From the beginning of the philosophy development as a definite science, philosophers were preoccupied with the major humans’ question: “Who we are? Why are we here?” Metaphysics is that particular branch of philosophy which deals with these issue solving. One of the major issues of metaphysics is correlation between human mind and human body. For instance, Descartes defines a human being as “a thinking substance” (Kim 36).
Thus, philosophers agree on the fact that our body is a physical substance, but our mind is intangible substance. At the moment it is, may be, the only fact accepted by everyone, since there are many approaches to defining the mind-body issue. Our body is regarded as a substance which is subordinate to our mind, though it is necessary to point out that our body has its own impulses which have nothing to do with our mind, on the contrary, our mind cannot exist separately from our body, though it cannot be perceived and distinguished as an organ of human body (Kim 40). This mind-body issue is also regarded in terms of monistic, dualistic and pluralistic approaches.
First of all, it is necessary to define the essence of these approaches and then to consider mind-body issue in terms of these approaches. The basic idea of monism is that everything in the world originates from one substance; some philosophers suggest that everything is based on air; others insist that water is the substance forming everything in the Universe (Kim 432). Philosophers who defend pluralistic approach argue that everything has its own origin; they insist that everything in the world is pluralistic (Kim 432). Dualism is based on the idealism, which is the “extreme opposite of these forms of materialism”, and which suggests that “the only things that exist are minds and their ideas” (Kim 432).
Thus monistic and pluralistic approaches to mind-body issue suggest that mental “acts, events and states” are caused by “brain and central nervous system” which is physical substance, i.e. our body (Kim 432). Dualistic approach to the issue is based on the statement that human body and human mind cannot be “reducible to or explicable in terms of the other” (Kim 432). Some philosophers consider the mind-body issue in terms of God intervention, and freedom and determinism. Thus, this approach suggests that people’s actions are determined by God’s will, thus, presenting dualistic approach (Kirkpatrick 49).
Such determinism deprives people of freedom of action and thought, though a lot of philosophers state that even in terms of divine determinism people have freedom of action, since God doesn’t determines people’s actions and thoughts, but rather foresees all the events in advance. Thus, according to this approach human is physical substance determined by divine will. It is necessary to add that deterministic approach isn’t confined to theology only. Some philosophers involve biology and physics, stating that humans are determined by the laws of physics, biology and common laws of our Universe (Kirkpatrick 65). It is necessary to point out that deterministic approach to solving mind-body issue contributes to the dualistic approach of defining who people are. Thus, it is possible to conclude that though the issue of mind-body correlation is still unsolved, philosophers are likely to consider it in terms of dualistic approach, which suggests that human body and mind are indivisible substances which constitute human.
A Companion to Metaphysics. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Kirkpatrick, F.
G. Together bound: God, history, and the religious community. New York: Oxford University Press US, 1994