Metaphysics

Metaphysics

Contents
1. Introduction
2. Arguments against substance dualism
3. Consciousness
4. Free will
5. Self
6. Conclusion
7. Bibliography

Introduction
The origin of the argument concerning the dualism as a theory of the relationship of mind and body dates back to past epochs. For instance, this argument may be easily traced in the views of Descartes who “tried but failed to bridge the mind/body divide” (Fromm 2004:319). However, it does not mean at all that this argument is out of date. In stark contrast, this problem is still relevant and widely discussed by many specialists, epistemologists, philosophers. In this respect, it is worthy of note the work of John R. Searle “Mind: A Brief Introduction” where he argues against dualism and rejects the idea of the problem provoked by the dualistic relationship of mind and human body. Nonetheless, it is necessary to critically evaluate his ideas and views in order to clearly define whether his theory is trustworthy or probably it is just another attempt ‘to bridge mind/body divide’ that eventually failed.
Arguments against substance dualism
First of all, it should be pointed out that the ideas developed by John R. Seale in his book are based on the current trends in the modern philosophy and epistemology. Unlike philosophers of the past, who attempted to reveal the mystery of relationship of mind and body and who often arrived to the idea of dualism or, on the contrary, to the rejection of it, sitting in their armchairs, modern epoch provided possibilities and opportunities for researches of the problem of functioning of human body and mind in laboratories where scientists can study the most complicated processes that occur in human body and mind. Nowadays, researchers of the problem of dualism can use a combination of psychology, physiology and biology to better understand the functioning of human body and human mind and what is more they really have more opportunities to scientifically find out how human thought is actually produced and whether it is possible or, to put it more precisely, should human mind and human body be juxtaposed in the relationship of dualism.
Not surprisingly that in such a situation, new theories and new arguments appear that underline that there is no dualism at all and human mind and body functions as a solid and united entity. For instance, John R. Searle in his work “Mind: A Brief Introduction” he argues about dualism and focuses on the three main problems of the philosophy of mind: consciousness, free will, and self. It should be said that Searle is a realist, philosopher and analytic. He recognizes that there is not only a real material world but that human beings are capable to say true things about it. In his work, he attempts to discredit the ‘myth’ about dualism by means of providing spook free explanations of the major quandaries mentioned above, i.e. consciousness, free will, and self, which leave no room for dualism in the relationship of mind and body. Basically, he stands on the ground that though is rather a product of the functioning of human mind as an in all senses inseparable part of body.
Consciousness
Traditionally, consciousness was perceived as something absolutely unique and different from the rest of human body and its organs. However, Searle is very skeptical about this belief and, unlike many philosophers of the past, he believes that consciousness is not totally different, but, instead, is produced from the same materials as everything else. To put it more precisely he argues that consciousness is built up by physical micro particles of various types though he recognizes its unique character. According to him dualism posits immaterial spirits such as souls, selves and thoughts with a preposterous ability to initiate bodily actions (movement of an arm for instance) and survive physical death but Searle, being a materialist, argues that it is possible to reduce the mind to a computer executing built-in programs, eliminating consciousness altogether though he obviously agrees that this statement is a bit too radical.
Nevertheless, Searle states that “all forms of consciousness are caused by the behavior of neurons and are realized in the brain system, which is itself composed of neurons” (2004:210) but, at the same time, he cannot help from emphasizing certain uniqueness of mind saying that “conscious state, with their subjective, first-person ontology, are real phenomena in the real world” (2004:211). In such a way, he agrees that consciousness is rather subjective but at this point it is possible to argue that this view is quite controversial and dualistic in nature because he suggests that human mind and consciousness are subjective products of objectively existing world.
Further he attempts to explain this paradox stating that conscious states “have absolutely no life of their own, independent from neurobiology” but it is just a return to the view of human mind and consciousness as a sort of computer with built-in programs. Eventually, he concludes his reflection on consciousness by the idea that “there are no two different metaphysical realms in your skull, one ‘physical’ and one ‘mental’. Rather there are just processes going on in your brain and some of them are conscious experience” (2004:228).
However, Searle’s criticism of dualism and his ‘biological naturalism’, as he calls his solution, are quite arguable. In this respect, it should be said that Searle claims that consciousness is a subjective, first-person, qualitative second order of neuronal activity, produced by but different from its generative materials. He emphasizes that absolutely everything else in the world is third person but consciousness sis unique because it cannot be observed by anybody else but an individual himself. At the same time, he does not really precise what the ‘first person’ consists of in the third person world. As a result, his strive to objectivity and materialism are overshadowed by his ‘first person’ subjectivity that naturally engenders dualism he so eagerly denies.
Free will
Speaking about free will, Searle also tends to materialize it and eliminate any possibility to mystify it and to present as an argument in favor of dualism. To put it more precisely, he states that “all of our psychological states without exception at any given instant are entirely determined by the state of the brain at that instant” (2004:276) and, taking into consideration his views on brain mentioned above, it is possible to conclude that human psychological states is also viewed from a purely materialistic point of view that leaves no room for dualism of the relationship of mind and body.
On the other hand, he introduces a term ‘psychological freedom’. As a result, while admitting the ways in which rage, hunger, etc. influence our psychological states, he finds them “not in every case causally sufficient to determine the subsequent action” (2004:289). And again his arguments are not very persuasive and what is more they are again contradictive as it was in the case of consciousness. In fact, such a position is so vague and ‘metaphysical’ as to appear pointless since further he admits that “the neurobiology is at any instant sufficient to fix the total state of psychology at that instant” (2004:291). Moreover, he eventually states that “We really do not know how free will exists in the brain, if it exists at all… and how it can possibly work” (2004:302).
In such a way, Searle does not really examine the concept of free will but instead he suggests nonsensical and self-contradicting arguments concerning whether this concept exists or not. Thus, at this point he has practically nothing to contradict to the supporters of the idea of dualism because of the lack of persuasive argument concerning the concept of free will.

Self
Finally, Searle’s reflections concerning self in his criticism of dualism between mind and body, which existence he criticize so much, are not less persuasive and are characterized by internal contradictions. It should be said that the self for him turns out to be “much the same as our every day banal conception, a sense that there is a continuing ‘I’ behind our consciousness” (Russell 2005:174).
In fact, speaking about the self, he concludes that “there is a formal or logical requirement that we postulate a self as something in addition to our experiences in order that we can make sense of the character of our experience” (2004:362). In such a way, it turns out to be that postulating is one thing and existing is another. Consequently, this is just another profound self-contradiction which does not really discredit the concept of dualism.
Conclusion
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that in his work “Mind: A Brief Introduction”, John R. Searle does not refute dualism but rather suggest materialistic argument concerning the close correlation between human mind and body on the basis of material, physical and biological factors. However, the significant contradictions in conceptual views, or even total ignoring of some key concepts, namely free will, make his arguments quite weak and not persuading. This is why it should be said that in order to make the argument refuting dualism it more substantial and trustworthy, it is necessary to emphasize strong materialistic points of Searle’s arguments and support them with criticism of dualistic views on mind and body.