Idealism, Narrative & the Mind-Brain Relation

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Idealism, Narrative and the Mind-Brain Relation

W. J. Mander

Quote:...The suggestion that idealism is untroubled by the mysteries that result from embodiment is
sensible enough, and in one respect it makes a clearly sound point. If we are worried how mental
states stand to that which is not any sort of mental state, then the idealist claim that there just is no
realm of the extra-mental removes at one stroke all of our concerns.

The matter is rather more complex than this, however. What ceases to be a problem under
one description may remain so under another, and with a little more thought it is easy to see that
idealists still have to face up to the curious relationship between the mind and the brain. For, of
course, the idealist is as aware as anyone else of both the remarkable difference between mind and
brain and the equally remarkable correlations which link them. Hence the very same phenomena
which a physicalist or a dualist needs to relate together, so too is the idealist called upon to connect.
Reassigning the physical into the same ontological category as the mental may change the nature of
that task but it does not make it go away.

Many contemporary thinkers would argue that the wholly undeniable correlations which
obtain between mental life and brain states, in so far as they seem to show that the former depend
on the latter, rule out any idealist understanding of their relationship and may be regarded as finally
refuting this long-standing position. But in this paper I shall argue that idealists need not regard
themselves as defeated in this fashion. Quite the reverse, in fact. I shall urge that, rather than
folding before such puzzling facts, it is idealism that offers the greatest hope for making sense of
them, while physicalism finds itself caught without prospects in an unyielding impasse...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell

(This post was last modified: 2023-06-17, 09:25 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 2 times in total.)
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