Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fun Philosophy 2: The Ghost in the Machine

The 20th century philosopher Gilbert Ryle said that philosophers who think of the mind as a kind of thing that causes the body to move are making a bad mistake. He called the view of the mind "the ghost in the machine". He would walk around Oxford and would say, "I see all these buildings but where is Oxford?" The mistake is in thinking that Oxford is in the sum of its buildings, but it is more than that. Ryle claimed that those who think of the mind as a thing in addition to the body are missing the point that the body and its activities comprises the mind. In other words your mind is NOT just your brain. You mind is made up of all the actions, activities and decisions of your WHOLE BODY. When we say someone has an inquisitive mind we cannot pull that brain out of the person and find the inquisitive part and analyze it. What we are saying is that all the actions of that person, the questions and movements indicate that they are inquisitive. That person behaves in inquisitive ways. The mind is not a ghost in the machine it is a way of describing the machines activities.

Modern science has been throwing wrenches at this ghost in the machine. Brain scans have revealed actual places where inquisitiveness comes from, where joy shows up as firing neurons, and where anger can be removed or lessened. So the question for us fun philosophers is which is it?

Are you the sum of your parts? You raise your hand due to a decision made by firing neurons in your head which tell you that if you do you will be rewarded because other neurons tell you that it happened in the past that way.

Of are you something separate from your actions, activities, and decisions. As if you could stand outside your body and direct it and have everything still work?

Is your mind in your brain or is it something outside your physical body? If you were cloned would your clone have a "mind"?

If you take the Bible seriously you would have the answer to this question. God created us special and put his "image" within us. God's Image is the Ghost in the Machine. We stand outside our physical bodies as spiritual beings. Every time you make a decision it and use your "mind" you are proving that God exists. And those who don't know that are simply out of their mind.

No comments: