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Monistic solutions to the Mind-Body problem

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In contrast to dualism, monism does not accept any fundamental divisions. The fundamentally disseparate nature of reality has been central to forms of eastern philosophies for over two millennia.

In Indian and Chinese philosophy, monism is integral to how experience is understood. Today, the most common forms of monism in Western philosophy are physicalist.[18] Physicalistic monism asserts that the only existing substance is physical, in some sense of that term to be clarified by our best science.[52] However, a variety of formulations (see below) are possible. Another form of monism, idealism, states that the only existing substance is mental. Although pure idealism, such as that of George Berkeley, is uncommon in contemporary Western philosophy, a more sophisticated variant called panpsychism, according to which mental experience and properties may be at the foundation of physical experience and properties, has been espoused by some philosophers such as Alfred North Whitehead and David Ray Griffin.[46]

Phenomenalism is the theory that representations (or sense data) of external objects are all that exist. Such a view was briefly adopted by Bertrand Russell and many of the logical positivists during the early 20th century.[53] A third possibility is to accept the existence of a basic substance that is neither physical nor mental. The mental and physical would then both be properties of this neutral substance. Such a position was adopted by Baruch Spinoza[9] and was popularized by Ernst Mach[54] in the 19th century. This neutral monism, as it is called, resembles property dualism.

Idealism. The 20th-century British scientist Sir James Jeans wrote that "the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.


" Beginning with Immanuel Kant, German idealists such as G. W. F. Hegel, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, and Arthur Schopenhauer dominated 19th-century philosophy. This tradition, which emphasized the mental or "ideal" character of all phenomena, birthed idealistic and subjectivist schools ranging from British idealism to phenomenalism to existentialism. Definitions[edit] Any philosophy that assigns crucial importance to the ideal or spiritual realm in its account of human existence may be termed "idealist". Subjective idealists like George Berkeley are anti-realists in terms of a mind-independent world, whereas transcendental idealists like Immanuel Kant are strong skeptics of such a world, affirming epistemological and not metaphysical idealism. Classical idealism[edit] Platonism and neoplatonism[edit] therefore;

Neutral monism. Neutral monism, in philosophy, is the metaphysical view that the mental and the physical are two ways of organizing or describing the same elements, which are themselves "neutral", that is, neither physical nor mental.

Neutral monism

This view denies that the mental and the physical are two fundamentally different things. Eliminative materialism. Eliminativists argue that modern belief in the existence of mental phenomena is analogous to the ancient belief in obsolete theories such as the geocentric model of the universe.

Eliminative materialism

Eliminativism stands in opposition to reductive materialism, which argues that a mental state is well defined, and that further research will result in a more detailed, but not different understanding.[3] An intermediate position is revisionary materialism, which will often argue that the mental state in question will prove to be somewhat reducible to physical phenomena - with some changes to the common sense concept. Eliminativism about a class of entities is the view that that class of entities does not exist.[4] For example, all forms of materialism are eliminativist about the soul; modern chemists are eliminativist about phlogiston; and modern physicists are eliminativist about the existence of luminiferous aether. Overview[edit] Philosophers who argue against eliminativism may take several approaches. Emergentism. In philosophy, emergentism is the belief in emergence, particularly as it involves consciousness and the philosophy of mind, and as it contrasts (or not) with reductionism.


A property of a system is said to be emergent if it is in some sense more than the "sum" of the properties of the system's parts. An emergent property is said to be dependent on some more basic properties (and their relationships and configuration), so that it can have no separate existence. However, a degree of independence is also asserted of emergent properties, so that they are not identical to, or reducible to, or predictable from, or deducible from their bases. The different ways in which the independence requirement can be satisfied lead to variant types of emergence. Forms of emergentism[edit] Other varieties see mind or consciousness as specifically and anomalously requiring emergentist explanation, and therefore constitute a family of positions in the philosophy of mind.

Relationship to vitalism[edit] C. C. Functionalism (philosophy of mind) Functionalism is a theory of the mind in contemporary philosophy, developed largely as an alternative to both the identity theory of mind and behaviourism.

Functionalism (philosophy of mind)

Behaviorism. Behaviorism (or behaviourism), is the science of behavior that focuses on observable behavior only,[1] it is also an approach to psychology that combines elements of philosophy, methodology, and theory.[2] It emerged in the early twentieth century as a reaction to "mentalistic" psychology, which often had difficulty making predictions that could be tested using rigorous experimental methods.


The primary tenet of behaviorism, as expressed in the writings of John B. Watson, B. F. Type physicalism. The relevant question: what will research discover?

Type physicalism

Non-reductive physicalism.