Mind vs. brain

From the IAmAnAtheist.com comment form:

Given, two things are only identical if they share all the same properties.
Given, the mind and the brain do not share the property of self examination.
Therefore, the brain is not the mind.
If the brain is not the mind, then the mind is independent from the brain.
Therefore, the soul exists.

It’s inexcapable!

Given, two things are only identical if they share all the same properties.
Given, a glass and the water in the glass do not share the property of being a liquid.
Therefore, a glass is not the water it contains.
If the glass is not the water, then the water is a separate thing.
Therefore, if you take away the glass, the water will stay in the same shape it had when the glass was there.

I think you can see the problem with this argument. An argument analogous to yours could also be made to “prove” that a computer’s program does not require the computer to run, and I’m sure we agree that’s false.

That it can be shown that the mind and the brain are not identical does not show that they are independent. In fact, it doesn’t even show that they are separate, only distinguishable.

So where does your argument go wrong? I’d say it goes wrong in the second given, “the mind and the brain do not share the property of self examination.” If the mind is part of the brain, then this statement should be rewritten correctly as, “the mind and the brain share the property of being able to examine the mind.” It is still true that the brain is not the mind, but only because the mind is identical to part of the brain, not to the brain as a whole. If the mind is destroyed, some of the brain remains; if the brain is destroyed, it takes the mind with it.

No soul is necessary to make the distinction between mind and brain coherent.

Posted on May 27, 2010 at 6:48 am by ideclare · Permalink
In: Evidence

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments via RSS

  1. Written by Middlemet
    on May 27, 2010 at 7:55 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Here’s another argument based on the same unfortunately mistaken logic.

    Given, two things are only identical if they share all the same properties.

    Given, the body and the hand do not share the same property of being independently viable life forms.

    Therefore, the hand is not the body.

    If the body is not the hand, then the hand is separate from the body.

    Therefore, there must be some transcendent thing linking body and hand.

    It is excellent that the commenter is thinking about these sorts of questions, and is struggling for some sort of sense. When I was fourteen I was introduced to the 4 color map theorem, and spent an entire weekend trying to defeat it. Obviously, since it was mathematically impossible, I failed, but I learned more by failing than I would have by just accepting it, especially considering I couldn’t begin to follow the mathematics of the 4 color map theorem at the time (and still can’t to be honest).

  2. Written by a different phil
    on May 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    I dunno. The proposed argument to me kind of falls down between steps 4 (the mind is independent from the brain) and 5 (the soul exists). When did this soul thing enter the argument? Is he attempting to define “soul” as “a mind independent of the brain”? I’m missing the logic here.

Subscribe to comments via RSS

Leave a Reply