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Home » Natalia Janson: Can We Resolve the Mind-Body Problem with Mathematics? at TEDxLoughboroughU (Transcript)

Natalia Janson: Can We Resolve the Mind-Body Problem with Mathematics? at TEDxLoughboroughU (Transcript)

Dr. Natalia Janson, senior lecturer in applied mathematics, discusses: Can We Resolve the Mind-Body Problem with Mathematics? at TEDxLoughboroughU Conference (Transcript)

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Can We Resolve the Mind-Body Problem with Mathematics by Natalia Janson at TEDxLoughboroughU

Dr. Natalia Janson – Senior Lecturer in Applied Mathematics

In the 1600s, a philosopher and mathematician, René Descartes, suggested that the mind was an immaterial entity, isolated from the body and — notably from the body and from the brain.

On the contrary, in the middle of the 20th century, a philosopher, Gilbert Ryle, proposed that the mind is simply the physical processes occurring in the brain, and there is no separate entity which needs to be called the mind. So, in fact, he proposed that the mind was material.

In between these two extreme standpoints, there was a theory of a 19th century philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, who admitted that the mind and the body were distinct entities, but the properties of the mind were largely determined by the properties of the body to which it belonged.

There has been a lot of philosophical dispute about whether the mind is totally unobservable, or perhaps observable. In the 20th century, it has been widely recognized that we need to start handling the mind with the methods of natural sciences. The ancient mind-body problem about the relationship between mental and physical processes has been reformulated with account of the achievements of modern science.

Nowadays, the scientific hypothesis is that the mind is the product of the brain, and it emerges from interactions between the brain components. So the mind-body problem now reads: What is the exact relationship between the brain and cognitive functions, between the brain and behavior? Several people hypothesized that the mind could be some field produced by the brain, possibly an electrical field.

A psychologist, Benjamin Libet, proposed that the mind is not a physical force field, not like an electrical or a gravitational one, and is rather some immaterial field which is not directly observable.

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