The Mind–Body Problem

Jonathan Westphal

The mind-body issue, the glistening prize of modern and current philosophy, has been a source of contention for philosophers from Descartes to Kripke. The brain is a bodily organ. We cannot see how the mind is corporeal if it is, and we cannot understand how the mind can interact with the body if we do not understand how the mind is physical. Additionally, the mind cannot communicate with the body if it is not corporeal. I suppose so.

The philosopher Jonathan Westphal discusses the mind-body issue in depth in this book, laying out the justification for the previous answers and his own suggestion. Clarifying the mind-body problem—a problem that has nothing to do with the self, consciousness, soul, or anything else but the mind and body—helps identify the issue and its remedies.

Westphal traces the development of the mind-body issue from Descartes onward. In addition to examining physicalist theories of mind, antimaterialist theories of mind, and scientific theories of consciousness, he describes mind-body dualism, which maintains that the mind and the body are two distinct and separate entities, nonphysical and physical.

Last but not least, Westphal looks at the largely disregarded neutral monist conceptions of mind and body held by Bertrand Russell, William James, and Ernst Mach, which make no attempt to separate mind from matter or to transform matter into thought. Neutral monism is proposed in Westphal’s own unique way. This version offers an explanation of mind-body connection, which makes it distinct from other neutral monist theories.