Theory of Mind: Daniel Dennett vs. Thomas Nagel Essay

1986 Words Jan 15th, 2013 8 Pages
Theory of Mind: Thomas Nagel and Daniel Dennett The mind-body problem consists of two very different theories; Dualism and materialism. These are two theories that are on opposite sides of the spectrum and I will compare not only their ideas, but also the ways in which they coincide and oppose each other. From these two theories, I agree with materialism since I believe our consciousness and “life” consists of nothing more than the physical mind. Dualism is the assumption that mental phenomena are both non-physical and physical, consisting of a physical body and a non-physical mind. A famous dualist was Thomas Nagel, whom attributed the consciousness of the mind to physical and non-physical properties. Thomas Nagel believed that …show more content…
Nagel also brings up another common materialistic argument, which is the fact that the mind is composed of physical processes, but takes it a step further and states that here must be something that it is like for these processes to take place and only this cannot be further simplified or reduced. According to Nagel, any physical process that affects the mind also has a subjective character of experience and that is what shows the non-physical side of all organisms. Nagel, however, never fully discards the idea that materialism is wrong. Instead, he hypothesizes that although any presently available explanation for materialism is wrong; there is a probability that a correct materialistic theory could be created in the intellectual future. In What is it like to be a bat? Nagel writes
“For example, people are now told at an early age that all matter is really energy. But despite the fact that they know what "is" means, most of them never form a conception of what makes this claim true, because they lack the theoretical background.” (8).
In the quote above, you can deduce Nagel’s viewpoint that any scientific explanation, although correct, is commonly only understood for what it states and concludes instead of why it is as stated, similar to how a child knows

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