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What is most thought-provoking in these thought-provoking times, is that we are still not thinking.
— Martin Heidegger<ref>Martin Heidegger, What is Called Thinking?</ref>
The Thinker by Rodin (1840–1917), in the garden of the Musée Rodin

The phenomenology movement in philosophy saw a radical change in the way in which we understand thought. Martin Heidegger's phenomenological analyses of the existential structure of man in Being and Time cast new light on the issue of thinking, unsettling traditional cognitive or rational interpretations of man which affect the way we understand thought. The notion of the fundamental role of non-cognitive understanding in rendering possible thematic consciousness informed the discussion surrounding Artificial Intelligence during the 1970s and 1980s.<ref>Dreyfus, Hubert. Dreyfus, Stuart. Mind Over Machine. Macmillan, 1987</ref>

Phenomenology, however, is not the only approach to thinking in modern Western philosophy. Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the nature of the mind, mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness and their relationship to the physical body, particularly the brain. The mind-body problem, i.e. the relationship of the mind to the body, is commonly seen as the central issue in philosophy of mind, although there are other issues concerning the nature of the mind that do not involve its relation to the physical body.<ref name="Kim1"/>

The mind-body problem

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The mind-body problem concerns the explanation of the relationship that exists between minds, or mental processes, and bodily states or processes.<ref name="Kim1">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> The main aim of philosophers working in this area is to determine the nature of the mind and mental states/processes, and how—or even if—minds are affected by and can affect the body.

Human perceptual experiences depend on stimuli which arrive at one's various sensory organs from the external world and these stimuli cause changes in one's mental state, ultimately causing one to feel a sensation, which may be pleasant or unpleasant. Someone's desire for a slice of pizza, for example, will tend to cause that person to move his or her body in a specific manner and in a specific direction to obtain what he or she wants. The question, then, is how it can be possible for conscious experiences to arise out of a lump of gray matter endowed with nothing but electrochemical properties. A related problem is to explain how someone's propositional attitudes (e.g. beliefs and desires) can cause that individual's neurons to fire and his muscles to contract in exactly the correct manner. These comprise some of the puzzles that have confronted epistemologists and philosophers of mind from at least the time of René Descartes.<ref>Companion to Metaphysics, By Jaegwon Kim, Gary S. Rosenkrantz, Ernest Sosa, Contributor Jaegwon Kim, Edition: 2, Published by Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, ISBN 978-1-4051-5298-3</ref>

Functionalism vs. embodiment

The above reflects a classical, functional description of how we work as cognitive, thinking systems. However the apparently irresolvable mind-body problem is said to be overcome, and bypassed, by the embodied cognition approach, with its roots in the work of Heidegger, Piaget, Vygotsky, Merleau-Ponty and the pragmatist John Dewey.<ref>Varela, Francisco J., Thompson, Evan T., and Rosch, Eleanor. (1992). The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-72021-3</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref>

This approach states that the classical approach of separating the mind and analysing its processes is misguided: instead, we should see that the mind, actions of an embodied agent, and the environment it perceives and envisions, are all parts of a whole which determine each other. Therefore, functional analysis of the mind alone will always leave us with the mind-body problem which cannot be solved.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>


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