Monday, May 14, 2012

I have updated my web site to include a section on philosophical arguments that the mind is not produced by the brain.

There are very good philosophical reasons to believe the mind is not produced by the brain and therefore the mind is non-physical. Peter Williams discusses several reasons for this in his article: Why Naturalists Should Mind about Physicalism, and Vice Versa, (Quodlibet Journal: Volume 4 Number 2-3, Summer 2002.)

Williams explains that if the mind and the brain were the same, then all the properties of the mind would be properties of the brain. He then demonstrates that the mind cannot be identical to the brain by giving several examples of properties of the mind that are not properties of the brain.


Gary R. Habermas and J.P.Moreland argue against physicalism from the ‘qualia’ of imagined sensory images. Qualia is the subjective feel or texture of conscious experience:

"Picture a pink elephant in your mind. Now close your eyes and look at the image. In your mind, you will see a pink property. . . There will be no pink elephant outside you, but there will be a pink image of one in your mind. However, there will be no pink entity in your brain; no neurophysiologist could open your brain and see a pink entity while you are having the sense image. The sensory event has a property – pink – that no brain event has. Therefore, they cannot be identical." [19]
To put this another way, the subjective feel of mental experiences such as the feeling of pain, the hearing of sound or the taste of chocolate seems very different from anything that is purely physical: "If the world were only made of matter, these subjective aspects of consciousness would not exist. But they do exist! So there must be more to the world than matter." [20]

Williams gives several more examples. These include intentionality, the ability to reason, free will, and moral responsibility. See the linked article for an explanation of why these phenomena demonstrate that the mind cannot be made of matter.

Williams concludes:

At the very least, the mind has several immaterial properties ... It follows that no merely physical explanation of the mind is possible.
More information, including links to further reading, can be found on my web site.