Friday, October 18, 2013

[PHI 1000] Is the mind like a smile?

Here is an argument against mind-body dualism that came up during class discussion today:
  1. If the mind is a state (or states) of being, then the mind cannot exist without the body.
  2. The mind is a state (or states) of being.
  3. Therefore, the mind cannot exist without the body.
A state of being has derivative being, i.e., it cannot exist without being a state of something. For example, a smile is a state a face can be in. A smile cannot be without a face.

If the mind is like a smile in that respect, i.e., insofar as it has derivative being, then it must depend on something else for its existence. What could that something else be other than the body?


  1. The mind is like a smile in a couple of ways. For those who do not believe in mind body dualism, a smile is only a manipulation of the muscles in the face. They could argue that like a smile, the mind is just a manipulation of the brain. A smile occurs when certain muscles in the face are stimulated and it can be argued that the mind is simply certain parts of the brain being stimulated. A smile is also a “thing” that cannot exist without a face. Those who believe that the mind cannot be separated from the body would say that a mind is like a smile in that neither can exist without a body.

  2. A smile can exists without a body. You can draw a smile on a piece of paper or feel a smile. You can smile with your heart, even though a heart is an organ it is not a body.

  3. There is nothing else. If the above argument is deductive and sound, then there is no entity other than a body where a mind can exist.

  4. I am not entirely sure how to respond to this question. If the mind does in fact depend on something other than itself for its existence, then the only thing we have observed this being the case is with bodies. From what we can tell minds do not exist outside of bodies, so I do not know what “something else could be” other than the body. However, in the mind-body dualism argument, I am not sure if the first two premises are even necessarily true. I think this because there is the possibility that minds might exist outside of the body if we refer to minds synonymously with souls.

    Alyssa Rusch


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