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Approaches to Understanding the Mind

Plato’s view of the mind as utterly different from nature was adopted in the dualist tradition of Descartes. Descartes accepts dualism but not Plato’s unrealism of nature as shadows of ideal forms. Seeking science foundations, Descartes ponders how knowledge of nature is possible. Yet, as he moves from the otherworldly to the worldly, he seeks a new mathematical understanding of nature. So, in this sense, he is more of a Platonist than he is an Aristotelian. The new sciences were to be based on mathematical forms, and they still are. Mathematical forms have driven science ever since the Renaissance.

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

A. Hedman, Consciousness from a Broad Perspective, Studies in Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality 6, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-52975-2_6

Descartes is part of an emerging naturalist generation, which sees nature in terms of mathematical physics. Yet Descartes could never find a home for the mind there. Today, Cartesian dualism has been replaced with the materialist view that minds and everything else in the universe are physical entities. Yet philosophers continue to struggle with finding a home for the mind in physical reality.

In sum, three central questions have been asked with respect to the mind-body problem throughout the history of philosophy, from the time of Plato to modern materialism.

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