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"If what happens in your experience is inside your mind in a way in which what happens in your brain is not, it looks as though your experiences and other mental states can't just be physical states of your brain. There has to be more to you than your body with its humming nervous system."

(What does it all mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy, Thomas Nagel, Chapter 4, p.30 )

Nagel made his argument about dualism. I am confused by what he said in the bold text above.

In my opinion, Nagel is saying that what happens in your experience is inside your mind in a different way than what happens in your brain is inside your mind.

Is my understanding correct or are there other explanations?

  • I made an edit to hopefully clarify the question. You are welcome to roll it back or continue editing. Welcome to this SE. – Frank Hubeny Jun 30 '18 at 14:36
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In my opinion, Nagel is saying that "what happens in your experience is inside your mind in a different way than what happens in your brain is inside your mind"

I think you meant to write that last word as "brain", right?

He's just saying that what happens in the mind (experience) is not the same as what happens in the brain (neural activity)....and from this concludes that mental states are not physical states of the brain.

To me, there is an implicit argument structure here:

  1. If what happens in the mind is not what happens in the brain, mental states are not physical states.
  2. What happens in the mind is not what happens in the brain.

Conclusion: Mental states are not physical states.

That strikes me as begging the question, since "what happens in" is equivalent to "states". I would prefer he just assert that mental states are not physical states, like asserting "green is not red".

  • what happens in your experience = A; what happens in your brain = B; If A is inside your mind in a way in which B is not; In the if clause, I only think that "B is not inside your mind", not "brain"; And I also think that: A (What happens in your experience) is in your mind in a certain way. B (What happens in your brain) is in your mind in a certain way. If the two ways are not the same, then it looks as though your experiences and other mental states can't just be physical states of your brain. – XVI Jun 30 '18 at 14:19
  • but... "is not" what? – XVI Jun 30 '18 at 16:25
  • Sorry, I can't follow that. If you read above a few paragraphs above this part in Nagel's essay, when he discusses the taste of chocolate it may make it clearer. – Chelonian Jul 1 '18 at 4:12
  • So, if I write it like this: if your experiences are inside your mind in a different way than the neural activities are inside your brain, it looks as though... is it what the author mean!? – XVI Jul 2 '18 at 5:03
  • @XVI I already answered this in my answer. – Chelonian Jul 2 '18 at 12:58

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