I've been thinking about dualism lately, but one thing that deals a pretty strong blow to this view in my mind is that it implies that the mind can exist apart from physical reality (an immaterial mind or soul, say, that floats out of the body at death).

But isn't a mind, in all of its activity and experience, fully connected to the physical world?

First, any sense perception (which is an integral part of the immediate conscious experience of a mind) is inseparable from some physical organ. Seeing requires an eye, it also requires light to reflect off of physical objects and so on. Thus, sight, sound, smell and all other senses appear incompatible with the experience of some immaterial mind.

Second, even abstract thoughts, intentions, beliefs and so on reduce to some physical structures and events. Thoughts that manifest as language are just examples of sounds and visual symbols that come from the physical world. In other words, take away the senses, and there isn't much consciousness to be had.

Is this kind of objection raised against dualism? Or am I missing something?

  • Only substance dualism allows mind to exist apart from matter, and almost nobody subscribes to it nowadays. The currently popular form is property dualism which does not allow mind to exist apart from matter, but does allow mental properties of matter that are irreducible to physical ones. But not even physicalists would say that "thoughts are just sounds and visual symbols", this quickly leads to nonsense. They would only say that thoughts have a material base and can be represented by sounds and visual symbols, not that they are them.
    – Conifold
    Jan 29, 2020 at 20:52
  • The question is tricky because of all the assumptions. Certainly seeing requires an eye but an eye is not enough for seeing. An eye does not see anything and so there is something more than the physical eye at work. Your statement that when we take away the senses there 'isn't much consciousness to be had' is a conjecture and not something you have verified. Those who do the experiments report a very different result. . .
    – user20253
    Jan 30, 2020 at 11:04
  • Dualism in the sense that there are 2 kinds of entity, the mind and the body(brain), that function separately and independently of each other are not support by any evidence. But information, which is neither matter, energy, force, or other conventional physical entities, can provide the basis for mental substance, and some recent theories (e.g., 1,2,3) assert that the mind is a kind of information entity.
    – user287279
    Feb 2, 2020 at 14:39
  • Because information is categorically different from conventional physical entities (mass, energy, forces, etc.), dualism in the sense that there are two basically different entities in this universe is support by this assertion. But these two kinds of entities must exist and function unitedly as one; this assertion doesn’t support dualism in the sense that there are two basically different entities that function separately or can exist separately from each other in this universe.
    – user287279
    Feb 2, 2020 at 14:40
  • @user287279 I know nowadays Tononi's integrated information theory framework under phenomenology is used a lot to try to define consciousness in the physicalism spirit. But current boolean logic of information can be reduced to its analogue open/close gate mechanical system, so in this sense what's information really different from other mechanical/physical quantities used to study consciousness before? Mar 9, 2021 at 16:43


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