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Page history last edited by Brock Baker 12 years ago

Is the Mind and Body the same thing or separate?


George Berkeley (1685-1753)


George Berkeley, in seeking to find out what we could know with certainty, decided that our knowledge must be based on our perceptions because all aspects of the external (material and immaterial) world must be interpreted through our senses.  This led him to conclude that there was indeed no "real" knowable object behind one's perception, that what was "real" was the perception itself. This is characterised by Berkeley's slogan: "Esse est aut percipi aut percipere" or "To be is to be perceived or to perceive", meaning that something only exists, in the particular way that it is seen to exist, when it is being perceived (seen, felt, etc.) by an observing subject.   Berekeley’s idealism made our perceptions ‘true’ reality.  However, this left Berkeley with the problem of explaining how it is that each of us apparently has much the same sort of perceptions of an object… if it is only our individual perceptions that are real, why do most of us see, feel, hear, the same things? Does this mean that external objects don’t exist?  This would go against everything we experience.  He solved this problem by having God guarantee that objects exist because God is always perceiving things.  Berkeley’s view of knowledge is called idealism because it emphasizes the concept that objects exist primarily as ideas.



Thales of Mietus (624 BCE-546 BCE)


Thales lived in a Greek colony in Asia minor and he wanted to know what everything was made of?  Looking around, Thales observed that most objects in the world were composed more of less of water.  He concluded, therefore, that water was the basic substance from which all things were made.  Today most people wouldn’t accept Thales’ conclusion but when you look at the world you can see where Thales was getting this idea – water seems to be everywhere and it can “become” so many things (water, ice, steam) that it isn’t so far fetched that water could be the basic substance that everything is made of.  Thales sparked the beginnings of many monist theories of the universe that see the universe as connected.


René Descartes (1596-1650)


René Descartes viewed the mind and body as being two separate things.  He suggested that the body works like a machine, that it has the material properties that follow the laws of physics. The mind (or soul), on the other hand, he described as a nonmaterial entity that does not follow the laws of physics and is ultimately where one’s personal identity rests.  Descartes argued that only humans have minds, and that the mind interacts with the body at the pineal gland (a small part of the brain). This form of dualism suggests that the mind controls the body, but that the body can also influence the otherwise rational mind, such as when people act out of passion. 


Knowledge and Understanding

# of correct and relevant references to philosophers/theories

Maximum of five statements

(5 x 3 = 15 marks)


# of insightful critiques and/or assessments of relevant philosophical theories

Maximum of five critiques

(5 x 3 = 15 marks)


# of relevant applications of theories to personal point of view or contemporary issues

Maximum of five applications of ideas

(5 x 3 = 15 marks)


Contributions made are -Exceptionally Clear   5

-Clear                          4 -Approaching Clear    3

-Somewhat Clear        2

-Not clear                    1

Total    ____/15

Total    ____/15

Total    ____/15

Total    ____/5

Comments (2)

lindberg said

at 10:35 am on Sep 17, 2008

i think tht they are different but they interact with eachother and feed off eachother.

Logan said

at 6:16 pm on Sep 18, 2008

i completely agree with lindberg. i dont think one has completel control of the other and that they take what they need from each other

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