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Identity Theory Mental States

Decent Essays
Identity theory attempts to explain the relationship between the body and the mind. It states that some mental states are the same as some brain states. This implies that one could group mental events – like pain, pleasure or hunger – into events that correlate with physical states of the brain; for example, when one feels pain, C-fibers are firing(mason, “identity theory”). However, there are many objections to this theory. Overall, these objections are compelling and show that identity theory is weak and untrue. In this essay, I will argue that mental states are not identical to brain states by breaking down the Identity Theory. Identity theory groups everything the mind experiences into parcels that correlate with physical activities in…show more content…
They hypothesized that somewhere in the universe a being could exist that had completely different physical manifestations of mental states. This goes even further than the computer example since it presumes there is a physical being involved with the mental states. The idea is that beings somewhere in the universe could have evolved with a mind/brain system that is so different that it would completely disrupt Identity Theory. For example, their mental state of pain could appear completely different in the mental state it produces. Again, the idea being put forth is purely hypothetical and not able to be tested or proved. However, the mere fact that it is logical and consistent and conceivable, even in a hypothetical form, is a problem for Identity Theory, or even the broader Token Theory. There should be some way in which mental states correlate to physical states for either of these theories to hold up. But with aliens, or perhaps computers, both these ideas can be credibly discarded. It is totally conceivable that beings could exist or be created (in the case of the computer) that have no physical brain manifestation to correlate with a mental…show more content…
Even if it is presumed that this disjunctive physical kinds theory is totally correct and accurate, it can not save Identity Theory. Again, it is possible to look at the hypothetical example of an alien life form that evolved totally differently than any life form on Earth evolved. There is no reason for c-fiber firing to equal pain in this being. C-fiber firing could equate to any mental state in this hypothetical being, from pain to love to hunger to sleepiness. There is no reason to assume that it must equate to pain. Plus, once again, reducing and refining Identity Theory in this manner makes it less informative and useful. As with restricting Identity Theory to specific times, disjunctive physical kinds restrict Identity Theory to the point of absurdity and make it a theory that is in no way practical for explaining real experiences in the world. Neither the cow nor the human nor the hypothetical alien can be adequately described using a theory that is so
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