Do materialists have good evidence for the view that thinking takes place in the brain? How would dualists respond to that evidence? Who has the stronger arguments?
Dualists believe that the mind is made of a different substance than that of the body, and is therefore separate from the brain. However, as a materialist, I believe that the mind and the brain are in fact the same, and that all mental states (ie. decisions, memories, beliefs etc.) are actually formed through brain processes and functions. Famous biologist Richard Dawkins explained the differences between dualism and monism (in this context, monism in the materialist sense):
A dualist acknowledges a fundamental distinction between matter and mind. A monist, by contrast, believes that mind is a manifestation of matter—material in a brain or perhaps a computer— and cannot exist apart from matter. A dualist believes the mind is some kind of disembodied spirit that inhabits the body and therefore conceivably could leave the body and exist somewhere else. (Dawkins, “The God Delusion”, pg. 180)
This essay will cover both arguments from dualism and materialism, however, I will focus on many of the invalid arguments of dualism and the supporting evidence for materialism. I will first discuss why dualism is believed in, and then explain materialist responses to dualist arguments, and in the end, why materialism is the most sensible belief.
It isn’t surprising to see that dualism was such an appealing and at the time, sensible theory of mind for such a long time pre-Enlightenment era. For one, neuroscience, or the science of the nervous system, has only been recently possible, due to the advancement of medical technology. Also, it separates humanity from the rest of the world’s species. However, Darwin’s theory of evolution has largely shattered the perception of humanity as being divine or special. He noted that “there is no fundamental difference between man and the higher...