Saturday, 24 May 2014

Does the Mind-as-Computer-Programme Idea Support Mind-Body Dualism?

“Yes, I am a confirmed "dualist" at this point in my journey, i.e., I understand my mind to be separate from my body/brain, analogous to the way an application program and its data are separate from the computing infrastructure they depend on.” - Chasw
Does believing your mind to be separate from your body/brain automatically mean you're a dualist? That would depend on what the word 'separate' means. The mind simply being (fundamentally) different from the body wouldn't commit anyone to dualism.

Dualism is a commitment to the idea that mind and brain are fundamentally different ontological categories or 'substances'. That creates the problem of mind-body interaction. If mind and brain (body) were fundamentally different, then how could brain-to-mind and mind-to-brain interactions be explained?

Dualists are also committed to minds being separable from brains, not just being separate and different. I don't think the 

mind = programme/data 

and the 

brain = hardware

comparison works here because, after all, even programmes and data are physical. Programmes and data depend on physical syntactic devices which encode data/info and which themselves rely on physical processes to implement that data (as well as to send that data, electronically, around the hardware/infrastructure). The programme-hardware/mind-brain analogy works only to show us that the same programme can be instantiated in different kinds of hardware: from brains to computers to coke machines. In itself, it's not an argument for dualism; which is specifically about the mind being of a different substance/category than the brain. When it comes to computer programmes and their different hardware juxtapositions, there are no such deep ontological problems as there are for mind-brain/body dualism.

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