The problem of interaction of mind and body has always bothered people. The source of the problem is very simple. People want to know whether their body can exist without mind and vice versa. Many philosophers paid attention to this issue. Dozens of theories and hypotheses appeared in the past. However, we do not have the definite answer to this question. What is the actual nature of interaction of mind and body? Why is it important? In my opinion, this problem is still relevant inasmuch as scientists have not found any proves that demonstrate the existence of soul – the source of mind. Can soul exist without body? What is the nature of mind-body dualism?
The first philosopher who shared his idea about mind-body dualism was René Descartes. This French philosopher emphasized that every human has dualistic nature. There has always been a theory that human consists of two substances or natures. The first side is visible or physical. Everyone can see and feel his own body. The existence of this physical nature cannot be questioned. The second side is spiritual. It is our mind or soul. This invisible nature of our body is debatable whereas many people do not believe in the powers and phenomena they do not see or feel. The idea of mind-body dualism has become popular among religious people. The environment of scientists or irreligious people does not agree to the existence of any spiritual powers located in our bodies.
No wonder, Descartes asked “What am I?” because he did not understand what part of our nature was prior. Physical body cannot exist without mind. In fact, no one knows whether mind can exist without body. Descartes said “I am a thinking thing”. That means that mind is prior in human nature. Physical body cannot think alone. It requires ‘help’ or ‘background’ that is mind or soul. Physical body is the thing controlled by our mind. We think, express emotions and feel due to the interaction of mind and body. Mind can ‘feel’ happiness obtained due to the results of the physical work or existence of our body. Mind cannot be happy or satisfied alone. When we feel warmth or a pleasant touch of a beloved person, we feel it through the physical sensors. On the other hand, we would never feel joyful inventing something if we did not have mind. Consequently, physical body is a tool that helps our mind reveal and develop its potential.
The problem of mind-body dualism is popular in Christianity. Without doubt, there are different variants or branches of this religion. Every branch on its turn has its specific understanding of mind-body dualism. It we pay attention to the radical Eastern Orthodoxy or Catholicism (especially in the Middle Ages), we will see that mind or soul was dominant. Human body was treated like something evil and impure. Something that spoils our mind and leads our soul in the wrong direction. Many Churches believe that human soul is imprisoned in human body. The soul is waiting for the release in the life after death. In addition, these Churches explain the difficulties of human life on Earth. Our life will be better when we pass. The devoted supporters of this idea become monks and devote their life to God. They live in monasteries trying to be separated from the sinful everyday life and impure environment. They believe that their soul is more important than body and all physical pleasures.
However, if we focus on the humanistic understanding of Christianity, we will see that such philosophers as Saint Thomas Aquinas supported the integrity of mind-body dualism. He emphasized human dignity and said that a human being is the paramount creation of God. Thus, human body is no less important than her mind or soul. God inspires our soul and it controls our physical body. Therefore, our body cannot be impure or sinful inasmuch as it was created and inspired by God.
The problem of interaction of mind and body has bothered people for centuries. It is impossible to deny the importance of both parts of our nature whereas spiritual soul and physical body coexist together forming the dual nature of a human being. Many outstanding philosophers tried to define the primary form of human nature. Some of them appreciated human mind and soul humbling physical body. Others pointed at the harmonic coexistence of mind and body interpreted through the dualism.
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