Dualism and Evolution : Philosophy of Mind

by xenatisch

What is Dualism?

Fundamentally, dualism is a philosophical perspective in which it is believed that, in human being, mind and brain are two separate phenomena. Brain, is a physical being which is in the body and controls the organs, as well as playing a medium role to connect the body to the mind. This is while, there is another phenomenon known as the mind. It thinks, decides and analyses. The mind is not in the body, but may be controlled by it. Mind, in dualism, is known to be a metaphysical beings. This theory has a very deep root in the history. It is observed in theories suggest by Plato. However, it was mostly written and completed by Rene Descartes.

Opposite Side, Materialism

There is another side to the story which tends to disprove, basically, reject the theory of dualism: Materialism. In materialism it is mainly believed that brain and mind are indeed the same. In other words, mind is an effect caused by brain. It is believed that there is in fact no such a thing as metaphysics and that everything, with no exceptions whatsoever, has a physical causes. Whether or not it is provable by the current amount of human knowledge, it shall some day be proven. One of the main theorists of materialism was Karl Marx.

In another perspective, Materialism suggests that matter is the basic reality of the universe and thus everything is material or can be shown to have derived ultimately from matter whereas Dualism is the quality of being twofold, body and soul. Therefore, obviously Dualism and Materialism are opposed to each other.” [Hadjibagheri P. (2008). Dualism and Evolution. The University of Sheffield]

Logical Consideration: Philosophical Perspectives

Smith and Jones very well clarify the idea that it is worth to be directly quoted: “In case of physical objects, such as billiard balls, it is spatial location which distinguishes one ball from another qualitatively identical one: even if the two red balls on the table are as similar are they can be, there are still two of them, which are distinguished by being in two different places.” [Smith, P. & Jones, O.R. (1986). The Philosophy of Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press – p. 47]

The above-mentioned statement of of Smith et al. can, however, be challenged using an argument to suggest that the materialistic tendency has in fact influenced the conclusion considering the fact that dualism indicates that there is an unprovable metaphysical phenomenon involved. On the other hand, dualism can be challenged to be trying to prove right something unprovable.

This, on the other hand, can itself be challenged using the theory of Chinese Room of John Searle’s. In this very theory it is stated that: given there is a machine which is able to simulate some particular behaviour. The arises that despite its ability to simulate, does it necessarily understand and analyses what it does as well? The answer to the question was given through an experiment done by Searle. He imagined himself in a room, simulating a computer running a programme which is to simulate the behaviour of Chinese speakers. People outside provide him with Chinese characters and he, who has no idea about Chinese language whatsoever, is able to create meaningful replies, in Chinese only by following the instruction he has been given (the programme he is running).

Now this question arises: Was he actually able to understand what he was doing? Can he in fact be recognised as someone who understands Chinese the way the native speakers do?

He claimed later that a strong Artificial Intelligence, a properly programmed computer, can in fact be recognised as a mind, which means, computers that are given a neat programme (the instruction) can indeed be considered in a way that they understand.


From Charles Darwin’s perspective, the human being is an advanced evolved version of animal. Hence, there is no difference between the intelligent human being and the unintelligent mindless animal, except for the matter of time.  The mind of the human beings, just like their body, have been developed over time.

This argument is sometimes challenged by the question: Why didn’t the same thing happen to other kinds of animals? Which can be answered: The matter of time. The matter of nature. The readiness of other species. And perhaps many other physical reasons. And that it might just as well happen within the coming millennia.

References and Bibliography:

Smith, P. & Jones, O.R. (1986). The Philosophy of Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press – p. 47

Hadjibagheri P. (2008). Dualism and Evolution. The University of Sheffield

Searle, John (1980), Mind, Brains and Programmes, Behavioural and Brain Science 3 – pp. 417-457

Descartes, R. (1641). The Philosophical Writings of René Descartes Vol. 2, Collected and Edited by: J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff and D. Murdoch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1984)


This is a scientific work. Any retrieves, quotations, or otherwise written or spoken utilisations must be scientifically cited. Failure to do so may be considered as plagiarism and result in the influenced piece work to be dismissed or the degree to be withdrawn.