Colin McGinn's Mysterious Flame, published in 1999, explores the relationships between the mind and brain. McGinn believes that the study of consciousness is driven by a secular view of the universe that has been advanced by breakthroughs in brain studies over the past few decades. For McGinn, these studies may offer valuable insights into the operations of brain matter, but they do not answer the question of how this brain matter becomes conscious awareness. McGinn criticizes past theories of consciousness before asserting his own theory of the mind-body connection. This paper will summarize McGinn's Mysterious Flame, discuss the theory of "naturalized mysterianism" he proposes in the book, and offer a critical examination of problems raised by this "mysterious" theory.
Before offering his own theory of consciousness, McGinn examines the materialist's contention that the mind and brain are actually the same thing. McGinn sees many problems with the materialist's theory, particularly the leap from studying neurons and other physical brain functions, to what McGinn calls the flame of consciousness. That is, the materialist's theory does not explain how non-physical thoughts arise from a collection of cells. For him, studying brain function provides a great deal of important data about how specific functions operate within the brain, but offers nothing about the experience of sensations, thought or passion. In other words, materialists have a one-sided view of consciousness that does not adequately account for the equally important, non-physical aspects of consciousness.
The dualism theory, which does distinguish the non-physical mind from the physical body, is equally problematic, according to McGinn. He believes this view divides the mind and brain too sharply, resulting in other logical and experiential problems, such as the apparent mind-body connection that exists when we feel pain. Everyday experience shows that there is some connection between mind and body. For example, we physically experience a sensation, such as heat, and our minds translate that information into a variety of thoughts that are useful. These thoughts remind us of past experiences with heat, as well as other conscious associations with heat that may not be useful at a particular time. Or, when we bang our heads against a wall, there is usually an immediate conscious response that suggests a connection between our thoughts and our physical cranium. Based on these common experiences, it appears that the mind and the body are very connected, and not entirely independent, as dualism suggests.
Related Research Paper Topic Suggestions
Absolute Idealism - Absolute Idealism research papers discuss the philosophy that all life is part of a whole and, for the world to be known and understood by humanity, there must be thought and being.
Carl Jung Theories - Carl Jung Theories research papers discuss his theories on the 'balancing act' of the human psyche.
Consciousness Science - Consciousness and science research papers help to define consciousness and its various components in the realm of science or neural science.
Developmental Neurobiology - Research papers on developmental neurobiology delve into the study of the development of the brain and its various processes.
Dreaming From A Biological Perspective - Dreaming from a Biological Perspective Research Papers delve into different studies on dreaming from a biological perspective look at the fuction of dreams and how they serve a biological function.
Edward Titchener - Edward Titchener Research Papers discuss how Titchener's theories were based on the concept that the human mind and all of its actions could be charted in the same fashion as the chart of elements used in chemistry.
False Memory Syndrome - False Memory Syndrome Research Papers delve into research on repressed memories of childhood abuse.
Five Senses - Five Senses term papers look into the physiological characteristics that allow an individual to receive outside stimuli.
Growth Mindset - Research papers on Growth Mindset discuss the the thoughts that determines plans for a person's future.
Human Mind - Human Mind Research Papers explore an example of an order placed for a psychology class, that gives you a list of pre approved topics to do your research paper on.
Iconic Memory - Iconic Memory research papers examine a type of visual sensory memory that the brain uses to remember images.
Intellectual Growth - Intellectual Growth research papers look at the four stages of intellectual growth in the human lifespan.
Nature of Human Perception - Nature of Human Perception Research Papers explore the different debates about the impact and influence of perception.
Psychology of Women - The field of psychology is designed to study the inner workings of the human brain and the impact this has on both interpersonal and intrapersonal behavior.
What Are Schemata - What are Scehmata Research Papers delve into what exactly schemata is, and goes into detail about different types of schema.