Elme és tudatosság a fizikai világban: egy párbeszéd margójára
Subject: Acta Pintériana
The nature of the soul – or the mind as one prefers to call it nowadays – has long been one of the central issues of the trilateral discussions between sciences, philosophy and theology. During the discussions, the attention has often been focused on the metaphysical essence of the mind, because it is commonly agreed that not all kinds of philosophical and scientific positions can be reconciled with religious expectations. Accordingly, questions such as on what grounds and to what extent might the sciences lay claim on telling the final truth about the human nature, can legitimately be posed. If one is ready to accept the authority of the natural sciences, further issues ought to be clarified about human freedom, moral agency and the soul’s independence of matter. Are these possibilities admitted into a physical universe governed by strict laws of nature and causality? These issues are often channeled into one central question about the nature of the mind: is the mind a material being or an immaterial, transcendent substance? In this paper I address and, to a certain extent, criticize this central question by drawing inspiration from the contemporary philosophy of mind. In a first step, I provide an overview of the most important principles of the field, the most well-known tenets and the difficulties inherent in each one. I maintain that in light of these scientific and philosophical insights the central question cannot be answered. The negativity of this result is just apparent. It sheds some light on the causes of the failure and thereby it opens the way towards another – by my lights more promising – approach. To make a step in this direction, in the second part of my essay I review a relatively new development in the contemporary philosophy of mind, the approach called ’situated cognition’. Finally, equipped with the results of these considerations, I make a proposal as to how the central question should be modified and reformulated.