The Mind-Body Problem

We talk about minds in ways that differ from the ways we talk about almost anything else. The difference is profound, pervasive, and ultimately perplexing. Think about what we say regarding minds in contrast to what we say regarding ordinary physical objects:.

Minds have Objects have

Beliefs

Mass

Desires

Extension

Intentions

Location

Fears

Momentum

Hopes

Velocity

Fantasies

Color

Awareness

Density

Experiences

Hardness

Memories

Gravity

   

None of the properties attributable to minds are attributable to physical objects (bodies, in the most general sense), and none of the properties attributable to bodies are attributable to minds, except perhaps metaphorically. We might say, for example, that we're "feeling blue today", but we clearly do not mean that our mind is literally the color blue. Rather, we mean that we are morose. Conversely, we might say that a healthy houseplant is "happy", but we clearly only mean by that that it is thriving.

This state of affairs is deeply puzzling. Simply in virtue of the radically different properties of minds and bodies, minds are radically weird in contrast with run-of-the-mill, everyday ordinary objects.

What, then, is the relationship between mind and body?