Secular Philosophy Mind Body Problem

QUESTION: Secular Philosophy – The Mind/Body Problem

ANSWER:

The epistemology and metaphysics of naturalism create a specific problem for Secular Humanist philosophy. This dilemma is traditionally referred to as the mind-body problem, which asks Does the mind exist solely within nature, just as the body does, or is the mind more than matter?

Secular Philosophy – The Mind is Simply a Manifestation of the Brain
Humanists believe that the mind (also referred to as consciousness, personality, or soul) is simply a manifestation of the brain. The mind is an extension of the natural world, explainable in purely physical terms. This stance arises from the Secular Humanist epistemological belief that knowledge comes from science and science supports the belief that life arose spontaneously and has evolved to its present state. Since matter is all that exists, the mind is a strictly physical phenomenon. The belief that the mind is no more than a conglomeration of matter is called monism. The opposing view, that the mind supersedes mere matter, is called dualism.

Secular Humanist philosophy thus concludes that the amazingly complex human mind is the result of evolutionary processes. According to Lamont, “Naturalistic Humanism . . . take[s] the view that the material universe came first and that mind emerged in the animal man only after some two billion years of biological evolution upon this material earth.”1

Notes:

Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Corliss Lamont, Voice in the Wilderness (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1975), 82.

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