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Home > Archives > Volume 1, No 2 (2003) > Article

DOI: 10.14704/nq.2003.1.2.14

Historical Aspect: Relationship Between Mind/Behaviour and Body/Organism

Sirel Karakas, Belma Bekci

Abstract

This article discusses the developments that led to associating the two aspects of the living creatures: the mind that is observed in species that especially come from higher phylogenetic levels and the body. Three influences that have been especially important in this undertaking was emphasized. These influences were the natural philosophical approach, the ancestor of positive sciences; “passive†mental mechanisms forwarded by the English Empiricist and Associationist philosophers and the “active†mental mechanisms forwarded by the German philosophers; physiological mechanisms approach developed by philosopher/scientists that came from various biological sciences that also included medicine. The association of the mind and the body have been realised in several stages. The first stage was accomplished by Descartes and it was a result of his philosophical ideas and observations: The body can be studied by the natural philopsophical approach. The second stage was accomplished, based on the sometimes philosophical but mostly physiological findings of physiologists and medical doctors: Bodily processes can be explained by the mechanical laws and theories that apply to all natural phenomena. Scientific studies that used the newly developed research techniques showed that mental processes were products of the nervous system and especially of the brain. The scientific and experimental studies led to the slogan of the third stage: If the mind is the product of the body and the brain, since body and brain are natural phenomena, then mind can be explained through the laws and theories that apply to natural phenomena. In this context, the concept “physics of physiology†was applied by Helmholtz and Fechner to mental processes. The climax of this line of development was reached by Wundt when he established the scientific branch of physiological psychology. In contemporary science it is acknowledged that a joint study of the mind (cognitive proceses and behavior) and the body (nervous system and especially the brain) can be undertaken in two ways: using the the multidisiciplinary approach or operating within the interdisciplinary scientific branches.

Keywords

Mind-body problem, mental mechanisms, physiological mechanisms, Wundt, interdisciplinary branches, multidisciplinary approach

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