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Mind and Body

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 06:29 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 37.9 
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Much of the intellectual history of psychology has

involved the attempt to come to grips with the problem

of mind and body and how they interact.

While the philosophical distinction between mind and

body can be traced back to the Greeks, it is due to

the influential work of René Descartes, (written

around the 1630’s) that we owe the first systematic

account of the mind/body relationship. When Descartes'

friend and frequent correspondent, Marin Mersenne,

wrote to him of Galileo's fate at the hands of the

Inquisition, Descartes immediately suppressed his own

treatise. As a result, the world's first extended

essay on physiological psychology was published only

well after its author's death. In this essay, he

proposed a mechanism for automatic reaction in

response to external events. According to his

proposal, external motions affect the peripheral ends

of the nerve fibrils, which in turn displace the

central ends. As the central ends are displaced, the

pattern of interfibrillar space is rearranged and the

flow of animal spirits is thereby directed into the

appropriate nerves.   This is the reason he has been

credited with the founding of the reflex theory.  

        Descarte was the first to talk about mind/body

interactions, and thus had a great influence in later

psychologists and thinkers.   He proposed that not only

body can influence mind, but that mind could also

affect body.

        Years later, the work of Nicolas Malebranche was

probably the most influential provider of

occasionalism.   Occasionalism deals with the

contradiction that if the nature of causality is such

that causes and effects must have a necessary

connection and be of a similar type, then mind/body



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