Testing the Mind and Body

states have been going around since the olden days of philosophy. The debates have reached a fundamental turning point when the problem started to be addressed in terms of the histories behind what can be considered as whole mental actions and physical actions. Due to the unending debates and almost repetitive discourses regarding mental states and physical states; the root cause of the debate was relegated to a higher form of dilemma and was coined a new name, mind- body problem.

While the debates go on and the problem still unsolved, more and more fields got involved in answering the problem at hand. Engineering experts particularly those that are in the field of mechanical structures gave a hint in an approach to answer the problem which is through the formulation of mechanical thinking. On the other hand, experts from the natural sciences are more than willing to provide aid in answering the problem by lending their expertise through effective experimentation.

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This merging of the natural sciences and philosophy will be the focused of this paper. It can be said that in this paper the allergic reactions experienced by individuals will be the justification in approaching the mind body problem. Experimenting on the neuron induced allergies will be used in this paper to show and justify the possibilities of mental states and physical states being independent or interdependent of each other.

This paper will use the findings of an experiment that isolates the actual allergens from the allergy by triggering the neurons responsible for the allergic reaction without the presence of the actual allergen. The experiment to be used in this paper is a chestnut allergy experiment. In the conclusion of this paper, the chestnut allergy experiment will be related to another experiment that can be deemed to more vital in addressing the problem presented.

Allergy in its simplest sense means the physical attribution of the body in reaction to the invasive and allergy triggering properties of different allergens; this definition will be assumed to be correct in using the chestnut latex experiment for this paper. The latex fruit syndrome is one of the widely spread food related allergies ever known to man (Wagner and Breiteneder 935). This allergy was coined as such because of the statistical relation that those who are allergic to natural latex rubber are also allergic to fruits and nuts such as the one focused by this paper- chestnut.

The statistical relation between the two allergies ranges from 30%-50% (Wagner and Breiteneder 935). Due to this high statistic chestnut- latex allergy one of the exclusive cases of allergy because chestnut allergens which are unrelated to latex fruit syndrome is still left unstudied (Sanchez-Monge, Blanco and Lopez-Torrejon n. pag. ). The chestnut latex experiment was conducted with the due guide of the disciplinary implications of an experiment by the natural sciences.

The subjects chosen for the experiment are those which are proven to have chestnut related allergies. In the experiment all of them are given chestnut derived allergen with and without latex (Sanchez-Monge, Blanco and Lopez-Torrejon n. pag. ). Surprisingly, the result of the experiment can be summarized such as all of the subjects manifested major allergies observable from chestnut reaction even if there the allergen used was differentiated in terms of its properties particular to latex (Sanchez-Monge, Blanco and Lopez-Torrejon n. pag. ).

In the natural sciences, this experiment would present itself to be a successful one because it was able to arrive at a definite and scientifically defendable answer to its research question. However, in terms of philosophy the results of this experiment will be attributed to the fact that the chestnut allergen has its own ontological value exclusive of its own. This philosophical assumption can be further analyzed to be the inevitable need to recognize that the chestnut allergen is a material in the allergic reaction which is exclusive from other components of the experiment.

What is the bearing of this finding in the problem posted in this paper? This experiment will prove a vital part of this paper simply through its presentation that even allergens have the ontological materiality which can be tested against the supposed mental state of the neurons of the human brain. Following this it can be said that this experiment will provide the context wherein this paper will soon present its argument and justifications.

An ordinary human being is attributed with both mental and physical states; even if this composition is still highly contested this attribution is still the best start off point. In the philosophical world, these two parts of being human are well recognized and studied; however the interpretations intrinsic to these attributions are not necessarily positive in the natures of each. There are those that argue that there exists substrate independence (substrate being the state) which means that the mental substrate supervenes the physical substrate of an individual (Brostom n.

pag. ). In this argumentation the mental state of an individual is said not only to be the dominant part but also an independent part of being human (Brostom n. pag. ). Brostom (2002) further argued that allowing the mental substrate and the physical substrate to be too connected to one another will only allow to an evolutionary failure of human kind in attaining a more computing and rationalizing race in the near future. In this sense, the mental state is and should be independent for both humanities survival and better understanding of the ontological bearing of each part.

Exaggeratedly, Piccini (2003) even argued that the time where the mental state is fully excluded from the physical state will be the time that mechanical thinking of humans which has good functional and computational skills will come into bloom (813). That time will render the unanswered problem of body and mind irrelevant and eternally answered. On the other hand strong refutations can be seen from other philosophy experts in the aspect of the mental and physical states’ independence from one another.

The physicality of everything included in what individuals perceive as the world can lead to a very problematic dead end in attempting to integrate mental state to a very physical sphere (Marcus 29). Marcus (2005) further argued that the mental and physical states should be given due attribution in terms of ontology without losing its meaning in terms of the history of action that both have; he expounded on this through the concepts of completeness and closure (29). Completeness means the full observable and traceable history of actions that were collated to form a “complete” physical action (Marcus 29).

Closure on the other hand simply means that nothing nonphysical such as the mental state can affect the results of something physical as generalized in the physical state (Marcus 29). Following these definitions it can be argued that the physical state need not be explained through the mental state which will render the whole mind body debate irrelevant (Marcus 30). Furthermore, it can be said that mental state as a possible causal entity in the unfolding of actions is only valuable up to the extent that it is a small part of its physical representation; this makes the mental state’s value dependent on the physical state (Marcus 30).

The arguments presented above represent the two main polarities in the debate over the independence versus interdependence of the mental states and physical states. Taking the allergy subject matter at hand and trying to include it in these given definitions will only give what can be said as half truths and half justifications. Answering the problem taken by this paper can only be answered by putting the whole process of allergic reaction in context with both physical and mental states.

Doing so makes it an imperative to discuss these two parts of an individual needing for more explanations which can only be provided through discoursing to conscious thought and conscious experience. Taking the physicality and mentality of the whole allergic reaction of the chestnut latex experiment how can it be a part of a general consciousness? More blatantly, should it be discussed through its mental and physical states? Taking the definitions given above, this paper stands that the whole allergic reaction induced by the chestnut latex experiment implies two possibilities.

First, the chestnut’s physical participation in the whole process is the vital ingredient in triggering a very physically manifested allergy. This implies that regardless of their mental stature during the test, the physical implications of the experiment will still take its course. Second, it is a possibility that the chestnut allergy is only possible in terms of biological possibility if coupled with the attributes of natural latex rubber. This implies that those who showed a similar allergic effect to those that are given with chestnut latex samples have only become allergic through their mental states.

Nonetheless, both hypotheses can be included in the discussions regarding consciousness. According to Carruthers (2010) there are two forms of consciousness, one that is based on thoughts and the other based on experience. Conscious thought is achieved through the congruence of what people think and their quasi- sensory manifestations (Carruthers 6). However, in conscious thought the individual will see everything external to him according to his or her likeness; regardless of the possibility that what he or she perceives is impossible in both phenomenological and physical sense.

It can be further assumed that the allergic reaction as explained in the second hypothesis of this paper might have been the result of the subjects’ conscious thinking. The subjects knew that they are allergic to chestnut; therefore the mere quasi sensory input of ingesting what appears to be a chestnut regardless of the fact that it is a latex free chestnut is enough to make them allergic. If this argumentation can be proven true through an allergic qualifying process then it can be said that the mental state and physical state can equally create independent realities for human beings.

Unfortunately, such an experiment is still unavailable which makes that argument open for future contestation in the field of natural science. On the other hand, the whole allergic reaction for those who are given an ordinary chestnut latex allergen the whole allergic reaction can be regarded as a conscious experience. The chestnut allergy experiment can be said to be a process of conscious experience because it created a likeness of allergic reaction to the subjects of the experiment.

The likeness as implied by conscious experience can be seen in its attribute that allows those who experience the action in both physical and mental states are valid to assume a certain sense of expectation for the outcome of the action in general (Carruthers 1-2). Following this definition and applying it to the first hypothesis it can be said that the allergic reaction of the subjects that were given ordinary chestnut- latex reacted accordingly to their perception of allergy which they comprehended from their own personal subjectivities. In this case the mental and physical states are interdependent.

Similar experiments have been conducted to test the body- mind problem. Experiments such the hand perception experiment where a fake hand was set to create an illusion that the experiment’s subject is actually seeing his hand (Achenbach). The fake hand was tested for sense such as tickling and even pinching that surprisingly showed to be felt by the experiment’s subject (Achenbach). The same is true for the continuing practice of the placebo effect, where the mind is set in a positive state through fake medication that yields real health improvements (Skeptic’s Dictionary n. pag. ).

The mental culturing that these experiment and practice were able to impose on its subjects shows the high potential of human’s mental state; this is the same with the possibility that the chestnut-latex differentiated experiment only yielded a uniform positive result due to the shared consciousness of the subjects that chestnut is an allergen to each and every one of them. Regardless of the fact that they may have been through different formation of consciousness (thought and experience), the allergic reaction shows what Brostrom (2002) argued- substrate independence is not yet achieved but should be achieved by humankind.

The theories are set but making it a reality is far from being realized. Bibliography Achenbach, Joel. “Neuroscience: You Feel That? ” National Geographic January 2005: The Science of Things section. Brostom, Nick. Are You Living in a Computer Simulation? July 2002. 20 July 2010 ;http://www. simulation-argument. com/simulation. html;. Carruthers, Peter. “Concious Experience versus Concious Thought. ” 2010. www. philosophy. umd. edu. 20 July 2010 ;http://www. philosophy. umd. edu/Faculty/pcarruthers/Conscious-experience-versus-conscious-thought.

pdf;. Marcus, Eric. “Mental Causation in a Physical World. ” Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition (2005): 27-50. Piccinini, Gualtiero. “Functionalism, computationalism, and mental states. ” Stud. Hist. Phil. Sci. 35 (2003): 811-833. Sanchez-Monge, R. , et al. Differential allergen sensitization patterns in chestnut allergy with or without associated latex-fruit syndrome. 18 September 2006. 20 July 2010 ;http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/16950291;.


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