Along with five billion other souls on this planet we believe in Transmogrification magicand Transubstantiation life in spirit.
Bring fact-checked results to the top of your browser search. Modern science and the demotion of mind A much more powerful ground of opposition to the ethos of idealismas well as to many of its principal themes, was the fact that it was simply too much at odds with the rising tide of scientific progress in the late 19th century.
Furthermore, naturalism dominated the thought of the 20th century and showed little interest in the traditional themes of philosophical anthropology and even less in the mind-centred conception of human nature with which philosophical anthropology was identified.
The most powerful and influential opposition to these ideas came from scientific developments that appeared to show conclusively that the exceptional status accorded to human nature had been invalidated. Three such movements of thought had an especially significant effect on the way human nature was coming to be conceived: What is important here is the fact that, however different these three movements may have been, they shared a strong inclination toward demoting the conscious mind from its privileged position within human self-understanding and assigning a determining role to some very different part of human nature.
Evolution In the first instance, the theory of evolution claimed that the various species of living things have a natural rather than a divine origin.
These species evolve through random changes that occur in their members, though these changes themselves are not per se inheritable, as the French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck had supposed.
In this way, a process of natural selection takes place from which the human species itself emerged. As a theory of human nature, evolution had a humbling effect on the pride associated with claims that humans held a privileged status among living things. Yet it did not have any direct bearing on the traditionally held distinction between the body and the mind.
It was, in fact, hard to imagine what further influence evolution could have in the human case without appealing to changes that in one way or another would be of a mental character.
All of this made evolutionary thought more of a threat to religious beliefs than to philosophical accounts of human nature, because the latter did not require any special assumptions regarding how the human species was formed. Yet when evolutionary theory joined forces with geneticsas it did in the 20th century, it became possible to point to something within the human body— genes —that accounted for the heritable traits and mutations that occur in humans and in all living things.
The inference has been widely drawn that human genetic makeup determines matters that had previously been thought to be controlled by rational thought and moral decision making. Now that the human genome has been completely sequenced, it may appear as though all the categories that have defined moral personality have been displaced by DNAthe organic chemical in which genetic information is encoded.
This at least has been the popular understanding of these developments, and apparently that of some professional students of these matters as well. These developments have been carried further by the emergence of evolutionary psychologywhich equates the mind with the brain and views it as progressively modified by the same kinds of evolutionary changes that occur in all living things.
Psychoanalysis Psychoanalytic theory has had a similarly displacing effect on human self-understanding. Although Freud originally conceived psychological processes in terms of energy exchanges within a physiological system, his mature theory was couched in a language of mind and consciousness that he modified for his own purposes.
Freud, SigmundSigmund Freud, But it would be a mistake to deny on a priori grounds the reality of the facts to which Freud was calling attention. The issue is rather one of finding an appropriate way of conceptualizing the kinds of facts that have been described in this way—a way that does not entail these incongruities.
Neither Freud nor his followers appear to have been interested in conceptual issues of this kind. As a result, a rather crude picture established itself of the conscious mind operating under the control of an external agency. Artificial intelligence Originating in the work of the British mathematician and logician Alan Turingartificial intelligence involves the effort to produce machines in most cases, computers that are capable of executing tasks formerly thought to require human intelligence and thus mind.
The distinction between computer hardware the actual physical makeup of these machines and software the sets of instructions or programs by which computers perform these tasks has become the effective replacement for the old philosophical distinction between body and mind.
Of the three scientific movements reviewed here, AI represents the most ambitious challenge to traditional conceptions of the soul-mind, because it is the one most explicitly associated with a materialist account of human beings.
Thus far, however, the accomplishments of AI have been meagre. It has produced a chess-playing machine that has defeated the reigning world champion, but in areas such as language translation, where context is far more nuanced than it is in chess, the results have been uneven. It is evident that the highest aspiration of supporters of AI is the production of an artificial human being.JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources.
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