On mind-body dualism

I had the Ben Folds Five song Philosophy playing in my ears before I started writing this post. I googled the lyrics and remember how when I was a teenager and used to love listening to the ‘Five. I’ve been enjoying remembering things I used to enjoy before the ‘fog’ and discovering that I still enjoy them now. In fact, I have done, discovered and enjoyed many things in my life. I do, discover and enjoy many things in my life. Now, not before the recovery. (Let that be the best advert there is for recovery again, dear reader)

Anyway, this post is about philosophy. I fell in love with it formally when I took my first lessons in it in high school, age 16. Of course before that I loved thinking totally deep thoughts about everything. Exploring ideas, challenging conventions. Y’know, the usual philosopher’s jam. It was my favourite subject in high school and I got a really high A for my leaving exam in Philosophy – I was extra proud. I wanted to study Theoretical Philosophy at uni, had my illness brain not decided that would be such frivolous nonsense not allowed, so I didn’t even apply. I went to Scotland to study something else and then at some point realized that I probably shouldn’t have denied myself of the thing I wanted to do so I finally enrolled in and completed my MA Hons degree in Philosophy. I am currently applying to continue my Masters in Practical Philosophy at Helsinki University and I hope to get in so I can write my Masters thesis finally. Guess what in – well of course the philosophy of Psychiatry.  

You know how philosophy is the first of all sciences but the sciences have made philosophy kinda redundant (well, I don’t think so, but maybe a considerable part of the world does). Philosophy invented mind-body dualism and its effect, I think, has been profound to many sciences and in general, to the way we perceive humans to work. My personal view of humans is that there is one entity that is not very well understood, comprising of consciousness and the somatic dimension we call the body. The ‘mind’ and the ‘body’ are just different parts within the entity, working seamlessly together. You should not attempt to separate them.

I sure separated them. To me, when I first became interested in Philosophy in high school, the dualist view posed many problems. I also thought that there was a distinct preference for it. Within this preference, a further preference to raise the ‘mind’ on a pedestal, and to treat the body as a secondary burden, kinda dirty, kinda weak. Considering so many philosophers (of today particularly) do not subscribe to religions it was remarkable how similar their thoughts were to the Christian discourses of the bodily sin and the sinful body. I don’t even need to go there with Catherine of Siena and all those other holy anorexics. Abstinence bringing y’all closer to god…

There were many interpretations I could’ve made. One, the way of life I might well subscribe to when I am further along in my recovery. A life that is so full of mentally enrichening activities that food becomes simply fuel, something one must have to sustain one, but something I don’t have a particular interest in, because life has more important things in it, like Thinking About Things. But when I was young, the body and food instead became something that I did think about, in a value-laden manner. The value of my body and food being both about minus 3 million. Denial, denial, denial. That was the way of the disordered mind.

But you cannae do philosophy with an unclear mind. I’ve forgotten most of the things that I’ve learned about it (now referring to names, dates, theories but not perhaps philsophical methods), yet I know for a fact that I studied hard and learned many things. They just are under the fog. A further reason for recovery: I would like to have knowledge of many things! Philosophical musings of various dead and living folk is one. Writing my Masters thesis (if I can get my right to write it reinstalled) will probs be hella easier if I can concentrate, remember and in general have some cognition.

Still, I do find, that the body is not very well remembered in philosophy even today. Feminist thinkers and some others bring corporeality into it a bit more than the talking heads of yesteryear. I suppose the higher up you are on the ladder (a philosopher king, perhaps), the less you have to think about the body because it is not your tool (physical labour, actual labour – holla at me ladies giving birth to new philosophers!) in the way the mind is. A lot of philosophers of the olden days have been male, and a lot of them have been in positions where their labour was intellectual, not physical. No wonder they have written a certain type of philosophy.

Anyway, what I wanted to say was, I guess, that thinking deep thoughts and alalyzing the world will become ever so much easier with a well-oiled brain and I look forward to a future of very deep thoughts because I do believe philosophy can and does add value to my world and yours.


This dude kens the score, Maurice Merleau-Ponty

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