This may not be a philosophical question but it is in regards to philosophy. I am currently facing the difficult task of having to fill in my university applications. I live in Ireland but wish to study in England. I want to study drama in the combined honors scheme with classical studies or philosophy. If drama does not work out, I wish to do journalism. Would philosophy be useful for journalism and how is one to know if philosophy is something that they may enjoy?
If you live in Ireland, then you will know about the Sunday World journalist Martin O'Hagan, who was brutally murdered on Friday evening, 28th September, in front of his own home, as he returned from the local bar with his wife Marie. I have written about the terrible incident in my Glass House notebook page for 30th September and also in Pathways News Issue 16.
You may not know that Martin O'Hagan studied philosophy: in fact, for three years he had been working towards the Philosophical Society Associate Award under my supervision (although we did not, in fact, correspond very much over that time). Martin O'Hagan did contribute a superb essay to the Pathways web site, Philosophical Considerations on Discourse/ Praxis. The essay recounts the turbulent stages that led him eventually to the discovery of the philosophy of the Stoics. "I went in search of meaning and discovered a potential for morality and inner peace."
I think it is a good question to ask, why a journalist should be interested in philosophy, or what use is philosophy to the journalist. Martin O'Hagan's life provides an admirable example.
You say that you intend to do journalism "if drama does not work out". I appreciate your honesty, and your pragmatism. I am sure that many journalists see themselves as merely plying a trade, which requires certain skills, such as a talent for words. In his essay on the Pathways web site, Martin O'Hagan candidly admits that for him getting a job on a tabloid newspaper meant in the first place a regular source of income. Yet he also had or discovered along the way something else, a sense of mission and purpose. That mission, to tell the truth about the troubles in Northern Ireland, led him into a personal war with the Protestant paramilitaries. The pen and typewriter were his weapons.
Where philosophy and the best journalism intersect is in the idea of the pursuit of truth. I say the best journalism, because so much journalism seems to be little more than entertainment. You pick up a newspaper or magazine in your coffee break. Writing does not need to be true in order to be entertaining. The sad truth is that it is possible to be a successful journalist and yet care little for the truth, or its pursuit.
So I would go a lot further than say that philosophy might be useful for journalism.
The Ethics of War: Can war be just?
This is the question I am currently trying to tackle. At the moment I have tried to approach it from three different angles. I have viewed the realist argument, the pacifist's argument and also looked over much of the contemporary work I have found written on just war theory. I would be grateful for any ideas on how you would tackle this question!
On the eve of World War II, the playwright Berthold Brecht made the statement that war is like love; it always finds a way.
Quincy Wright, in his Study of War, defines war as: a legal condition, which equally permits two or more hostile groups to carry on a conflict by armed force. The key to this definition is the word 'legal'. Used in this context, it is implied that war is acceptable and will receive societal approval.
With regard to the general idea of war, most poets and theologians view the concept as a calamity, while many politicians and statesmen accept it as a necessary evil. If one were in the military, one would tend to see it as his trade. Over time, war has been seen as a legitimate instrument of national policy. In most cases, domestic law has had little impact on controlling war. The Roman historian Livy felt that to those to whom war is necessary it becomes just. Others, like the seventeenth century philosopher Hugo Grotius, compiled a very impressive list of ancient acts of violence committed against enemies without regard to their civilian status during acts of war. In Grotius' opinion, these acts were deemed as just if the war they were supporting was for a just cause.
Konrad Lorenz said that it was the unreasonable and unreasoning human nature that caused nations to compete. According to Lorenz, despite the similarities in overall ideologies, even minor differences in political or religious beliefs between countries will result in bloodshed. Lorenz supported the theory of innate aggressive human nature. Many anthropologists would disagree with these beliefs, and instead argue that human aggression is separated from war. Karl Deutsch has stated that war is considered an acceptable and necessary means to an end, or at least a normal acceptable part of humanity. War has developed into an institution and has served many of man's needs. War has provided security, excitement, fellowship in a general cause, and developed unity. If war is indeed seen in this way, then as long as it serves human needs (even if those needs are viewed as counter productive) it will continue.
Can I get detailed information on philosophical alchemy?
From our modern scientific point of view, "alchemy addresses concerns of practical metallurgy" (Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy). From a less condescending attitude alchemy has it's very foundations just like modern science. Alchemistic research is based on theories of (ancient) natural philosophy (consider, that Geniuses like Paracelsus and Newton were "natural philosophers" or "alchemists"; of course there were also charlatans). Some of the main ideas/theories are:
1. Alchemy is based on the early Greek theory, that all of the different substances are only different outward appearance of one and the same primary matter. Therefore it must be possible to:
- Create (in terms of "with new properties")
2. The idea that all matter on Earth was made from a mixture of four basic 'elements' air, earth, fire and water, dates back to Empedocles out of which Aristotle formulated the theory of elements and their mixtures. Alchemists believed that if they could discover the proportions in which those elements were mixed, they would be able to change them, and by that, they would alter the nature of matter.
3. Another main concept of alchemy is that of analogy. The most famous formulation in the time of the alchemists is the one awarded to Hermes Trismegistos: "It is true, certain, and without falsehood, that whatever is below is like that which is above; and that which is above is like that which is below: to accomplish the one wonderful work" (philosophical alchemy knows altogether seven hermetical principles).
4. Another very important source is Book VII of Plato's Republic, for the analogy of the divided line plays a central role in philosophical alchemy. The four ways of knowing our world (image thinking, believing, understanding, and knowing) and their uses, can all be found in the divided line model. This analogy works to help us, as Plato says, understand dialectic, the heart of philosophy, by learning the perfect model of the Good. The analogy prepares to understand the principles of philosophical alchemy.
5. Jung's interpretation of alchemy shows close parallels to Platonic thought, and remarkably close similarities to the divided line analogy. He explains how throughout most of the Christian era in Europe, Platonic philosophy survived hidden within the strange, arcane tradition of philosophical alchemy, a tradition filled with hidden meanings and elaborately coded messages, for example the Philosopher's Stone was said to produce "immortality", meaning spiritual perfection. You will find a very thorough treatise on philosophical alchemy in C.G. Jung's Mysterium Coniunctionis (Trade Paperback, 1977). Jung's last work of book length, centers on the problems of philosophical alchemy, and in particular the synthesis of opposites.
Also very interesting: The Forge and the Crucible: Origins and Structures of Alchemy by Mircea Eliade, Paperback, 1979) There's also an online collection of texts on philosophical alchemy at: http://www.levity.com/alchemy/texts.html.
I am in a Philosophy class right now, and we have to write a paper on a topic our teacher has provided us. My question is "What is the existentialist meaning of authenticity? and what moral value, if any, does it have?" The first thing I did was look up what existentialism is. Basically it is a movement that concentrates on personal choice and freedom. I have done much research on it, but I would like another person's point of view.
There isn't a general 'existentialist' meaning of 'authenticity' and if you have found it written somewhere that there is, your suspicion should be aroused. There are different views of philosophers about the meaning of 'authenticity'. This word became jargon among philosophers who are associated (usually by others) with existentialism. Heidegger has his view of authenticity and Sartre has his. These are two of the most well known. Heidegger's view is based on the ontological difference between Being (Sein) in its verbal sonority and beings (Seiendes) or things that are. Essential for human Being (Dasein), according to Heidegger, is Being-toward-death (Sein sum Tode). In terms of this absolute each of us derive what is our 'ownmost' (eigenst). While quite technical-sounding in his early work, Heidegger's idea of all this became increasingly fluid, fluent and poetic. The usual criticism of Heidegger is to ask where ethics fits into all this. Heidegger's thinking seems to render ethics superfluous. The rejoinder is that Heidegger is not thinking about ethics, nor is he thinking about system, he is thinking about Being, and if you are thinking about that, this is how it goes.
Sartre's view highlights what Heidegger would regard as an inauthentically human. Sartre starts with the fact of human freedom, as you say, the freedom of the ego essentially, and he say, "Man makes himself. He isn't ready made to begin with. By choosing his ethics, he makes himself, and the force of circumstances is such that he cannot abstain from choosing one..." (Existentialism is a Humanism). So for Sartre, ethics is there to begin with. His philosophy, and idea of authenticity is always already ethical. However, it is also political and the problem with Sartre, in his life as in his work is that the ethical gets submerged in the political and the political becomes the horizon of the ethical. His ethics ends (like Mathieu) foundering upon his politics.
Matthew Del Nevo
I am currently trying to work out what on earth existence is. Not in a Descartes kinda way, but more 'is existence a predicate' or in other words why is 'John is bald' any different to 'John exists'? Surely existence is necessary for John to be bald. If I follow this through, can things which to not exist have properties? Is it just a problem of defining existence (if this can be done) because things that are not and have never been physical can have attached qualities (e.g. imaginary friends, unicorns, aliens).
I agree with your sense of bafflement. I do not see any difference between saying that John is bald, and saying that John is (something or other). To be, is to be something or other, to have some property, to be an object thought about, or talked about, or believed in, or imagined. Why do philosophers insist on saying that existence itself cannot be a property?
There are historical reasons, to do with Kant's objections to the ontological argument for the existence of God. Then there is the groundbreaking work in mathematical logic around the turn of the nineteenth century by Gottlob Frege, who defined a second-order existence 'quantifier' as a property, not of objects, but of concepts. But this is all a red herring, so far we are concerned.
Let me define a property 'Q' in the following way:
If any object x has a property F, then it has Q.
What is it to be Q? We can think of Q as the property of being something or other. Every object, by definition, has Q. You and I have Q. imaginary friends, unicorns and aliens have Q. You'd think that this is hardly news, to told that some thing has property Q, and you would be right. For the message has already been gotten across when we used whatever referring expression we used to talk about the thing in question.
The definition I have just given of 'Q' is a definition which does perfectly well for 'exists'. Philosophers of language can argue about whether in ordinary language when we say that something exists, what we 'mean' is the existence property, or the Fregean second-order quantifier. I would argue that there is no fact of the matter here.
However, if we agree to talk about existence as a property of objects, we have to guard against a fallacy. For we are tempted to reason as follows. "Things can go into or come out of existence. We can think that a thing exists, and then it turns out that it doesn't exist, or think that a thing doesn't exist, and then it turns out that it does exist. When we use 'exist' in this context, we must mean something different from the mere property of 'being' something-or-other, which anything can have whether it really exists, or not. It follows that there must be another property, real existence which some 'existing' things possess and others do not."
This is nonsense.
If I say, "King Charles I" no longer exists, the object of my reference is not some shadowy entity, the idea of King Charles in this or that person's mind, but the actual King Charles who was King of England. One and the same object cannot at one time be solid and real and at another time insubstantial and unreal. There are ideas in people's minds, and there are physical things in the world, just as there are fictional characters, mythical creatures, numbers and anything else one cares to name. It is no less absurd to suppose that a 'real' King Charles could become an 'unreal' idea or memory or concept of King Charles, than it is to suppose that the 'real' King Charles could become a fictional character, or a mythical creature, or a number.
What is knowledge?
Justified true belief is a standard and reasonably widely (but not universally) accepted definition for knowledge there are some problems with it. Before I go into that, though, I need to clear up what is meant by saying that knowledge is a particular type of belief one which is both justified and true. Remember, it is a definition of 'knowledge', not of 'truth'.
Belief: For me to be said to know something, I need to believe it. If I don't believe that snow is white, I can't be said to know that snow is white.
True: It is not enough for something to be knowledge just because it is believed. It also has to be true, independent of any belief I have. It has to actually be a fact, in the world. So if I believe that Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, and (see next condition) I have very solid grounds for believing it (lots of books say so etc), but it turns out that Bacon wrote it instead, then I never knew that Shakespeare wrote Hamlet. I just, mistakenly, thought that I knew it.
Justified: However, even if I believe something that is also true, if my justification for that belief is not adequate (and we can question what counts as adequate justification), then I can't be said to know it. Say I claim to know that you were eating a ham sandwich as you asked your question, and say that it turns out that you were, in fact, eating a ham sandwich as you sent it. But if I am asked 'how did you know?' and I say 'because I am eating a ham sandwich as I write the reply', then we would say that this was not a justification for believing you were eating one as you wrote, and that my "knowledge" was no more than a lucky guess, or a coincidence. Knowledge can't turn out to be true just by accident there must be a good reason for holding it.
One thing to emphasise (on this account) is the distinction between knowledge and truth. Knowledge is something that depends on people and their beliefs, whereas truth seems to be something that does not depend on people at all, just on what really is. This is often referred to as the distinction between epistemology (what is known) and ontology (what is). Things can be true without us being able to say they are true, and we can say they are true without them being true. This takes care of the case where there is disagreement about truth: if people disagree about what is true, then there is a matter of fact (independent of belief or justification) about what is true and only the person whose belief (with justification) aligns with truth has knowledge the other has a justified but false belief (unless both are wrong!).
Example: 'I believe Father Christmas exists' is a statement of belief, not of knowledge. On the "justified true belief" account, it is also knowledge if and only if (a) it can be justified and (b) it is (independently) also true.
Some people (me included) think that there are problems with the definition of knowledge as justified true belief. One reason (the one I share) is the problem about what is true. We don't seem to have any way of checking whether something is true, apart from the methods of forming justified beliefs. So, if we can never independently determine what actually is true (as distinguished from what we think is true), then we can never be sure we know anything (the problem of scepticism). Yet we do claim to know lots of things surely we do in fact know lots of things. So knowledge might better be thought of as properly justified belief, and we can therefore know things that might, in theory, turn out to have been wrong (a fallibilist view of knowledge). Of course, some people don't like this last statement they would say that if it turns out to have been wrong, we didn't know it at all.
Of course, there is disagreement about types of justification and how good each is all knowledge does seem to depend on lots of other things we know, ways we go about finding things out, our beliefs about how the world works, what counts as justification and so on. So, many people think that knowledge has to do with fitting in with all these other things not just in ourselves, but in the community we move in these are coherence and consensus models of knowledge, and it is a version of this that I would defend. But that is not to say that this is an easy account of knowledge to defend in fact, I am still working away at it.
The branch of philosophy dealing with this question is called epistemology. There are many theories of knowledge, among them the coherence theory and the pragmatic theory. I'll try to explain one of the "classical approaches" here, the justification theory of knowledge.
Knowledge must primarily be based on reason and evidence, rather than feeling or intuition.
Knowledge further requires:
1. Belief: I can only know that London is the capital of the UK if I (at least) believe that it is.
2. Truth: I also could believe something false: "Paris is the capital of the UK".
So, knowledge needs true belief based on evidence. Still this is not necessarily knowledge. An example: in ancient Greece a few people were heliocentrists. They believed, that the earth revolves around the sun (which turned out to be a true belief), they had reasons for their belief, but not enough evidence to know that the earth went around the sun: at that time it seemed more evident, that the sun revolved around the earth.
It was thought that justification, when added to true belief, yields a necessary and sufficient condition for knowledge. Its sufficiency, however, was refuted by Edmund Gettier. He showed that having a justified true belief still might be insufficient for knowledge.
An example: Suppose that Helen, one of my sisters, tells me that she is pregnant, on the grounds that her pregnancy test at the clinic was positive. So I believe that one of my sisters is pregnant for a good reason: my belief is justified. Further suppose that my belief is true, but not because Helen is pregnant. There was a mix up at the clinic and not she is pregnant, but my other sister, Christine. My belief was true and justified, but there was no knowledge.
Then, what more than justified true belief is required for knowledge? One answer is this. A belief counts as knowledge only if it was acquired by a reliable method. A method for acquiring beliefs is reliable just if it leads one to acquire beliefs which are true and does not lead one to acquire beliefs which are false. Trusting hospital pregnancy tests is an example of what may seem, in most contexts, a reliable method for acquiring beliefs. But in the above example, the context of the mix-up at the hospital meant that it was not a reliable method. And this is why my true justified belief that one of my sisters is pregnant does not count as knowledge. For a belief counts as knowledge only if it was acquired by a method that was, in the context, reliable.
What, then, is knowledge? One answer is this: knowledge is true justified belief that was acquired by a method that was, in the context, reliable. A subject's belief counts as knowledge when they have good reason to have that belief, the belief is true, and it was acquired by a method that was, in the context, reliable. That's a lot of conditions, isn't it?
That's why some people are dissatisfied with (these variations of) the justification theory of knowledge, they say "If that's what knowledge is, then we have very little of it, if any!"
According to another approach to the question of knowledge, the causal theory of knowledge, we can know something without personally having a proof or even justification of it. We have knowledge that something is the case whenever our belief is caused in the right way: A subject's belief counts as knowledge if and only if it is caused by that which makes it true. I know that it is raining if and only if my belief that it is raining is caused by that which makes it true its raining.
How far can we know what is true? Because as I see it there is no half truth, we either know our world or we are living a lie.
There is no such thing as half-truth, but there is such a thing as knowing, or saying something which is less than the whole truth. Courts of law are familiar with the concept of the whole truth: hence the oath which requires the witness to state, "The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." You can say things which are true, but by your omissions, or by your choice of emphasis, lead your listeners to conclude things which are not true. You have not said anything false, yet the effect is just the same as if you had.
From the point of view of logic, a statement is either true or it isn't. To take the logician Tarski's famous example, "Snow is white" is true if and only if snow is white. If I tell you that snow is white, or if I tell you that "Snow is white" is true, I have conveyed exactly the same information. Generations of students, meanwhile, have wondered how on earth one can make such a sweeping statement as, "Snow is white" when everyone who has ever seen snow knows that it can be a multitude of shades! There is no precisely defined point where something ceases to be white and becomes cream, or grey, or indeed where snow ceases to be snow and becomes sleet, or slush.
Is it then not true to say that snow is white, but only truer to say that snow is white than to say it isn't? What colour is snow, if not white? The thing to say here is that our language, with all its vagueness, does precisely the job that it is designed to do. We could not convey to one another what our senses told us, if we were only permitted to use concepts with precise definitions. On the whole, our senses are reliable witnesses, even though they fail to deliver scientific precision.
This case can be generalised. What I have said applies not only to knowledge gained by sense perception, where we make judgements that such and such is 'large' or 'small', or 'white' or 'cream', or a 'heap' or a 'pile', but also to knowledge which expresses a theory about the things we perceive, a theory which perhaps works only as a first or second approximation. Human or 'folk' psychology, which talks of beliefs, desires, intentions is held by some philosophers of mind to be only approximately true, and by others to be false, though useful. But the same thing applies here as in the case of vagueness. Take away folk psychology, and whatever 'scientific' account can be given of processes going in the brain will never be an adequate substitute.
There is much more knowledge about the world to be had than the knowledge we possess, or even seek. The world is a world of illusion only for those who mistakenly believe that all they know is all there is to be known.
Psychology claims to have a direct link to the emotional in terms of mental ailments such as eating disorders, exhaustion states etc. People often live in a state of denial about their true feelings and a trained therapist is able to read and identify the patient's true feelings and, in theory, with time help or even cure the person of their problem. Do you think that philosophy too may have its own direct route to the emotional, that here too a person may be in complete denial of that which a philosopher may be able to shed some light upon? What I suppose I am asking is, do you think philosophy has emotional significance, a world within the human being to answer unto itself with direct connotations to our lives and sicknesses?
A psycho-therapist is normally quite dynamic and tries to change behavioural traits in a patient (or so I believe), but the philosophically influenced existentialist therapist won't try to bring about specific behavioural changes, as would be necessary in the case of someone with an eating disorder. You might look at my answer to Carlos (Answers 13) to see the dangers of applying existential philosophy to specific psychological problems, but this is only one example and involves the application of a particular existential theory, namely Heidegger's, to a particular psychological problem.
But philosophy does have a root to the emotional life in a quite general way and can also be used in therapy and its aim is not to heal a type of sickness, but to make a man more human. Martin Buber asks "Shall a man who is called upon to help another in a specific manner merely give the help for which is summoned?" a particular problem with modern Western medicine! Buber has heavily influenced existential therapy with his account of our relationship with others which he calls the "I-Thou" relationship. His claim is that man does not grow by relation to himself, but within the I-Thou relationship which is not just a relationship to others, but to nature and to God. Applying Buber's account of man at the level of therapy, the therapist aims to show a patient his own subjectivity through engaging him in an intimate relationship in which he transcends his own concerns to enter into a full human relationship which loosens the patient's feeling of separateness. When a feeling of separateness grows it becomes more and more difficult to overcome and a patient takes refuge in his own world and the world of objects.
The therapist influenced by Buber's philosophy is open and genuine, allowing the patient to trust him and by entering into a relationship as a partner is able to liberate the patient from harmful emotions which lead to sickness. By means of seeing and understanding the very nature of the partner and what gives rise to his behaviour, the therapist can uncover the limitations and lack of full humanity in a patient's life. Through genuine dialogue which loosens the patient from the limitations of his lack of humanity and his refuge in objects, the patient is on the path to more expansive I-Thou relationships with other people than the therapist, with animals and trees, and perhaps with God. Because this sort of philosophy is a guide to what therapy should be like, it can have an effect of curing some mental ailments but only those which respond to therapy, which possibly excludes psychosis and eating disorders, but might help with exhaustion which can result from over-involvement with the world of objects. You might want to look at Buber's book "The Knowledge of Man".
Other existentialist philosophers try to address man's ailments, but are less optimistic about man's condition. For instance, Heidegger's dread and Sartre's fear are likely to make us more ill if taken too seriously!
I'm going to put my usual disclaimer here, and preface this by stating that what I'll say below is not what everyone thinks, by any means. Now, as far as therapy goes... Speaking as someone who a) has known therapists, b) worked in a couple of mental hospitals, c) done a teeny bit of crisis counseling, and d) studied experimental (not clinical, mind you) psychology, my general take on therapists is that about 85% have studied it to help themselves with their own problems, and that "schools" of therapy are mostly useful in providing education into some aspects of the human condition and problems, not as a means of teaching one to do therapy. One is an effective therapist if one listens sympathetically to another and supports that other person's own efforts to work through their problems, if they are enough in touch with reality to be capable of that; if not, probably nothing aside from drugs will help, at least to start. Boy, I'm glad I'm not standing in front of an audience of therapists and saying that; I'd be covered in tomatoes by now. Although, to be fair, I recently had a conversation with a couple of friends a psychiatrist and a counselor and they agreed with the above. I'm not just speaking off the cuff here, there have been studies of the relative effectiveness of various schools, and they conclude about the same thing. And when people talk about spending decades on a couch, under therapy, my feeling is that there's a problem there. It shouldn't take that long (sorry, Freudians).
So, in answer to your question as far as philosophy: yes, sure, as much as anything. But what does "direct route" mean? No therapist, or philosopher, is a mind reader. If you look at Being and Time, for example, you find bunches of insights into the "human condition". Are they correct? Lots of people think so. Death, fear, alienation... curiosity, "thrownness," "falling"... and why not, it's not bad stuff, especially for its time. There are libraries of that kind of thing, starting, more or less, with Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, through Freud, the existentialists, and on and on. When you ask whether philosophy has "emotional significance"... how could it not? It has whatever emotional significance you read into it. And there are lots of people who have read all those volumes and are still just as screwed up (ooh... more tomatoes) and unhappy as when they started... with maybe a bit more insight into why (or maybe not).
Now Buddhism is an interesting approach; they don't focus on people with problems so much as attempt to adjust relatively normal people to what they see as a painful and chaotic world, more or less. You're enlightened when you just don't care much any more (more tomatoes thrown at me "serenely accept" sounds better, but I'm not sure what distinction is being made). But it's not easy learning to be a Buddhist, either.
The point I'm trying to make here is that if you want help, the absolute best you can get is someone to listen carefully, and give you some emotional support and a few signposts for your own difficult, painful, incomplete, unsatisfying efforts. There are no instant miracle cures or personality makeovers, whether you're pursuing philosophy, psychology, or religious revelation. It's just hard, constant work, and no guarantee of results.
Steven Ravett Brown
This is a question about dualism. Can the mind be split like a physical part of the body can? If you remove certain parts of the brain will certain parts of the mind no longer exist, and can they be relearned without the necessary parts of the brain?
This is a very good insight into the mind-body problem, and one which has always prompted me to exhort that philosophers study neurology. In answer to your first question: yes. In answer to your second: for the most part, no.
Now, what are the implications? Suppose the mind is a "nonmaterial substance", whatever that might be, which is not generated by the brain, but is somehow associated with it, so that when we physically die, that mind just floats off somewhere. Why then, given the enormous variety of brain damage in the literature, do we see the extremely specific, long-lasting (i.e., largely irreversible) effects that we do in fact see? Well, one possibility is that the mind, the "nonmaterial" substance, could also be destroyed by the damage. But that seems to contradict the whole point of mind/brain independence. Another alternative is that the mind is still there, but it's lost some sort of connection to the brain. Well, in that case, why don't we see an effect like that of static on the radio: the program is still broadcasting, but we just can't receive it properly? But that is not what we see in brain damage; we see fundamental problems generating or constructing the mental events or acts that are associated with the affected area of the brain: the program is not being broadcast (i.e., constructed, in this case). But how can that be, if the mind is basically independent of the brain? Well, I don't have the slightest idea. The concept of dependence is precisely what we see being realized in this kind of phenomenon: if something (M) is dependent on something else (B), then if M is damaged, B is not necessarily affected, but if B is damaged, M is necessarily affected. Well, that's the case with the mind (M) vs. the brain (B).
Now, if you still want to insist that the mind is another substance from the brain, but concede that it is affected by brain damage, fine. I don't see what distinction is being made here, though. You're going to live after you die physically? Um... live how? If the brain is completely destroyed, with organic death, and the mind, whatever it is, is dependent on the brain, then all your memories are gone (hypothalamus/cortex, mostly), all your capacity for rational thought (cortex and prefrontal lobes, mostly), all your capacity for emotions (thalamus, mostly), and in fact your consciousness... gone. So whatever floats away surely isn't you; you your memories, thoughts, feelings are all destroyed with your brain. Everything I've listed here (and this is a very minimal list, but come up with a mental function, and a neuroanatomist, at this point, can pretty much tell you where it's located) is associated with various parts of the brain, including consciousness (that latter is dependent on what is known as the "extended reticular activating system"; when that is destroyed, you go into irreversible coma). Creativity? Prefrontal/cortical function, mostly. Look at the literature on Nicholas Gage, for example, or at Damasio's book, "Descartes' Error", which addresses this topic, mostly as it relates to emotion, in great detail.
Steven Ravett Brown