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Physicalism refers to a stand by some philosophers that everything in the world is physical. Physicalism in some cases is referred to as materialism, where everything is viewed to have physical properties. With respect to philosophy, Physicalism is the ontological point of view that there is nothing above and over the physical. Physicalists view the nature or the world as one and believe that everything including mind has physical properties and thus it is physical. In the attempt to prove their view of the world, Physicalists has come up with diverse explanation to bring out the relationship that exists between different aspects of nature including psychological states and properties.
To understand the relationship between physical properties and mental properties, realization, reductive and supervenience ideas have been used by the physicalists. However, critics argue that physicalism is a false view of nature. This research paper will seek to determine the relationship that exists between psychological states or properties and physical properties according to Physicalism. In addition, the paper will bring into light reasons behind this relationship.
Relationship between psychological properties and physical properties according to PhysicalismIn the attempt to bring out the relationship between the physical properties and psychological properties, philosophers such as Lewis used supervenience approach. This approach is simply based on meta-ethics and indicates that physical properties and mental properties are closely related due to the fact that psychological properties are part of the physical properties (Daniel, 2010). In other words, philosophers assert that psychological properties such as thinking are enclosed by physical properties. To make the argument certain, philosophers such as Lewis give an example where he refers dots on a picture as physical properties and claims that the picture is like the global features or the world. The same way he affirms that psychological properties and other properties including biological properties are like dots on the global features. Supervenience idea of the explaining physicalism asserts that psychological properties are nothing but simply physical properties (Kim, 2008).
Psychological or mental properties such as pain are viewed as physical according to physicalists as they believe that the physical aspect of pain is casually closed by the major physical properties. According to Kim, (2008), supervenience tries to bring out the identical aspect between the physical properties and psychological properties. The fact that psychological or mental properties are part of physical properties indicates similarity according to the physicalists (Daniel, 2010). This is particularly supported by the general view of physicalism that the world is a single stuff. According to the physicalists, mental or psychological properties are dependant to physical properties and thus there can not be physical difference without psychological difference. Simply, psychological properties supervene on material properties and thus they are just but the same thing.
According to Physicalism, physical properties can be reduced to mental or psychological properties. The notion of reductive by the physicalism brings out the relationship between mental properties and physical properties (Kim, 2008). Essentially, physicalists use reductive idea to ascertain their idea that the world is made of a single stuff that is physical properties only. Physicalism philosophers affirms that there is a close relationship between physical properties and psychological or mental properties particularly basing their argument that mental properties are smaller components of physical properties and thus are physical properties. Realization theory is another approach used by the physicalism to bring out possible relations between psychological or mental properties and physical properties (Daniel, 2010). Based on this theory, all psychological properties can be realized through a particular physical basis (Kim, 2008).
In a philosophical perspective, physicalists argue that all physical properties or predicates can be traced or are definable in physical language. This implies that there is a close relation between the two and according to physicalism they are inseparable (Daniel, 2010). Physicalists affirms that the fact that physical properties can be reduced to mental or psychological properties implies that the two are identical and simply has a close relationship.
Physicalism believes that everything inside the world has physical properties and the world itself is a physical thing in its own nature. The developed understanding from this argument is that everything considered as physical thing has its own physical properties which in reality has its own psychological properties. This claim can be explained further by application of ontological perspective which involves both methodological and epistemological corollaries. According to the Physicalists, every object in the world is composed of different material which in reality encompasses different physical properties (Kim, 2011). Therefore, physical properties exhibit different properties such as mass, shape volume, energy, temperature and volume among others. In reference to the reductive physicalism, objects with high levels of properties are more reducible hence there is a high chance that they have physical properties. Jackson (2002) affirms that physicalism is more dependent on philosophical position which presents a myth that everything that exists in the earth has physical properties. From this explanation the understanding developed is that physicalism is closely associated with philosophy of mind which extensively believes that mind is a physical object which can be viewed at different perspectives (Kim, 2011).
In reference to physical science point of view, physicalism includes bigger notations as opposed to just matter, space energy and time. The mind being in a form of a physical world, it is closely associated with non reductive physicalism. Fodor in his own research argues that physicalism is dependent will all genuine items which can be referred to either identical or are dependent upon other physical properties (Clarke, 2003). In order to accept these believe of physicalism, it vital to understand how it is related with mind dualism rejection. According to Fodor, “mentalism” is the best alternative of the dualism. Basically, physicalism believes that the concept of the consciousness is entirely dependent of the physical properties (Clarke, 2003). The state of the mind is a functional that exists in a given system. In relation to the theory of functionalism, brain is extensively believed to be a just biological implementation in a given system. The general understanding it, that the brain has capacity to recognize any change in mental status. Dualism theory is quite different from physicalism because it argues that consciousness is not related to the physical.
According to Savellos and Yalçin, (1995), panpsychism theory explains that all items which contain aspects of reality within themselves have psychological properties in additional to their physical properties. Critics argue that hardcore physicalists are more concerned to investigate the structure of the outer world in the bid of trying to understand the build relationship between the physical properties and psychological properties. Ultimately, the physical properties and mental are two distinctive area but they are contingently connected with each other. Philosophically, mind is believed to be dependent on the physical properties. Therefore, based with the explanation of the physicalism the empirical world is composed of all properties or entities which have effects of causes. Notably, both mental facts and physical have a close relationship with physicalism in relation to mental effects and causes. According to many physicalists the world in general is a physical hence everything in it have its own physical properties. When reviewing the world at a supervenience base, it helps to reflect the general thinking of the physicalists. This implies that the relationship between of fundamental physical properties and psychological properties are closely dependent on each other as per the explanation of Physicalism (Clarke, 2003). The two features have the common bond of metaphysics because they are depending on certain established physical facts.
From the above discussion, it is evident that Physicalism extensively refers to a developed understanding by some philosophers who believe that everything in the world is physical hence have its own physical properties. In addition, Physicalism can also be referred to as materialism, where everything is viewed to have physical properties. Psychological or mental properties such as pain are viewed as physical according to physicalists as they believe that the physical aspect of pain is casually closed by the major physical properties. Therefore, this is an indication that the state of the mind is a functional that exists in a given system.
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Kim, J. (2008). Physicalism, or Something Near Enough. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Kim, J. (2011). Philosophy of Mind. ReadHowYouWant.com, Limited, 2011
Savellos, E. E., & Yalçin, U. D. (1995). Supervenience: New essays. Cambridge [England: Cambridge University Press.