Sample Philosophy Essays on Theory of the Mind

Theory of the Mind

The main concepts in the theory of the mind include intentions, beliefs, and desires that are utilized to understand the reasons why a person acts in a particular way, or how the person is most likely to act. That is, the theory of mind focuses on understanding an individual as they relate to the social stratum.  The false-belief task has been used as a measurement of the theory of mind (Thompson 1). There are instances of the theory being utilized to measure any form of delay in development, especially in children. It can also be used to differentiate persistence in adolescence and childhood. The importance of having an understanding of the theory of mind is that it helps in diagnosing delays while creating an effective way of intervention to support and encourage any form of progress in development. There are different theories of mind and two of these are  the Identity theory and Cartesian dualism which are analyzed below.

The Cartesian dualism theory of mind is mainly concerned with man’s dual existence. Descartes categorized man into two parts consisting of mind and matter. In this case, the body represents matter and it includes the physical activities such as walking and talking, while the mind is non-physical which involves the way in which man thinks or remembers. According to Descartes, the immaterial mind of a person and their material body, though separate, are connected to each other through interactions. He provides an example of the body which can be separated into various parts. For instance, the leg and the arms can be cut off from the body, but it is impossible to separate the human mind or soul from the body, which represents the dual existence that the Cartesian dualism theory attempts to explain (Mehta 205). The concept is mostly accepted by Christians who believe in the Bible, but it is easily rejected by people who have an opposite worldview.

The main argument of the Cartesian dualism theory is that the human mind has the potential to pull the body to perform certain actions, which shows the connection between the two. It shows how the nonphysical human mind and the physical interact with each other. Descartes claims that the pineal gland is  the main connector between the body and the mind because this part of the brain cannot be duplicated in any way. It shows that the mind cannot be divided like the human body which shows that it is whole. It means that human beings can cut their hair, lose their limb or their hand; however, they are not able to minimize or divide their brain or mind (Mehta 202). Descartes was fully convinced about the existence of the mind to the extent that he doubted whether his physical body existed.   He believed that the process of doubting is an indication of the mind in action. Therefore, his mind was working and existed, or else he could not be in doubt.

Identity Theory

Unlike the Cartesian dualism theory, the Identity theory did not believe that the mind was one entity. According to the latter theory, the mind and the body are fully connected to each other and without one the other cannot function properly. The main argument is that there are some types of mental states which are identical to states of  brain.  David Armstrong came up with the idea that the human mind (mental states) had a huge similarity with the physical states. On the other hand, some philosophers believed that the mind emerged with the brain. That is, the mind is not a single entity as claimed by Descartes in the Cartesian dualism theory. The philosophers saw the emergence of the brain and the mind to produce new “laws” which were self-organized (IEP 1). However, based on this view, the mind acts on its own; this differentiates it from the brain. The best example that they provide is the fact that when the brain is not functioning properly, the mental properties will also be impaired showing a connection between the brain and the mind. It helps in solving the mystery of why a child who is having mental problems shows delayed growth rate (Thompson 1). Nonetheless, the laws or the events that come from the mind are not predicted by the brain, which is a similar argument like the Cartesian dualism theory which views the mind as a single entity.

The Best Theory

The best theory, in this case, is the Identity theory because it shows a strong connection between the mind and the body. The reason for making this claim is that when the brain is not functioning properly, the human mind will also be impaired.  Another example which shows the connection is that when the mind of a person is not right, it may end up affecting how the body behaves. An example is a child with autism whose body growth is delayed because his/her mind is not properly functioning. .



Works Cited

IEP. Identity theory. Retrieved from

Mehta, Neeta. “Mind-body Dualism: A Critique from a Health Perspective.” Mens Sana Monogr Vol 9. No. 1, 2011, 202-209. Retrieved from

Thompson, Brittany. “Theory of Mind: Understanding Others in a World.” Psychology Today. 3 July, 2017.