What difficulties stand in the way of a materialist view of the mind, according to which thoughts, feelings and sensations are ultimately nothing more than processes in the brain?

There are three difficulties that stand in the way of the acceptance of a materialist view of the mind. These are -

(1) An a priori commitment to Cartesian Dualism. In 1980 (the latest date for which I could find estimates), there were an estimated 3 billion people, out of a world population of 4.8 billion people who professed adherence to Judiac-Christian-Islamic or Hindu religious beliefs. Which means that in 1980, at least 60% of the world's population professed to religious beliefs that include the existence of an immaterial soul. In other words, over 60% of people (in North America, it is 91%) have a self-professed commitment to Cartesian Dualism. For these people, a materialist view of the mind is unacceptable, because a materialist view of the mind offers no place for an immaterial soul. A commitment to Cartesian Dualism is a metaphysical assumption. The entire world, and all experience, is viewed through the lens of Cartesian Dualism. No amount of discussion, argument or evidence can persuade a Cartesian Dualist to become a materialist. (And vice versa, of course. Materialism is also a metaphysical assumption, and no amount of discussion, argument or evidence can persuade a materialist to become a Cartesian Dualist.)

(2) The "Subjective Standpoint". Viewing the world from the "Subjective standpoint", one cannot detect, from "in here", anything that looks like brain processes. The logical conclusion then is that my thinking "I" must therefore be something different than simple brain processes. While most people spend most of their time operating from the "Objective Standpoint", they cannot shake the intuitive feeling that the Materialist interpretation of the Objective Standpoint cannot explain the "process-less" appearance of the Subjective Standpoint. Which brings us to the third difficulty.

(3) A failure of imagination. People look at minds and brains and, with their limited knowledge of the sciences, can see no way that physical processes in a material brain could generate the complexity, self-awareness, and reflective contemplation that is called a mind. More importantly, in light of the difficulty raised by the Subjective Standpoint, they can see no way that any materialistic interpretation from the Objective Standpoint can explain the Subjective Standpoint.

However, being a Materiaist with 30 years experience in the computer science industry, I have no difficulties in understanding how a deterministic process operating in a materialistic brain can generate the Subjective Standpoint.

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