Biological Naturalism And Perception

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Biological Naturalism and Perception
The Understanding of How Bodies Constituent Existence
Tyler Smith
University of North Texas
Professor Thompson
PHIL 3800.001
12 December 2014

Biological Naturalism and Perception
The Understanding of How Bodies Constituent Existence

In John Searle’s Mind: A Brief Introduction, his theory of Biological Naturalism is presented and described as a solution to the mind-body problem. How can causal relations exist between mental and physical realms? Searle’s theory advocates perception, a mental phenomenon, as a biological feature of the brain, physical phenomena. Biological Naturalism does not eliminate, through means of reduction, nor separate mental and physical phenomena. As an alternative, events are described as taking place within a unified system operating at different levels. Searle anticipates that technological advances will reveal the neuronal link between conscious states and physical bodies, verifying Biological Naturalism. With the aim of gaining an enriched understanding of perceptual experiences the detailed frameworks of Dualism and Materialism will be presented. The concept of reduction will be used to refute materialism as a possible explanation accounting for the connection between mental and physical phenomena. In addition, the opposing ideology behind dualism, separating physical and mental realms, will be discussed to fortify the argument for Biological Naturalism. Concluding, that neither of these theories adequately deciphers reality in relation to the mind through an understanding of mental perception. Two scientific approaches aimed at understanding mental cognition, the building-block approach and the unified-field approach, will be discussed to facilitate a better understanding of conscious states and how they shape our perception. John Searle’s theory of Biological Naturalism promotes the neuronal link between physical and mental phenomena and will be offered, instead, to provide a holistic view of the human experience through an understanding of cognitive perception. To begin, the definition of perception must be clarified before the function of cognitive states in relation to the external world can be understood. According to Searle (2004), perception is the “information about the world, we then coordinate…both consciously and unconsciously, [to] make decisions or otherwise form intentions, which result in actions by way of which we cope with the world” (p.179). Perception is the organization, identification and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment. Cognition is a facilitating factor used in the processing of information, such as perception, and the application of knowledge. Underneath the scope of philosophy, the concept of cognition is closely related to abstract concepts such as the mind – encompassing mental functions, mental processes, and states of intelligent entities. Researchers studying cognitive perception intend to interpret how stimuli from the external world interact with our sensory systems. Studies have indicated that all perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from the physical stimulation of sense organs. For example, smell is mediated by odor molecules, vision is induced when light strikes the retina of the eyes, and hearing is produced by pressure waves. All of these external inputs contribute to the creation of perceptual experiences that enable our overall subjective existence. With that being said, perception is understood as a cognitive process that operates on a neuronal level to aid in the organization of external stimuli. Now, metaphysics is an area of philosophical study that examines the nature of reality; such as, the relationship between mind and matter. For centuries, theologians have debated the connection between mental and physical realms, enquiring as to how our realities are experienced via perceptual processes.