Smart referred to the physicalist perspective in the Mind Body problem. He argues that sensations are simply brain processes, which is an interesting idea, knowing what we now know about the brain and its high-functioning capabilities. However, he leaves a few questions with an answer that it will be explained later.
He believes that it does not seem logical that sensations and states of consciousness should not be explained by brain processes, just as other physic-chemical mechanisms are. He brings up an interesting idea that the same things cannot be “correlated” – two different ideas can be correlated, like evidence to find a murderer. But sensations and states of consciousness, he argues, can be explained through brain processes.
However, his explanation is interesting. He explains sensations by saying that we have not figured out the laws of sensations yet, but we’ll get there, that it will be explained. This is a poor argument alone. This would be like saying I believe that there is a god just because in my current knowledge, it would not make sense any other way. But even Smart recognizes this lack of any evidence and recognizes that it is simply his faith.
But then he proceeds to deny any further objections because even he knows that faith isn’t enough. He argues that are no sensations, just behavioral facts about a mechanism. The statements of “feelings,” such as “I love you,” are merely “the exercise of the disposition of loving someone.” (How romantic.) His brain makes him think a certain way, which is thus expressed in statements.
Which brings up an important notion of truth for me. This means that every statement I make, must be true because that is the way I feel. For example, if I say I feel hungry, then this must be true. Even Smart says that if someone says they see something (and is of the normal state of mind), then he is making a genuine report.
This is brought up again in Objection 6. “Sensations are private, brain processes are public.” If I were to say this sincerely, then I am not wrong. On the other hand, brain processes can be wrong. Smart answers this by saying that there needs to be an improvement to the theory and until then, the only criteria for someone feeling something are that he said so. But it seems intuitive that if it exists, we should be able to define it with criteria that demonstrate its truth-value. But how would you measure the truth-value of something that only that person knows and senses? Then, if the brain processes are all physical, why can’t we measure that? Could it be something is non-physical like Descartes suggested?
Objection 1 seems like a shortsighted argument. Objection 1 states that an uneducated person can talk about feelings but does not understand/ know anything about brain processes. Just because I don’t understand everything about something, does not mean I can’t understand part of it. Just as I know that when someone holds a spring out to its fullest length and is about to let go, I know that the spring will fly back. I do not necessarily need to know the physics behind the spring energy into kinetic. Smart replies to this similarly saying that someone can see lightening and experience it, but not know about the electrical charge that it makes.
Overall, Smart’s argument is compelling, even if there are some holes and remaining questions he leaves unanswered and makes me question, in this technological and science-explaining world we live in, if Dualism is just outdated.