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The mind body problem: the hermeneutics of African philosophy

Celestine Chukwuemeka Mbaegbu


Philosophers of different ages, epochs and ideological orientations have engaged themselves in a heated debate on the issue of the mind- body interaction. Indeed, there are two different but interactive entities in man with different modes of action yet interacting in themost subtlemanner as to produce in aman , amind able to have effects on his body and vice versa. The mind body problemis all about the nature and extent of interaction of these two entities. When a person experiences a mental event, is there any relation between the mental event and the person's body? Western philosophers generally situate this problem on the platform of substance, the central concern of metaphysics whose speculative arguments and the static conception of reality have rent asunder the train of Western philosophy. Thus many Western philosophers approached the duality of experience by assuming that the subject and object are two separate and independent realities. For themindbody problem two theories were advocated by the West: monistic and dualistic theories. The African on the other hand conceives all that is as 'force', which is the cosmic universal force, and only modern, rationalizing thought can abstract from its manifestations. This dynamic view of reality among Africans rejects the Cartesian picture, the source of the notorious mind-body problem, which continues to haunt scholars of Western philosophy. This paper adopts the method of analysis and hermeneutics to investigate the African conception of the problemvis-à-vis theWestern conception and the conclusion is that dualism is basic in explaining the composition of the human person but not in the duality of dualism and conception of reality as being or substance.

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print ISSN: 2006-5442