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The identity thesis-otherwise known as identity theory, reductive materialism or central-state theory-asserts that there is a direct correlation between the mind and the brain or the mental states and the brain states. It therefore attempts to answer the age-old philosophical problem of identity and selfhood in terms of mind-body processes and states. Reductive Materialism as the name implies merely reduces individual identity to the mere interaction of the brain and the mind, claiming that behaviors are manifestations of internal activities in the body.
Thoughts, for instance-under the identity thesis-are result of the neural activities inside the central nervous system (CNS); pain is felt and the location is determined through brain mechanisms; and depression as a mental state is said to be caused by “changes in the chemistry of the brain” (Causes of Depression 2006). Paul Churchland supports identity theory claiming that “mental states of the body are one and in the same (double aspectism) with brain states.
They are the same because the biochemical actions produced in brain states (release of serotonin and acetylcholine) have direct interaction with the mental states (mood disorders such as depression)” (The Identity Theory 2008). This parallelism between mental phenomena and the brain can be established and verified by determining whether any alteration in the brain state produces corresponding change in the mental state of an individual.
Identity theory receives many criticisms from many contemporary thinkers and philosophers; one of them is Charles Taylor. In his book, Sources of the Self (The Making of the Modern Identity), Taylor pounds on the basic tenets of reductive materialism asserting that identity thesis does not adequately address the question-“Who am I? ” . For Taylor, the self or individual identity is closely linked with moral orientation.
He believes that an individual is more than just a combination of mind and body but is defined primarily by the framework he finds himself in and the moral space he occupies. In his words: “To know who you are is to be oriented in moral space, a space in which questions arise about what is good or bad, what is worth doing and what not, what has meaning and importance for you and what is trivial and secondary” (1989 p 28).
References Causes of Depression. (2006). Healthy Place. com, Inc. Retrieved March 06, 2008 from http://www. healthyplace. com/communities/depression/causes. asp The Identity Theory. Anti Essays. Retrieved March 6, 2008, from the World Wide Web: http://www. antiessays. com/free-essays/1193. html Taylor, Charles. (1989). Sources of the self: the making of the modern identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.