Here’s John Searle, most famous for his Chinese room argument against the possibility of programming a mind on a computer and who reminds me most of a figure from my childhood growing up in the Chicago area, snarky Sun Times columnist Mike Royko.
Here Searle gives us, in a mere minute and 20 seconds (the latter part of this clip), his solution to the mind-body problem, which is that if we stick to the facts and don’t try to impose some sort of ontological preconceptions onto the situation, then it seems much less mysterious. Just to spell out his four points for examination:
1. Consciousness is real and irreducible.
2. Consciousness is caused by brain processes.
3. Consciousness exists in the brain.
4. Consciousness functions causally.
If you accept all four of these claims, which he thinks are all very well established by common experience and/or science, then the main task becomes trying to refute arguments that say that they’re incompatible. The challenge is that if you come at these facts with a framework that creates a conflict between them (e.g. the idea that science is committed to a physicalist ontology or that a difference in our epistemic access to things implies an ontological difference of the sort that raises interaction problems), then the burden is on you to justify this framework and to refute one of these claims using evidence and/or intuitions that are more powerful than what appears to support it.
If you accept all four of these claims, does that actually address the chief area of discomfort with the mind-body relation? To my mind, Searle is claiming that the relation is in a sense basic. Much like causality (which Hume claims we just can’t understand, despite the fact that we can happily use it as a foundation for science), the mind just is some parts or activities of the brain, seen from a different point of view. Neuropsychology (which relies on first-person reports; if you want to establish that some brain process is equivalent to thinking of your mom, you have to ask your subjects if they’re thinking of their mom) can establish tight correlations between consciousness and brain states. From there, you can posit that either mind and body are simply correlated in some inexplicable way, or that they’re one and the same thing. Searle sees too many problems with the first option and so is willing to accept what may be counterintuitive about the second.