Sociology Functionalism Essays

Sociology Functionalism Essays-37
Functionalism is the doctrine that what makes something a thought, desire, pain (or any other type of mental state) depends not on its internal constitution, but solely on its function, or the role it plays, in the cognitive system of which it is a part.

Functionalism is the doctrine that what makes something a thought, desire, pain (or any other type of mental state) depends not on its internal constitution, but solely on its function, or the role it plays, in the cognitive system of which it is a part.

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This doctrine is rooted in Aristotle's conception of the soul, and has antecedents in Hobbes's conception of the mind as a “calculating machine”, but it has become fully articulated (and popularly endorsed) only in the last third of the 20th century.

Just as the form of an axe is whatever enables it to cut, and the form of an eye is whatever enables it to see, the (human) soul is to be identified with whichever powers and capacities enable a natural, organized human body to fulfill its defining function, which, according to Aristotle, is to survive and flourish as a living, acting, perceiving, and reasoning being.

So, Aristotle argues, the soul is inseparable from the body, and comprises whichever capacities are required for a body to live, perceive, reason, and act.

Suppose that, in humans, there is some distinctive kind of neural activity (C-fiber stimulation, for example) that meets these conditions.

If so, then according to this functionalist theory, humans can be in pain simply by undergoing C-fiber stimulation.

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