[Don't blame me for this. It was Nick's posting about the idea of replicating a human's mind in a computer that got me started Thinking Aloud on the Tomato, homage to Natalie Solent at Samizdata.]
Consider the tomato. Well, not “the” tomato, but a tomato. A nice, fresh, juicy tomato upon the countertop. Enticing, not at all like a patient etherized upon a table.
The tomato originated as part of a tomato plant. This hardly needs saying, so I said it. But forget the parent plant. Consider this particular tomato alone and in itself.
When you eat the tomato, it will be full of delicious juice which will run down your chin, so I hope you are wearing a bib. Or an old work-shirt, dark and with holes in it. Real ones, that were free (but you had to work to get them in there). Or even nekked above the waist. (Below the waist is your own business.)
So there will be this fresh, tasty juice in your mouth. Rich with the flavor of the tomato.
But — what is the “flavor” of the tomato?
Does the tomato have a flavor if no one* is eating it?
Well, no, strictly speaking. (When we talk about the “flavor” of tomatoes in general, we are generalizing the concept of the flavors of many particular tomatoes. It’s a somewhat different meaning of the word. There is a net similarity in the flavors of all tomatoes, and that similar similarity is what we call the “tomato flavor.”)
The flavor arises from the tomato — it originates in the tomato — but it becomes flavor only because our taste buds and olfactory system react to its juice and send certain signals to the brain. This signalling-receiving process, we call “sensing.”
Its flavor is our name for our experiencing of the sensations that the tomato induces in our sense organs. The flavor as such exists only because it induces a certain experience of which our consciousness is aware, and which our mind conceptualizes and to which it attaches the symbol “flavor of the tomato.”
So, the flavor comes from the tomato, but it is not the tomato. It is actually in the human* consciousness or awareness of the interactions between the tomato (actually, the juicy bite of the tomato in the mouth) and our physical bodies. Depending on one’s context, the flavor is conceptually distinct from the tomato whose effect it is; but in another aspect, the flavor is of the tomato; the chemicals that we sense and conceptualize as “flavor,” its potential flavor, are actually present in the tomato, which is where it all begins.
I suppose you could say the flavor is a potential in the tomato proper, but only is realized in the human* body and mind.
Similarly, our mind is a result of our body, but it is not our body. Rather, it is the way we experience our body. It is the way the brain manifests our physical self to us, at any given instant.
In that sense, there is no “problem of the mind-brain dichotomy.” The mind is a manifestation of the brain at any particular instant. That these are conceptually different is not a problem, and this is not rocket science.
(And for the religious, what of the Soul? I’m hardly an expert on any theory of the Soul, but it seems to me that the Mind would then be a manifestation of the Body-and-Soul, and with that substitution there would still be no Problem of the Mind-Body/Soul Dichotomy.)