Ever wanted to be someone else? What would it be like to be someone else? In Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich (1999), Craig (John Cusack), a struggling puppeteer, stumbles upon a portal that allows those who enter it the experience of ‘being John Malkovich’ – or does it?
The mind/ body problem is as old as philosophy itself. Usually, people fall into one of two camps here – materialism (also known as physicalism) or dualism. Materialists believe that there is essentially one kind of thing in the world – matter. As such, everything – including our thoughts, feelings, and conscious experience in general – can be reduced to no more than the function of neurons firing in our brain (or whatever science tells us happens in there). Dualists, on the other hand, believe in the existence two fundamental ‘substances’ – matter and mind. Mind, they argue, is non-physical. Today, the vast majority of philosophers advocate some form of materialism and support for dualism is, sadly, waning.