We all take for granted that our minds decide the actions of our body, and in everyday life we explain others’ behaviour in terms of their preferences, personalities or opinions. Sometimes we even attribute thought to inanimate objects, or intentionality to pets, such as dogs and cats. Each of us believes that she has a mind that is separate from her body or – as the ancients would put it – a soul that is distinct from the body. Advances in neuroscience have contributed to an alternative standpoint, which underlines how mental functions are of an exclusively cerebral nature. The authors of this text address the mind-body conundrum and analyze the reasons why, even if we accept the above-mentioned reductionist view, we continue to think, feel and act according to a dualist perspective, which posits that body and soul are separate and we need the latter to understand the former.
Paolo Legrenzi is professor emeritus of Psychology at the Ca’ Foscari University in Venice.
Carlo Umiltà is professor emeritus of Neuropsychology at the University of Padova.