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32 Philosophical Topics 505 (2004)


Understanding the relationship between the mind and the body requires understanding both the influence of body on mind, as in sensory perception, and the influence of mind on body, as in action. Motions of the body, it seems, are actions only if springing in some way from something in the mind. It seems likely that describing the aspects of the mind from which actions spring, not to mention describing what this "springing" amounts to, will require saying something about trying to act. After all, in many cases trying to act seems to be the first thing that a person does in translating her plans and her aims into action. In order to act, it seems, we ordinarily first have to try. To try to act, however, is not merely to prompt action; it's also to act. Some behavior, even if only a twitch, is required for an agent to be trying. Thus trying seems to have a foot both in the mental and the physical and so it seems, and has seemed to others, to be the crucial element in the mind-body connection exhibited in action.

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