One of the most interesting and compelling criticisms on "dualism", "materialisn", "monism" and any “ism” is the following argument by Chomsky: The mind-body problem can be posed sensibly only insofar as we have a definite conception of body. If we have no such definite and fixed conception, we cannot ask whether some phenomena fall beyond its range. The Cartesians offered a fairly definite conception of body in terms of their contact mechanics, which in many respects reflects commonsense understanding...[However] the Cartesian concept of body was refuted by seventeenth-century physics, particularly in the work of Isaac Newton, which laid the foundations for modern science. Newton demonstrated that the motions of the heavenly bodies could not be explained by the principles of Descartes’s contact mechanics, so that the Cartesian concept of body must be abandoned. In other words, when we think of causation in the natural world as Descartes did – that is, as involving literal contact between two extended substances – then the way in which a thought or a sensation relate to a material object becomes mysterious. Certainly it cannot be right to think of a thought or sensation as making literal physical contact with the surface of the brain, or in any other way communicating motion in a “push-pull” way. But when we give up this crude model of causation, as Newton did, the source of the mystery disappears. At the same time, no systematic positive account of what matter as such is has ever really been put forward to replace Descartes’ conception. There is no longer any definite conception of body. Rather, the material world is whatever we discover it to be, with whatever properties it must be assumed to have for the purposes of explanatory theory. Any intelligible theory that offers genuine explanations and that can be assimilated to the core notions of physics becomes part of the theory of the material world, part of our account of body. If we have such a theory in some domain, we seek to assimilate it to the core notions of physics, perhaps modifying these notions as we carry out this enterprise. That is to say, we have in Chomsky’s view various worked-out, successful theories of different parts of the natural world, and we try to integrate these by assimilating them to “the core notions of physics,” but may end up altering those core notions if we need to in order to make the assimilation work. As a result, as Chomsky once put it to John Searle, “as soon as we come to understand anything, we call it ‘physical’” (quoted by Searle in The Rediscovery of the Mind). But we have no conception of what is “physical” or “material” prior to and independently of this enterprise. And since the enterprise is not complete, “physical” and “material” have no fixed and determinate content; we simply apply them to whatever it is we happen at the moment to think we know how assimilate into the body of existing scientific theory. As a consequence: The mind-body problem can therefore not even be formulated. The problem cannot be solved, because there is no clear way to state it. Unless someone proposes a definite concept of body, we cannot ask whether some phenomena exceed its bounds.There seems to be no coherent doctrine of materialism and metaphysical naturalism, no issue of eliminativism, no mind-body problem” (New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind). In short, if the problem has no clear content, neither do any of the solutions to it. Chomsky’s preferred approach, it seems, is just to carry on the task of developing and evaluating theories of various aspects of the mind and integrating them as one can into the existing body of scientific knowledge, letting the chips fall where they may vis-à-vis the definition of “physical” or “material.” [The terms] 'body' and 'the physical world' refer to whatever there is, all of which we try to understand as best we can and to integrate into a coherent theoretical system that we call the natural sciences . . . If it were shown that the properties of the world fall into two disconnected domains, then we would, I suppose, say that that is the nature of the physical world, nothing more, just as if the world of matter and anti-matter were to prove unrelated. http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/06/chomsky-on-mind-body-problem.html http://www.chomsky.info/onchomsky/20030401.pdf There are some (Nagel) who question this view because even with future revision of physics it is argued that the problem will remain: I have heard at least one respected physicist avert that "physics is finished," meaning that even microphysics is already empirically adequate and its physical ontology, its ontology of substances, is reasonably well understood; the remaining projects of microphysics – positing superstrings, constructing a unified field theory and the like – are only matters of interpreting and mathematizing the physical ontology. If that is so, then there is no reason to think that physics will expand its ontology in so fundamental a way as to afford a reduction of the mental that was not already available. Even, if our idea of the physical ever expands to include mental phenomena, it will have to assign them an objective character-whether or not this is done by analyzing them in terms of other phenomena already regarded as physical. Any thoughts?