The mind–body problem in philosophy examines the relationship between mind and matter, and in particular the relationship between consciousness and the brain. the problem was famously addressed by rené descartes in the 17th century, resulting in cartesian dualism, and by pre-aristotelian philosophers, in avicennian philosophy, and in earlier asian traditions. a variety of approaches have been proposed. most are either dualist or monist. dualism maintains a rigid distinction between the realms of mind and matter. monism maintains that there is only one unifying reality, substance or essence in terms of which everything can be explained. each of these categories contain numerous variants. the two main forms of dualism are substance dualism, which holds that the mind is formed of a distinct type of substance not governed by the laws of physics, and property dualism, which holds that mental properties involving conscious experience are fundamental properties, alongside the fundamental properties identified by a completed physics. the three main forms of monism are physicalism, which holds that the mind consists of matter organized in a particular way; idealism, which holds that only thought truly exists and matter is merely an illusion; and neutral monism, which holds that both mind and matter are aspects of a distinct essence that is itself identical to neither of them. several philosophical perspectives have been developed which reject the mind–body dichotomy. the historical materialism of karl marx and subsequent writers, itself a form of physicalism, held that consciousness was engendered by the material contingencies of one's environment. an explicit rejection of the dichotomy is found in french structuralism, and is a position that generally characterized post-war french philosophy. the absence of an empirically identifiable meeting point between the non-physical mind and its physical extension has proven problematic to dualism and many modern philosophers of mind maintain that the mind is not something separate from the body. these approaches have been particularly influential in the sciences, particularly in the fields of sociobiology, computer science, evolutionary psychology, and the neurosciences.