Since the time of the philosopher Descartes, Western culture has suffered an unfortunate separation in its understanding of how the body relates to the mind. The two are seen as being at odds with each other. In some of the worse scenarios, mind itself is what is of value, or is representative of the true self, and the body is denigrated into the vessel through which your mind operates. Mind and body thus divided results in the idea that what one does with one’s body is of no significant consequence or value. The body, and therefore nature itself, is therefore open to exploitation and possible misuse.
An assumption that is made often in the West is that the mind somehow subsides in or animates the body. Mind is viewed as the core force, that aspect of the human person that really matters. Your number one enemy according to this idea is your body, which seems to contain its own set of desires that work contrary to the purer intents and purposes of your mind. Severe asceticism and the denial of help to those who suffer bodily is one of the end results at the rational far end of this philosophical dichotomy. If someone’s body doesn’t really matter, is it really evil if he starves?
In order to stave off bad attitudes and practices, there are those through history who have proposed that the mind is not all that matters, being carried about by an otherwise corrupt and worthless body, but mind and body both matter and are of value. How? At this point, all logic becomes as choppy as the rapids on a dangerous river. A few have offered that the two aspects are indeed separate, but that body and mind somehow interpenetrate each other. How this is so is a bit harder to explain, however. Your mind may be literally in your heart, but if your heart fails and is replaced with a new heart, has thing somehow changed the reality of your mind and who you are? Some would say yes, but most scientists would say hogwash.
The rationalistic approach assumes that the mind and the experience of consciousness is just a fluke of evolution, a subjective interpretation of natural chemical processes in the body. Mind in this view isn’t elevated above the body, but both mind and body are brought down to the same level – the former viewed as the biological manifestation of experiences that are conducted in the processes of the latter. If both mind and body are viewed as being basically the same thing – physical organs working together in the comprised living organism of the human animal – then both lose value beyond immediate experience and usefulness.
Another ancient view from the east proposes that both mind and body compose the reality that is the human soul. The notion that mind and body both exist in a paradoxical and mysterious unity was once the accepted assumption in many parts of the world. Both your mind and your body have significant value because both comprise the unity of the self.