Cortical conversations: A review essay on cognition, computation and consciousness [Book Review]

Philosophical Psychology 12 (4):525 – 534 (1999)
Abstract
The question is, How does the brain make its mind? In Cognition, computation and consciousness [Ito et al. (Eds) (1997) Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press], a variety of noted theoreticians from the fields of cognitive psychology, computer science, and philosophy postulate answer-blueprints rather than full-blown explanatory solutions to this most nettlesome question. Coming to the problem from quite different starting points and perspectives, they nevertheless succeed in reaching consensus on the idea that the contingencies of the brain's evolution have resulted in an organ that generates its mind by a complex process of information exchange among its constituents. Put in the vernacular, the brain produces its mind by having its parts, especially those most recently evolved, talk to each other. In this essay I take a critical look at proposals of several celebrated (neuro)scientists and philosophers in their specific areas of expertise. The underlying theme of brain component communication suggests the image of conversations in the cortex. From such cortical conversations arise selves (the mind/brain's I) and their stories and projects. This in turn suggests the idea that the brain is a stage where a Pirandello-like play is continually rehearsed.
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