The peripheral mind: philosophy of mind and the peripheral nervous system

New York, NY: Oxford University Press (2013)
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Abstract

Philosophers of mind, both in the conceptual analysis tradition and in the empirical informed school, have been implicitly neglecting the potential conceptual role of the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) in understanding sensory and perceptual states. Instead, the philosophical as well as the neuroscientific literature has been assuming that it is the Central Nervous System (CNS) alone, and more exactly the brain, that should prima facie be taken as conceptually and empirically crucial for a philosophical analysis of such states This is the first monograph that focuses on the PNS and its constitutive role in sensory states, including pain, mechanoception, proprioception, tactile perception, and so forth. The author argues that the brain-centeredness of current philosophy of mind is a prejudice, and proposes a series of original ways in which classic puzzles in the philosophy of mind can be solved once the hypothesis that PNS is a constitutive element of mental states is taken seriously. The author calls this “the Peripheral Mind Hypothesis”, and employs it in a vast range of issues, such as functionalism, physicalism, mental content, embodiment, as well as some issues in neuroethics. Making equal use of conceptual analysis, empirical data from neuroscience, first-person phenomenological data, and philosophical speculation, this work offers a fresh look at, and novel solutions to many philosophical problems.

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István Aranyosi
Bilkent University

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