Much mischief concerning the concept of a human body is generated by the failure of philosophers to distinguish various important senses of the term 'body.' I discuss three of those senses and illustrate the issues they can generate by discussing the concept of a Lockean exchange of bodies as well as the brain-body switch.
I much appreciate the honour of being invited to deliver the first Manson lecture, which, its founder has laid down, is to be devoted to the consideration of some subject of common interest to philosophy and medicine. I cannot think of anything which better fulfils that condition than the neurological approach to the problem of perception. The neurologist holds the bridge between body and mind. Every day he meets with examples of disordered perception and he learns from observing the (...) effects of lesions produced by disease, or by the physiologist's experiments, something of how the neural basis of perception is organized. It is possible to study perception as though this was largely irrelevant. How far that view is right will be for you to judge when I have finished. (shrink)
It is a commonplace of contemporary thought that the mind is located in the brain. Although there have been some challenges to this view, it has remained mainstream outside of a few specialized discussions, and plays a prominent role in a wide variety of philosophical arguments. It is further assumed that the source of this view is empirical. I argue it is not. Empirical discoveries show conclusively that the brain is the central organ of mental life, but do (...) not show that it is the mind's location . The data are just as compatible with a view where mentality is a human capacity on the model of circulation or respiration, with the brain playing the same kind of role as the heart or lungs. The standard conception of the brain as the locus of mind stems, I claim, from the imposition of a Cartesian conception of the self on a materialist ontology. Recognizing that the empirical data do not justify such a move casts doubt on the foundations of a number of philosophical discussions and raises new questions about the nature of the psychological subject. (shrink)
A great deal of philosophy of mind in the modern era has been driven by an intense aversion to Cartesian dualism. In the 1950s, materialists claimed to have succeeded once and for all in exorcising the Cartesian ghost by identifying the mind with the brain. In subsequent decades, cognitive science put scientific meat on this metaphysical skeleton by explicating mental processes as digital computation implemented in the brain's hardware.
--œWhere Brain, Body, and World Collide--� reprinted by permission of Daedalus, Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, from the issue entitled, --œThe Brain,--� Spring 1998, Vol. 127, No. 2.
This book is a discussion of the most timely and contentious issues in the two branches of neuroethics: the neuroscience of ethics; and the ethics of neuroscience. Drawing upon recent work in psychiatry, neurology, and neurosurgery, it develops a phenomenologically inspired theory of neuroscience to explain the brain-mind relation. The idea that the mind is shaped not just by the brain but also by the body and how the human subject interacts with the environment has significant implications (...) for free will, moral responsibility, and moral justification of actions. It also provides a better understanding of how different interventions in the brain can benefit or harm us. In addition, the book discusses brain imaging techniques to diagnose altered states of consciousness, deep-brain stimulation to treat neuropsychiatric disorders, and restorative neurosurgery for neurodegenerative diseases. It examines the medical and ethical trade-offs of these interventions in the brain when they produce both positive and negative physical and psychological effects, and how these trade-offs shape decisions by physicians and patients about whether to provide and undergo them. (shrink)
When a chimpanzee stockpiles rocks as weapons or when a frog sends out mating calls, we might easily assume these animals know their own motivations--that they use the same psychological mechanisms that we do. But as Beyond the Brain indicates, this is a dangerous assumption because animals have different evolutionary trajectories, ecological niches, and physical attributes. How do these differences influence animal thinking and behavior? Removing our human-centered spectacles, Louise Barrett investigates the mind and brain and offers an (...) alternative approach for understanding animal and human cognition. Drawing on examples from animal behavior, comparative psychology, robotics, artificial life, developmental psychology, and cognitive science, Barrett provides remarkable new insights into how animals and humans depend on their bodies and environment--not just their brains--to behave intelligently. Barrett begins with an overview of human cognitive adaptations and how these color our views of other species, brains, and minds. Considering when it is worth having a big brain--or indeed having a brain at all--she investigates exactly what brains are good at. Showing that the brain's evolutionary function guides action in the world, she looks at how physical structure contributes to cognitive processes, and she demonstrates how these processes employ materials and resources in specific environments. Arguing that thinking and behavior constitute a property of the whole organism, not just the brain, Beyond the Brain illustrates how the body, brain, and cognition are tied to the wider world. (shrink)
In this introductory work, Mind and Brain: A Dialogue on the Mind-Body Problem, 2nd edition, Gennaro updates and expands the work to reflect current topics and discussions. The dialogue provides a clear and compelling overview of the mind-body problem suitable for both introductory students and those who have some background in the philosophy of mind. Topics include: Immortality, Materialism, Descartes' "Divisibility Argument" for substance dualism, The "Argument from Introspection" for substance dualism, The main objections to dualism, The (...) interaction between mind and brain, The relation between brain damage and the prospect of an afterlife, Parallelism and epiphenomenalism, The type/token distinction within materialism and the problem of multiple realizability, Arguments against materialism and its ability to explain consciousness, Property dualism and panpsychism, The epistemological problem of other minds, The nature of inductive knowledge, Evidence for animal consciousness, The problem of machine or robot minds, The inverted spectrum argument. Also included are a brief Introduction, a list of Study Questions designed to enhance classroom discussion and serve as a resource for the development of paper topics, a Glossary, and an Index of Key Terms. (shrink)
The emerging consensus in the philosophy of cognition is that cognition is situated, i.e., dependent upon or co-constituted by the body, the environment, and/or the embodied interaction with it. But what about emotions? If the brain alone cannot do much thinking, can the brain alone do some emoting? If not, what else is needed? Do (some) emotions (sometimes) cross an individual's boundary? If so, what kinds of supra-individual systems can be bearers of affective states, and why? And (...) does that make emotions ?embedded? or ?extended? in the sense cognition is said to be embedded and extended? Section 2 shows why it is important to understand in which sense body, environment, and our embodied interaction with the world contribute to our affective life. Section 3 introduces some key concepts of the debate about situated cognition. Section 4 draws attention to an important disanalogy between cognition and emotion with regard to the role of the body. Section 5 shows under which conditions a contribution by the environment results in non-trivial cases of ?embedded? emotions. Section 6 is concerned with affective phenomena that seem to cross the organismic boundaries of an individual, in particular with the idea that emotions are ?extended? or ?distributed.? (shrink)
A mature science strives to provide causal explanations of observed phenomena rather than focusing on taxonomic descriptions of data. A field theory model is a step towards providing a truly scientific account of development. However, the model is under-constrained in that it ignores the boundary conditions defined by the physical constraints imposed by the infant's developing brain and body.
The problem of free will lies at the heart of modern scientific studies of consciousness. An influential series of experiments by Libet has suggested that conscious intentions arise as a result of brain activity. This contrasts with traditional concepts of free will, in which the mind controls the body. A more recent study by Haggard and Eimer has further examined the relation between intention and brain processes, concluding that conscious awareness of intention is linked to the choice (...) or selection of a specific action, and not to the earliest initiation of action processes. The exchange of views in this paper further explores the relation between conscious intention and brain activity. (shrink)
Synthetic approaches to social interaction support the development of a second-person neuroscience. Agent-based models and psychological experiments can be related in a mutually informing manner. Models have the advantage of making the nonlinear brainenvironmentbrain system as a whole accessible to analysis by dynamical systems theory. We highlight some general principles of how social interaction can partially constitute an individual's behavior.
We argue that the minimal biological requirements for consciousness include a living body, not just neuronal processes in the skull. Our argument proceeds by reconsidering the brain-in-a-vat thought experiment. Careful examination of this thought experiment indicates that the null hypothesis is that any adequately functional “vat” would be a surrogate body, that is, that the so-called vat would be no vat at all, but rather an embodied agent in the world. Thus, what the thought experiment actually shows (...) is that the brain and body are so deeply entangled, structurally and dynamically, that they are explanatorily inseparable. Such entanglement implies that we cannot understand consciousness by considering only the activity of neurons apart from the body, and hence we have good explanatory grounds for supposing that the minimal realizing system for consciousness includes the body and not just the brain. In this way, we put the brain-in-a-vat thought experiment to a new use, one that supports the “enactive” view that consciousness is a life-regulation process of the whole organism interacting with its environment. (shrink)
Mind Ecologies: Body, Brain, and World: Book Abstract from Columbian University Press -/- Matthew Crippen and Jay Schulkin -/- Pragmatism, a pluralistic philosophy with kinships to phenomenology, Gestalt psychology and embodied cognitive science, is resurging across disciplines. It has growing relevance to literary studies, the arts, and religious scholarship, along with branches of political theory, not to mention our understanding of science. But philosophies and sciences of mind have lagged behind this pragmatic turn, for the most part retaining (...) a central-nervous-system orientation, which pragmatists rejected as far too narrow. -/- Matthew Crippen, a biologically orientated philosopher of mind, and Jay Schulkin, a pioneer in neuroscience, offer an innovative interdisciplinary theory of mind. They argue that pragmatism in combination with phenomenology is not only able to give an unusually persuasive rendering of how we think, feel, experience, and act in the world but also the account most consistent with evidence from cognitive science and neurobiology. Crippen and Schulkin contend that cognition, emotion, and perception are incomplete without action, and in action they fuse together. Not only are we embodied subjects whose thoughts, emotions, and capacities comprise one integrated system; we are living ecologies inseparable from our surroundings, our cultures, and our world. Ranging from social coordination to the role of gut bacteria and visceral organs in mental activity, and touching upon fields such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and plant cognition, Crippen and Schulkin stress the role of aesthetics, emotions, interests, and moods in the ongoing enactment of experience. Synthesizing philosophy, neurobiology, psychology, and the history of science, Mind Ecologies offers a broad and deep exploration of evidence for the embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended nature of mind. (shrink)
Forthcoming in Cognitive Architecture: from bio-politics to noo-politics, eds. Deborah Hauptmann, Warren Neidich and Abdul-Karim Mustapha INTRODUCTION The cognitive and affective sciences have benefitted in the last twenty years from a rethinking of the long-dominant computer model of the mind espoused by the standard approaches of computationalism and connectionism. The development of this alternative, often named the “embodied mind” approach or the “4EA” approach (embodied, embedded, enactive, extended, affective), has relied on a trio of classical 20th century phenomenologists for its (...) philosophical framework: Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty. In this essay I propose that the French thinker Gilles Deleuze can provide the conceptual framework that will enable us to thematize some unstated presuppositions of the 4EA School, as well as to sharpen, extend and / or radicalize some of their explicit presuppositions. I highlight three areas here: 1) an ontology of distributed and differential systems, using Deleuze’s notion of the virtual; 2) a thought of multiple subjectification practices rather than a thought of “the” subject, even if it be seen as embodied and embedded; and 3) a rethinking of the notion of affect in order to thematize a notion of “political affect.” I will develop this proposal with reference to Bruce Wexler’s Brain and Culture, a work which resonates superbly with the Deleuzean approach. (shrink)
One of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, Sir Karl Popper here examines the problems connected with human freedom, creativity, rationality and the relationship between human beings and their actions. In this illuminating series of papers, Popper suggests a theory of mind-body interaction that relates to evolutionary emergence, human language and what he calls "the three worlds." Rene; Descartes first posited the existence of two worlds--the world of physical bodies and the world of mental states. Popper argues (...) for the existence of "world 3" which comprises the products of our human minds. He examines the interaction between mental states--hopes, needs, plans, ideologies or hypotheses--and the physical states of our brain. Popper forcefully argues against the materialism forwarded by many philosophers which denies the existence of mental states. Instead, he demonstrates that the problem of the interaction between mental and physical states remains unresolved. Knowledge and the Body-Mind Problem is based on Popper's never-before published lectures at Emory University in 1969. Popper has extensively revised the lectures but has retained their accessible format. He has also incorporated some of the discussions which followed the lectures, providing an engaging exchange between the philosopher and his audience. (shrink)
I, along with others, have been critical of the social construction of brain death and the various social factors that led to redefining death from cardiopulmonary failure to irreversible loss of brain functioning, or brain death. Yet this does not mean that brain death is not the best threshold to permit organ harvesting—or, as people today prefer to call it, organ procurement. Here I defend whole-brain death as a morally legitimate line that, once crossed, is (...) grounds for families to give permission for organ donation. I do so in five moves. First, I make the case that whole-brain death is a social construction that transformed one thing, coma dépassé, into another thing, brain death, as a result of social pressures. Second, I explore the way that the 1981 President’s Commission tried to establish the epistemological certainty of brain death, hoping to avoid making arcane metaphysical claims and yet still utilizing metaphysical claims about human beings. Third, I explore the moral meaning of the social construction of a definition that cannot offer metaphysical certainty about the point at which somebody becomes just some body. Fourth, I describe how two moral communities—Jewish and Catholic—actually ground their metaphysical positions with regard to brain death in the normativity of prior social relations. Finally, I conclude with a reflection on the aesthetic-moral enterprise of the metaphysical-epistemological apparatus of brain death, concluding that only such an aesthetic-moral approach is sufficiently strong to stave off the utility-maximizing tendencies of late-modern Western cultures. (shrink)
Beyond the Brain: How Body and Environment Shape Animal and Human Minds is an eye-opening and thought- provoking book that sets out a much-needed contribution to the study of the relationship between animals, cognition and the environment. The volume provides remarkable new insights into how to understand animal (including human) behavior, raises interesting questions about the role of environmental affordances in the emergence of complex cognitive processes and provides the reader with a refreshing break from the wearisome excess (...) of brain-centric literature that still pervades much of the debate surrounding evolutionary psychology. In embracing the theoretical framework endorsed by proponents of embodied cognition, Barrett adopts an ecological approach to psychology that aims at challenging any attempt to describe complex thinking and flexible behavior as mere by-products of internal cognitive activity. (shrink)
Discrediting 'mystical' or 'psychical' interpretations of out-of-body and near-death experiences, Michael Marsh demonstrates how these phenomena are explicable in terms of brain neurophysiology and its neuropathological disturbances, and discusses the theological and philosophical implications of his hypotheses.
The brain matters. Says the opening line from Victoria Pitts-Taylor’s The Brain’s Body: Neuroscience and Corporeal Politics. On the face of it, the human brain matters inasmuch as it is the body’s central information processing organ; the CEO that presides over many of our executive bodily functions. But the brain matters beyond the ways in which it has biologically evolved and currently processes information. The brain also matters in social thought, as neuroscientific research (...) has historically informed widespread perceptions of certain bodies and persons at the social and institutional level. Moreover, the brain is embodied, and bodies accrue social and political meanings beyond what they represent at the level... (shrink)
After more than 15 years of study, the 1/f noise or complex-systems approach to cognitive science has delivered promises of progress, colorful verbiage, and statistical analyses of phenomena whose relevance for cognition remains unclear. What the complex-systems approach has arguably failed to deliver are concrete insights about how people perceive, think, decide, and act. Without formal models that implement the proposed abstract concepts, the complex-systems approach to cognitive science runs the danger of becoming a philosophical exercise in futility. The complex-systems (...) approach can be informative and innovative, but only if it is implemented as a formal model that allows concrete prediction, falsification, and comparison against more traditional approaches. (shrink)
A slow revolution in cognitive science is banishing this century's technological conception of mind as disembodied pure thought, namely a material symbol manipulation, and replacing it with next century's conception: mind as the organisation of bodily interaction, intelligent robotics.
The question whether I am the same person at different moments has brought many difficulties for a long time. The problem with identity of things through time was already known in the ancient times especially when Plutarch asked whether a ship of Theseus with exchanged elements is still the same ship as before renovation. Today, we continue these considerations asking, for instance, if things, apart from their physical parts, also have temporal parts. The number of the proposed solutions to the (...) problem of identity and identity of persons at different times resembles wandering in a dark room with a scarf on your eyes. As a result, rather than coming closer to the light switch, we find concepts which suggest that personal identity is not important, or what is important is psychological continuity or identity which is only a matter of degree. So I can be the same person as I was in some part, in some degree. It sounds like a constitution person who likes darkness and does not need light anymore. Unfortunately, first of all, we still use successfully the concept of identity in an ordinary language, and what is more, the abandonment of the notion of personal identity results in a greater number of absurdities, so in consequence, we still do not have an idea how to treat personal identity. (shrink)
The title of Andy Clark's book is, among other things, a reference to one of the central terms in Martin Heidegger's early work: "Dasein" (being there) is the word that Heidegger uses to refer to beings like ourselves. Clark is no Heidegger scholar, but the reference is deliberate; among the predecessors to his book he lists not only Heidegger himself, but also the American Heidegger scholar Hubert Dreyfus and the French Heideggerean phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty. This triumvirate has played an increasingly (...) important role in recent years among the "alternative" cognitive science set, owing largely to the influence of Dreyfus's 1979 book What Computers Can't Do (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1979), which enlisted Heideggerian and Merleau-Pontean arguments in the fight against classical symbolic processing approaches to artificial intelligence. Clark's book fits squarely in this "alternative" tradition, and it is an important contribution to the existing literature. It surveys a large array of results in cognitive scientifically oriented fields ranging from robotics to developmental psychology, and it argues convincingly that these results should encourage us to embrace a radical new research paradigm in the cognitive sciences. The central claim is that mainstream cognitive scientists should, like their more revolutionary colleagues, learn to substitute for "the disembodied, atemporal intellectualist vision of mind ... the image of mind as a controller of embodied action" (p. 7). As a clear and brightly written account of this alternative movement in cognitive science, and perhaps even as a kind of mission statement for the new paradigm, Clark's book is one of the finest I have read. It is limited, however, by the fact that the interesting and well-described empirical work that forms the center of his presentation does not always provide sufficient resources for addressing the equally important philosophical problems lurking. (shrink)
This paper briefly review a current trend in neuroscience aiming to combine neurophysiological and physical concepts in order to understand the emergence of spatio-temporal patterns within brain activity by which brain constructs knowledge from multiple streams of information. The authors further suggest that the meanings, which subjectively are experienced as thoughts or perceptions can best be described objectively as created and carried by large fields of neural activity within the operational architectonics of brain functioning.
Connecting human minds to various technological devices and applications through brain-computer interfaces affords intriguingly novel ways for humans to engage and interact with the world. Not only do BCIs play an important role in restorative medicine, they are also increasingly used outside of medical or therapeutic contexts. A striking peculiarity of BCI technology is that the kind of actions it enables seems to differ from paradigmatic human actions, because, effects in the world are brought about by devices such as (...) robotic arms, prosthesis, or other machines, and their execution runs through a computer directed by brain signals. In contrast to usual forms of action, the sequence does not need to involve bodily or muscle movements at all. A motionless body, the epitome of inaction, might be acting. How do theories of action relate to such BCI-mediated forms of changing the world? We wish to explore this question through the lenses of three perspectives on agency: subjective experience of agency, philosophical action theory, and legal concepts of action. Our analysis pursues three aims: First, we shall discuss whether and which BCI-mediated events qualify as actions, according to the main concepts of action in philosophy and law. Secondly, en passant, we wish to highlight the ten most interesting novelties or peculiarities of BCI-mediated movements. Thirdly, we seek to explore whether these novel forms of movement may have consequences for concepts of agency. More concretely, we think that convincing assessments of BCI-movements require more fine-grained accounts of agency and a distinction between various forms of control during movements. In addition, we show that the disembodied nature of BCI-mediated events causes troubles for the standard legal account of actions as bodily movements. In an exchange with views from philosophy, we wish to propose that the law ought to reform its concept of action to include some, but not all, BCI-mediated events and sketch some of the wider implications this may have, especially for the venerable legal idea of the right to freedom of thought. In this regard, BCIs are an example of the way in which technological access to yet largely sealed-off domains of the person may necessitate adjusting normative boundaries between the personal and the social sphere. (shrink)
In _Neuroscience and Philosophy_ three prominent philosophers and a leading neuroscientist clash over the conceptual presuppositions of cognitive neuroscience. The book begins with an excerpt from Maxwell Bennett and Peter Hacker's _Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience_, which questions the conceptual commitments of cognitive neuroscientists. Their position is then criticized by Daniel Dennett and John Searle, two philosophers who have written extensively on the subject, and Bennett and Hacker in turn respond. Their impassioned debate encompasses a wide range of central themes: the (...) nature of consciousness, the bearer and location of psychological attributes, the intelligibility of so-called brain maps and representations, the notion of qualia, the coherence of the notion of an intentional stance, and the relationships between mind, brain, and body. Clearly argued and thoroughly engaging, the authors present fundamentally different conceptions of philosophical method, cognitive-neuroscientific explanation, and human nature, and their exchange will appeal to anyone interested in the relation of mind to brain, of psychology to neuroscience, of causal to rational explanation, and of consciousness to self-consciousness. In his conclusion Daniel Robinson explains why this confrontation is so crucial to the understanding of neuroscientific research. The project of cognitive neuroscience, he asserts, depends on the incorporation of human nature into the framework of science itself. In Robinson's estimation, Dennett and Searle fail to support this undertaking; Bennett and Hacker suggest that the project itself might be based on a conceptual mistake. Exciting and challenging, _Neuroscience and Philosophy_ is an exceptional introduction to the philosophical problems raised by cognitive neuroscience. (shrink)