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At Mind Matters News: Can traditional philosophy help us understand mind vs. brain?


Michael Egnor asks us to look back to the traditional idea that the soul is the “form” of the body.

Michael Egnor: In the Thomistic view, the soul is the “form” of the body. It is different from other forms, in that it can contain forms but not become the thing it contains, and Aristotle actually said the soul is, in a way, all things. So the way that intentionality works, in Thomistic dualism, is that the soul grasps the form of the [00:36:30] object of your thought, and that form of the object of your thought is incorporated in the form that is the soul, so the soul can have forms of other things in it without becoming that thing.

“Note: The soul as a “form” can be seen as the difference between a live body and a dead one. A body before and after death may be almost identical — except for that one critical fact. In traditional philosophy, some parts of the soul are considered material (emotions) and others are considered immaterial (reasoning and moral choice).

“About “intentionality”: you can, of course, imagine many things without becoming any of them. You could write an epic without becoming one of the characters.”

David Papineau: It does sound to me like just explaining one mystery in terms of another. If you tell me that I have a soul, and the form of the city Lima is part of my soul, and that’s how I can refer to the city Lima that just needs to be explained …

Note: There was considerable crosstalk at this point…

News, “Can traditional philosophy help us understand mind vs. brain” at Mind Matters News

In the Western world, the traditional view of the soul originated with Greek philosophers, chiefly Aristotle and Plato.

You may also wish to read the earlier portions of the debate:

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor takes on philosopher David Papineau Round 1. In the debate, Egnor begins by offering three fundamental reasons why the mind is not the brain. Neuroscience caused Egnor to honestly doubt Papineau’s materialist perspective that the mind is simply what the brain does.

Round 2: Philosopher Papineau replies to neurosurgeon Egnor. Dr. Papineau is considered to be one of the best defenders of naturalism (nature is all there is), often called “materialism.” Papineau: Mental processes, including conscious processes, are one in the same as physical processes. I’m curious about how Michael Egnor would answer it.

Round 3: Egnor vs Papineau: The Big Bang has no natural beginning. In the debate between theistic neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and naturalist philosopher David Papineau, the question gets round to the origin of the universe itself. Egnor maintains that the Big Bang, which is held to have created the universe, is an effect with no physical cause. Papineau agrees.
Round 4: Egnor vs. Papineau Egnor defends the mind vs. the brain

Round 4: Philosopher David Papineau does not feel that neurosurgeon Michael Egnor is being “entirely helpful” at this point… It became quite the dustup actually. Egnor deals with the brain as an organ, not a theory, and doesn’t see it as equivalent to the mind. Papineau differs.

Also: Philosopher: Consciousness Is Not a Problem. Dualism Is! He says that consciousness is just “brain processes that feel like something” Physicalist David Papineau argues that consciousness “seems mysterious not because of any hidden essence, but only because we think about it in a special way.” In short, it’s all in our heads. But wait, say others, the hard problem of consciousness is not so easily dismissed.

Is Egnor channeling my IRT perspective? Sounds like it. There is an incredible amount of physical, scientific and experiential evidence that clearly demonstrates the mind's independence of the brain, just like a TV signal is independent of the TV. We know the mind is non-local and survives death. By "we," I mean people that have actually taken the time to find and read the evidence. William J Murray

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