In the debate, Egnor begins by offering three fundamental reasons why the mind is not the brain:
Michael Egnor: Just as a little background about where I’m coming from, I was raised as a functional atheist, and I was educated as a scientific atheist, so I was an atheist for most of my life. I was a biochemistry major in college, and I had and still have tremendous confidence in science and fascination with science. I had a conversion to Christianity, to Catholicism, when I was 45. There are a lot of reasons for it. I had a Damascus Road experience, you might say, but also, there were a lot of intellectual reasons as well.
I had felt through much of my career that physics, biochemistry, biology, and particularly neuroscience, just didn’t make a lot of sense in a materialist paradigm.
Note: Egnor had reason. He kept seeing patients who had largely missing brains or had brains split in half (for medical reasons, to treat otherwise intractable epilepsy) who lived normal lives. Whatever the mind is, it did not appear to be wholly dependent on the brain.
Michael Egnor: And particularly neuroscience kind of broke me away from my materialist perspective. When I was a first-year medical student, I was absolutely fascinated by neuroscience and neuroanatomy. I … was thrilled at the prospect of being able to understand my mind and the minds of people around me by learning about the neuroscience of the brain.News, “Neurosurgeon Egnor takes on philosopher Papineau Round 1” at Mind Matters News
Takehome: Neuroscience caused Egnor to honestly doubt Papineau’s materialist perspective that the mind is simply what the brain does.
Next: Physicalist philosopher David Papineau replies. Stay tuned.
You may also wish to read: 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.