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Man has consciousness with almost no brain

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From Olivia Goldhill at Quartz:

Not much is definitively proven about consciousness, the awareness of one’s existence and surroundings, other than that its somehow linked to the brain. But theories as to how, exactly, grey matter generates consciousness are challenged when a fully-conscious man is found to be missing most of his brain.

Several years ago, a 44-year-old Frenchman went to the hospital complaining of mild weakness in his left leg. It was discovered then that his skull was filled largely by fluid, leaving just a thin parameter of actual brain tissue.

And yet the man was a married father of two and a civil servant with an IQ of 75, below-average in his intelligence but not mentally disabled. More.

Zap! Just think of all the materialist theories of consciousness that disappear on impact.

Such brain-largely-absent  cases are more commonly discovered now with the wider use of neuroimaging. Interestingly the person often comes to medical attention for a problem not apparently related to consciousness.

See also: Neuroscience tried wholly embracing naturalism, but then the brain got away

Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?

and

What great physicists have said about consciousness.

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4 Replies to “Man has consciousness with almost no brain

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    The Quartz piece also says

    In theory, the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes in the brain control motion, sensibility, language, vision, audition, and emotional and cognitive functions. But those these regions were all reduced in the Frenchman. He did not, however, suffer significant mental effects suggesting that, if an injury occurs slowly over time, the brain can adapt to survive despite major damage in these regions.

    In the paper where he puts forward his thesis, Cleeremans argues that in order to be aware, it’s necessary not simply to know information, but to know that one knows information. In other words, unlike a thermostat that simply records temperature, conscious humans both know and care that they know. Cleeremans claims that the brain is continually and unconsciously learning to re-describe its own activity to itself, and these descriptions form the basis of conscious experience.
    Ultimately, Cleereman believes that consciousness is “the brain’s theory about itself.” And so, while the Frenchman may have had a tiny brain, it was still apparently able to generate a theory about itself and is “a striking case of how the brain learns to adapt.”

    So Cleeremans still believes in a physical basis for consciousness.

  2. 2
    Robert Byers says:

    It hints again at a soul being the place of thinking. The brain being just a giant memory machine. In this mans case the memory working for different functions was able to compensate.
    This is a rare case but if it was not rare probably it would always be this way.
    You started this BRAIN EQUALS THINKING HUMAN concept? Did anyone challenge them.

  3. 3
    Charles says:

    That article is based on 2011 paper. I skimmed the paper and note that Cleeremans doesn’t address how a brain that is “continually and unconsciously learning to re-describe its own activity to itself” avoids the infinite recursion problem, and also accounts for out of body experiences, multiple personalities, and demonic posssesion/oppression (yes, there are cases documented by board-certified psychiatrists)

  4. 4
    Axel says:

    Below is an article by cardiologist, Pim van Lommel, on an experiment attesting to the reality of mind/body dualism

    http://science-spirituality.bl.....ly-to.html

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