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Michael Egnor: Pioneer neuroscientists believed the mind is more than the brain

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A number of them were Nobel Laureates and their views were informed by their work

In a podcast discussion with Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor talks about how many famous neuroscientist became dualists—that is, they concluded that there is something about human beings that goes beyond matter—based on observations they made during their work. For example:

[Charles Scott] Sherrington (right), who was really the original pioneer of neuroscience, worked back near the beginning of the twentieth century was a dualist, as was Dr. Penfield, whom I will talk about momentarily.

Note: Charles Scott Sherrington (1857–1952) won the Nobel Prize, along with Edgar Adrian, for Physiology or Medicine in 1932. “His investigations of nearly every aspect of mammalian nervous function directly influenced the development of brain surgery and the treatment of such nervous disorders as paralysis and atrophy. Sherrington coined the term synapse to denote the point at which the nervous impulse is transmitted from one nerve cell to another.” – Britannica

If it is mind that we are searching the brain, then we are supposing the brain to be much more than a telephone-exchange. We are supposing it to be a telephone-exchange along with subscribers as well.”


Here are some of Michael Egnor’s thoughts on theories of consciousness:

Tam Hunt offers some ideas at Scientific American but his dismissal of objectivity is cause for concern. There is a better way. Hunt is right that the scientific study of consciousness using merely third-person objective data is flawed—it is the idiotic flaw of behaviorism—but the notion that “objective” data needs scare quotes opens the door to a deconstruction of our knowledge of the natural world that is every bit as idiotic and dangerous as the crude materialist objectification of consciousness.

Why eliminative materialism cannot be a good theory of the mind. Thinking that the mind is simply the brain, no more and no less, involves a hopeless contradiction. How can you have a proposition that the mind doesn’t exist? That means propositions don’t exist and that means, in turn, that you don’t have a proposition.

Why the mind cannot just emerge from the brain. The mind cannot emerge from the brain if the two have no qualities in common. In his continuing discussion with Robert J. Marks, Michael Egnor argues that emergence of the mind from the brain is not possible because no properties of the mind have any overlap with the properties of brain. Thought and matter are not similar in any way. Matter has extension in space and mass; thoughts have no extension in space and no mass.


The mind’s reality is consistent with neuroscience. A neglected “dualist” theory offers some insights. Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor thinks that the explanation of the relationship of the mind to the brain that best fits today’s neuroscience is that certain powers, particularly the intellect and will, are not generated by matter but are immaterial. However, other properties of the mind, like perception, memory and imagination are physical, generated by brain matter.

@4 Kairosfocus:
Groov, the mind-body integration issue is pivotal to restructuring our civilisation’s warped views.
Yes, and materialism has nothing to offer. Materialism is irrelevant because it is an iddology at odds with reality. And reality always wins. Truthfreedom
Groov, the mind-body integration issue is pivotal to restructuring our civilisation's warped views. On one hand, we must be reasonable and responsibly significantly free if argument, warrant and knowledge are credible. That points beyond what GIGO-limited computational substrates can do, such are inherently not rational or free, they are dynamic-stochastic systems. On the other, how does the extra dimensional interface and interact in a body, achieve self-moved, consciously aware agency and more. These point to the roots of reality and to rethinking the dominant evolutionary materialistic scientism. KF PS: The transforms came up in the course of studies in electronics and related areas including telecommunications and instrumentation and control. They are also present in economics and related areas, indeed, once we see the importance of differential and [more or less equivalent, not quite dual] difference equations, such issues are pervasive. kairosfocus
That thoughts have no extension in space makes sense, but some care required with definition of terms as the study of the mind as independent of space and time is core to transpersonal psychology. This would entail clairvoyance and remote viewing, including the phenomenon (there is actually a name for it that escapes me right now) that happens sometimes with NDE's where a person can see and hear the events in a hospital room. There was even the case where a person during an NDE viewed a shoe on the roof of the hospital, and the shoe was found. BTW wanted to ask KF about his background; seems to have some detailed knowledge of integral transforms and I'm wondering what kind of schooling in this if you are reading this post. groovamos
Those early neurologists were focusing on electricity, not chemistry. Not surprising that they found it easier to think of waves and signals. The wave approach was trashcanned around 1900 by the pill-pushers, and didn't return to respectability until 1980. polistra
Information seems then to serve as bridge kairosfocus

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