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Neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield (1871-1976) on when to give up naturalism (nature is all there is)


Wilder Penfield revolutionized the study of the human brain Wilder Penfield was a pioneering neurosurgeon in Montreal. A friend writes to draw our attention to his approach to the mind, in The Mystery of the Mind:

“The challenge that comes to every neurophysiologist is to explain in terms of brain mechanisms all that men have come to consider the work of the mind, if he can. And this he must undertake freely, without philosophical or religious bias. If he does not succeed in his explanation, using proven facts and reasonable hypotheses, the time should come, as it has to me, to consider other possible explanations. He must consider how the evidence can be made to fit the hypothesis of two elements as well as that of one only.” – Wilder Penfield, The Mystery of the Mind, (Princeton, 1975) p. 73. More.

Things never worked the way materialists, naturalists, etc., said. Their theories about the mind are ridiculous. To learn anything, we would need to get past them.

Penfield: The pioneering clinician and researcher was celebrated nationally and internationally for what the Globe and Mail called his “almost miraculous” achievements, but to his patients and fellow health professionals, he was also known for his deep integrity and humanity.

His acquaintance with legendary physician and former McGill professor, Sir William Osler, may have played a role in cultivating Penfield’s holistic view. The neurosurgeon was fascinated not just by the physical workings of the brain, but how they influenced the mind and the personality. “The problem of neurology,” he wrote in 1965, “is to understand man himself.”

Notable quotes: Although the content of consciousness depends in large measure on neuronal activity, awareness itself does not. To me, it seems more and more reasonable to suggest that the mind may be a distinct and different essence.

From Michael Egnor at Evolution News & Views:

Penfield began his career as a materialist, convinced that the mind was wholly a product of the brain. He finished his career as an emphatic dualism.

During surgery, Penfield observed that patients had a variable but limited response to brain stimulation. Sometimes the stimulation would cause a seizure or evoke a sensation, a perception, movement of muscles, a memory, or even a vivid emotion. Yet Penfield noticed that brain stimulation never evoked abstract thought. He wrote …

See also: Dead Horse Dennett kicks Darwin’s nag again.


Neurosurgeon defends dualism

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There are more realities in heaven and earth, materialist, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. harry

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