09 October 2009

Philosophy Now | Reflections On Epilepsy

Raymond Tallis applies his mind to his mind.

My experience with neurological patients has underlined what ordinary life tells us: that a brain in some working order is a necessary condition for human consciousness. Unlike mind-brain identity theorists, however, I do not believe that consciousness is identical with neural activity in the cerebral cortex, the brain stem, the thalamus or wherever. This does not mean that I think I have an immaterial soul; nor do I subscribe to a ‘ghost-in-the-machine’ Cartesian dualism. Rather, I am a non-Cartesian atheist who just can’t help noticing that however hard you look, you will not find sensations, affections and reasons in bits of the brain, or even distributed throughout the brain. So although a functioning brain is necessary for every aspect of consciousness, from the simplest twinge of sensation to the most exquisitely constructed sense of self, it is not sufficient for consciousness – and certainly not for the kind of consciousness you and I enjoy.

Philosophy Now | Reflections On Epilepsy

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