Summary of Brain-Wise

Studies in Neurophilosophy

MIT Press, more...

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Brain-Wise
Neuroscience meets philosophy on controversial proving grounds: free will, the existence of God, and who are you, anyway?

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Review

This masterly book summarizes a prodigious amount of research about the workings of the brain. Author Patricia Smith Churchland introduces the basics of neuroscience to the realm of philosophy. She says that present scientific knowledge about the brain makes it implausible that there is any such thing as an immaterial mind or soul. A committed materialist (although she does not make the case for materialism), she puts a mass of incomplete scientific evidence before you and says that more scientific evidence will emerge over the next decade or so to complete the picture and solidify the case. She does not do justice to contrary views, which she introduces as straw men, easily knocked down. That said, getAbstract finds that Churchland provides a valuable, highly readable discussion of the challenges neuroscience presents to philosophy. She makes it clear that any philosophy of consciousness must be informed by knowledge of the brain.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the brain works, in summary
  • What science says about causation
  • How the workings of the brain explain the workings of the mind without recourse to any immaterial mind or soul
 

Summary

The Mind and Brain
Scientifically, the brain seems perfectly capable of doing everything people used to think that the mind accomplished. Current neuroscience says that everything about you, even your most complex, characteristic and idiosyncratic personality traits, is a function of neuro...
Get the key points from this book in less than 10 minutes.

About the Author

Patricia Smith Churchland is chair of the philosophy department and a professor of philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, and an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute. She is the author of Neurophilosophy: Towards a Unified Understanding of the Mind-Brain, and co-author of On the Contrary and The Computational Brain.


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