Neither Brain Nor Ghost: A Nondualist Alternative to the Mind-brain Identity Theory

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MIT Press, 2005 - Philosophy - 231 pages
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In this highly original work, Teed Rockwell rejects both dualism and the mind-brainidentity theory. He proposes instead that mental phenomena emerge not merely from brain activity butfrom an interacting nexus of brain, body, and world. The mind can be seen not as an organ within thebody, but as a "behavioral field" that fluctuates within this brain-body-world nexus. If we rejectthe dominant form of the mind-brain identity theory -- which Rockwell calls "Cartesian materialism"(distinct from Daniel Dennett's concept of the same name) -- and accept this new alternative, thenmany philosophical and scientific problems can be solved. Other philosophers have flirted with theseideas, including Dewey, Heidegger, Putnam, Millikan, and Dennett. But Rockwell goes further thanthese tentative speculations and offers a detailed alternative to the dominant philosophical view,applying pragmatist insights to contemporary scientific and philosophicalproblems.

Rockwell shows that neuroscience no longer supports the mind-brainidentity theory because the brain cannot be isolated from the rest of the nervous system; moreover,there is evidence that the mind is hormonal as well as neural. These data, and Rockwell's reanalysisof the concept of causality, show why the borders of mental embodiment cannot be neatly drawn at theskull, or even at the skin. Rockwell then demonstrates how his proposed view of the mind can resolveparadoxes engendered by the mind-brain identity theory in such fields as neuroscience, artificialintelligence, epistemology, and philosophy of language. Finally, he argues that understanding themind as a "behavioral field" supports the new cognitive science paradigm of dynamic systems theory(DST).

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Review: Neither Brain Nor Ghost: A Nondualist Alternative to the Mind-Brain Identity Theory

User Review  - Steen Christiansen - Goodreads

Interesting and important book on mind and embodiment which articulates significant criticisms against neurobiology's emphasis on the brain. Read full review

Review: Neither Brain Nor Ghost: A Nondualist Alternative to the Mind-Brain Identity Theory

User Review  - Aaron Brown - Goodreads

'We' all know Cartesianism is dead in its classical form - there is no soul distinct from the body. Yet modern science and philosophy of mind inherit much of the baggage that fell out of the Frenchman ... Read full review


Minds Brains and Behavior
Beyond the Cranium
Beyond the Neuronal Mind

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About the author (2005)

W. Teed Rockwell is in the philosophy department at Sonoma State University.

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