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Neuroscience vs. Philosophy:

Explaining the secrets of the mind

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  • The Debate

    Neuroscience vs. Philosophy

    From the existence of the self to the nature of free will, many philosophers have dedicated their lives to the problems of the mind. But now some neuroscientists claim to have settled these raging debates. Is it possible we have discovered a science to replace philosophy and we can finally make real progress?


    The Panel

    Cognitive scientist Margaret Boden, and philosopher of mind and language Barry C. Smith and neurobiologist Steven Rose put neuroscience on trial.

  • Find out more about speakers

Jump to what you want to see in the debate
  • Margaret Boden
    The Pitch
    Neuroscience has and will make philosophers rethink their positions
  • Steven Rose
    The Pitch
    Neuroscience will never fully replace philosophy
  • Barry C Smith
    The Pitch
    Neuroscience can help philosophers ask the right questions
  • The Debate
    Theme One
    What is the mind?
  • The Debate
    Theme Two
    Can neuroscience make progress?
  • The Debate
    Theme Three
    The future of neuroscience
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Arudac Gupta on 10/02/2016 4:53am


How strikingly your thoughts have reflected those of mine! You have rightly pointed out that the consciousness of man exists in reality outside matter; but of course there is a well-defined interface with a material mechanism called mind of this non-material consciousness. I feel that this consciousness (which may also be called spiritual) is an innate essential characteristic of the first principle known as 'pure person' that is anterior even to the mind. It is the consciousness of this 'pure person' that is manifested through the working of the mind and the body.

I am very happy to find that my thoughts on this topic are so beautifully mirrored by your comments on the same. Thank you!

Dzen_o on 30/09/2015 3:06pm

“…But now some neuroscientists claim to have settled these raging debates…”

- that by no means is correct, the problem of the consciousness cannot be reduced to the problems of the neuroscience. This science studies “purely” material objects – the brain, spinal chord and the system of neurons, which are constituted and interact between each other by using purely material physical and chemical forces and processes.

Though here the word “purely” above is in quotes, because of [at least] the brain interacts also, by using some other forces, with non-material consciousness. Nonetheless these forces are unknown in physics and so cannot be analyzed by using purely material instruments that are applied by the neuroscientists.

The consciousness (human’s and rudimentary analogues – of other living beings) is non-material and exists outside Matter, though uses the brain as some stable house; at that seems as rather probable the consciousness mainly operates outside Matter. And, besides, it seems also probable that the informational system “consciousness” is built till now as some analogue of standard computer, where active units - “processor” and “RAM” (the short -term memory in the psychology) work outside Matter using the brain as some “hard disk”.

-Etc., more see the Dzen_o post in an other discussion (“Matter and Mind”) in the ITV (

and the URL links in this discussion.


Daniele Roganti on 29/07/2014 1:53pm

I can't consider consciousness as a mere "measure" of the mind. It is the very "fact" of the mind, which allows you to have and express this opinion right now.

Sure, the so called "unconscious level" is very important, but so.. would you like to be fully and truly conscious (!) of the powers of the mind?

Creos Lam on 29/07/2014 1:37pm

Daniele, my point was exactly that we should shift away from consciousness as a measure of the mind. There is so much going on, on what we've called, the unconscious level, that it seems that the definition of 'mind' as purely the capacity for 'consciousness' seems dated. The mind is so much more powerful than simple consciousness.

Daniele Roganti on 28/07/2014 6:35pm

I disagree, because if with consciousness we mean "first person experience", then all the neuropsychological experiments can provide us only informations about others, not our experience.

If we really are interested in the investivation of first person experience, then we should start from individual, first person investigation. Otherwise we will find very interesting data, but about others' mind, not about consciousness in its "real" meaning.

Creos Lam on 24/07/2014 2:24pm

I agree with Barry that the role of consciousness has been dethroned from the central role it used to occupy in the study of our mind, and rightly so. There have been powerful experiments to show just how active our 'unconscious' mind can be. It does follow that neuroscience will play a bigger and bigger role in understanding our mind and our humanity more generally.

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