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Larson&Ruse Chapter 3--The Brain, The Mind, and the Soul

Posted By Randall D. Isaac, Friday, November 24, 2017

The philosopher picks up the pen again and sets out a survey of the mind-body issue in the history and philosophy of science. He covers the mind of Plato, the Cartesian mind, the mind of Darwinism, computers and the brain, and the “new mysterianism.”


“…this is a problem without a solution, or at least without a solution open to human intelligence….In respects, because of advances in science, especially advances in the physical sciences teaching that some questions simply cannot be asked because there are no possible answers available, this is perhaps a more attractive option in recent years than it was back at the time of Descartes….Perhaps the body-mind problem is like this. It goes almost without saying that this position –known today as "new mysterianism" - has its attractions for theists…Today, elements of such thinking can be found far and wide, including in the writings of that runaway favorite of the modern-day evangelical Christians, C. S. Lewis.”(p. 96-97)


“Some have suggested that invoking a hardware—software distinction avoids this problem. The brain is the hardware; the mind is the software. But the analogy doesn’t really work. A computer program and the stored files aren’t really conscious.”(p. 99)


“One thing that modern physics has taught is that the idea that the world is made up of inert chunks of basic substance, matter, is simply not true. Whatever may be the case down at the quantum level, there certainly are not simply minichunks of rock there. Matter is energized-dare one even say "alive" -in a way not dreamed of even in the nineteenth century. This certainly doesn't prove dualism; but it does mean that mind and matter may not be quite as far apart as they might have seemed to Descartes.”(p. 100)


In essence Ruse says that we have not made much progress since Plato except that we know vastly more than Plato about consciousness and how it is connected to the brain. But the hard problem of consciousness has not been solved.

Tags:  Larson  Mind  On Faith and Science  Ruse 

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