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TagMichael Egnor

Human Thinking

What Is the Difference Between “Soul” and “Spirit”?

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor explains the subtle distinction between the meaning of the two, often confused, terms

Loosely speaking, the soul is the principle of life in a body and the spirit refers more to the immaterial aspects of the soul, which are the ability to reason and the ability to make decisions based on reason.

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The Mind’s Reality Is Consistent with Neuroscience

A neglected “dualist” theory offers some insights

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor thinks that the explanation of the relationship of the mind to the brain that best fits today’s neuroscience is that certain powers, particularly the intellect and will, are not generated by matter but are immaterial. However, other properties of the mind, like perception, memory and imagination are physical, generated by brain matter.

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Glowing human brain with nerve cells. 3d illustration

Michael Egnor: Is There Evidence for a Soul?

From the perspective of a brain surgeon, is there evidence for a soul? Is there evidence for a spirit? Robert J. Marks discusses neuroscience, brain surgery, the soul, and the spirit with Dr. Michael Egnor. Show Notes 00:46 | Introducing Dr. Michael Egnor, Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook 01:18 | Non-overlapping magisteria Read More ›

AI(Artificial Intelligence) concept.

Why Eliminative Materialism Cannot Be a Good Theory of the Mind

Thinking that the mind is simply the brain, no more and no less, involves a hopeless contradiction

How can you have a proposition that the mind doesn’t exist? That means propositions don’t exist and that means, in turn, that you don’t have a proposition.

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Michael Egnor: Is Your Brain the Same as Your Mind?

Is the mind an emergent property of the brain? Or is there something else going on? Robert J. Marks discusses the different theories of the mind — including materialism, panpsychism, and dualism — with Dr. Michael Egnor. Show Notes 00:37 | Introducing Dr. Michael Egnor, Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook 01:32 | Read More ›

Connected neurons or nerve cells- 3d illustration

Why Would Philosophers Deny That Consciousness Is Real?

Because, says computer scientist Bernardo Kastrup, the materialism they are committed to makes no sense and that’s the best they can do

A Dutch computer scientist and philosopher who has reflected deeply on the mind–matter problem finds himself asking, how can serious scientists or philosophers convince themselves that their own consciousness “doesn’t exist” or is a “mistaken construct”? What, exactly, is thinking the thought that their consciousness doesn’t exist? I want to understand what makes the consciousness of an intelligent human being deny its own existence with a straight face. For I find this denial extremely puzzling for both philosophical and psychological reasons. Don’t get me wrong, the motivation behind the denial is obvious enough: it is to tackle a vexing problem by magically wishing it out of existence. As a matter of fact, the ‘whoa-factor’ of this magic gets eliminativists and Read More ›

Zen garden stones on sand with pattern, top view. Meditation and harmony

Yes, Consciousness Is Real But That’s Not the Half of It

Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci ends up skating deftly around the main problems

Those who would understand immaterial realities like consciousness should not speak so disrespectfully of dualism as Dr. Pigliucci does.

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Concept of brain surgery or neurosurgery. Neurosurgeon holding scalpel in hand over 3D anatomical model of human brain. Brain surgery operations for treatment of diseases - tumor, aneurysm, epilepsy
Scalpel on model of brain

Some People Think and Speak with Only Half a Brain

A new study sheds light on how they do it

A range of neuroscience research findings is more readily explained by assuming that some aspects of thought–– abstract intellectual thought and free will–– are immaterial.

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Neuroscientist Says Our Souls Are Not Machines

A reviewer notes that Sharon Dirckx makes her case in a way that is easy for the attentive non-specialist reader to understand.

If readers are looking for a book by a writer familiar with the science who does not just adopt the materialist view and then spend two hundred and fifty pages supporting it, Am I Just My Brain? might be a good choice.

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Dolphin portrait while looking at you with open mouth

What Do Animal Studies Tell Us About Human Minds?

They show that human experience is unique

Many people assume that human consciousness arose accidentally many eons ago from animal consciousness and that therefore we can find glimmers of the same sort of consciousness in the minds of animals. But that approach isn’t producing the expected results.

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Blue watercolor triangle

A simple triangle can disprove materialism

Conventional descriptions of material processes do not help much when we are trying to account for abstract thought
Philosopher Edward Feser notes that there is a kind of mismatch between concepts and ideas on the one hand, which are abstract and completely general, and on the other hand, physical symbols and other material representations, which are always concrete, specific, and individual. Read More ›
human identification

If the mind is immaterial, is human cloning impossible?

I agree with Mike Egnor that the mind is immaterial but I don’t think human cloning is impossible

There are, of course, empirical implications of both the materialist and non-materialist understanding of the human mind. But the success of human cloning won’t weigh on the question one way or the other.

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super brain

Are Lab-Grown Human Brains the Next Big Thing?

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor thinks the hopes for humanly conscious lab-grown brains are faint indeed

“Neural tissue grown in a lab cannot have intentionality unless it has sense organs,” Egnor says, “But such manufactured intentionality can only be about concrete things, not abstract things.”

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Four Researchers Whose Work Sheds Light on the Reality of the Mind

The brain can be cut in half, but the intellect and will cannot, says Michael Egnor. The intellect and will are metaphysically simple

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor was featured in a short film as a supplement to the Science Uprising series. There, he mentions four researchers who have shed light on the non-material mind nature of our minds: Wilder Penfield (1891–1976): Some of the earliest evidence came from neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield, who was the pioneer in epilepsy surgery in the mid 20th century. Penfield operated on over a thousand epilepsy patients while they were awake (under local anesthesia), and he stimulated their brains with electrodes in order to identify epileptic regions for surgical resection. He carefully recorded their responses to stimulation. In his book Mystery of the Mind, (1975) Penfield noted: “When I have caused a conscious patient to move his hand by applying Read More ›

Artificial intelligence electronic circuit. Microchip with glowing brain. 3D rendered illustration.

Science Uprising: Stop Ignoring Evidence for the Existence of the Human Mind!

Materialism enables irrational ideas about ourselves to compete with rational ones on an equal basis. It won’t work
If materialism were true, we would probably already have found the consciousness gene and the wobbly free will knob in the brain. Instead, we are left with the infamously Hard Problem of Consciousness and bizarre materialist attempts to make it Go Away. Read More ›
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Philosopher Argues, Human Reason Is Inferior to Animal Reactions

Smith offers to resolve the problem of human exceptionality by dethroning reason

He hopes that artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial life (a “statistical near-certainty”) will help us “give up the idea of rationality as nature’s last remaining exception.”

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Hoodie with smoke in front of face

Has Science Shown That Consciousness Is Only an Illusion?

Using clever analogies, Philosopher Daniel Dennett argues that consciousness is all smoke and mirrors
British philosopher Papineau recommends taking Dennett’s theories “with a pinch of salt.” American essayist David Bentley Hart is less charitable: “Daniel Dennett’s latest book marks five decades of majestic failure to explain consciousness” Read More ›
Brain activity

Knowledge is power, sort of…

If that’s ALL knowledge is, the resulting science is bound to be limited, says Michael Egnor
If you are trying to predict the course of a cannonball, Newtonian mechanics are adequate. If you are trying to understand the mind of the guy who fired the cannon, you need to look much deeper. Read More ›
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Inner peace: Is there software for that?

Tech billionaire funds neuroscience in a search for the secret of contentment
His approach to neuroscience is very different from that of the Dalai Lama, who facilitates neuroscience research to better understand contemplation as a path to inner peace. Chen’s focus is more on developing virtual reality. Read More ›
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Can free will even be an illusion?

Michael Egnor reiterates the freeing implications of quantum indeterminacy

Many say so. For example, at Cosmos, senior artificial intelligence research scientist Alfredo Metere explains, … there is a causal relationship between the Big Bang and us. In other words, free will is not allowed, and all of our actions are just a mere consequence of that first event. Such a view is known as “determinism”, or “super-determinism” (if one finds it productive to reinvent the wheel). He asserts that today we know the universe to be chaotic. Because the cosmos is clearly chaotic, we can observe time-reversibility only locally, rather than globally. This in turn means that free will is an inevitable illusion for us humans, due to our subjective perception of the universe, rather than its innermost nature. Read More ›