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Can Traditional Philosophy Help Us Understand Mind vs. Brain?

Michael Egnor asks us to look back to the traditional idea that the soul is the “form” of the body

Yesterday, we published the fourth portion of the debate between materialist philosopher David Papineau and neurosurgeon Michael Egnor, where the key issue was “Is the mind simply what the brain does?” Today, we look at the portion which starts roughly at 36 min where Papineau and Egnor start to talk about traditional philosophical ways of thinking about the soul and the body (partial transcript): Note: Dr. Papineau is a “physicalist.” On that view, “the mind is a purely physical construct, and will eventually be explained entirely by physical theory, as it continues to evolve.” (Philosophy basics) He is considered to be one of the best defenders of naturalism (nature is all there is), often called “materialism.” Michael Egnor: In the…

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Quantum Wave

Bingecast: Enrique Blair on Quantum Computing

What is quantum mechanics? What can quantum computers do that classical computers can’t? Has Google achieved quantum supremacy? Robert J. Marks discusses the weird world of quantum mechanics with Dr. Enrique Blair. Show Notes 00:54 | Introducing Dr. Enrique Blair, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Baylor University 03:08 | The history of quantum mechanics 13:16 | Quantum…

Fantasy concept of a black cute cat on the background of the beautiful starry sky of the night
Cat in front of starry sky

Shocked by Schrödinger’s Cat

What is quantum mechanics? Well, weird. Very weird. The great quantum mechanics pioneer Niels Bohr said: “If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.” How did the study of quantum mechanics come to be? Robert J. Marks discusses quantum mechanics with Dr. Enrique Blair. Show Notes 00:41 | Introducing Dr. Enrique Blair, a professor of electrical…

Unlocking latest smartphone with biometric facial identification scan

Yes, your brain is a machine—if you choose to see it that way

As a Nobel Prize physicist pointed out, our method of study determines what we learn

Anil Seth, a Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex, gave a TED talk recently (linked below) in which he asserted that “the combined activity of many billions of neurons—each one a tiny biological machine—is generating our conscious experience…” So, is your brain really a biological “machine”? Or is that just an analogy, like saying that a restaurant kitchen is a “hive” of activity? If so, how good is the analogy? Why do we select the analogy of a “machine” rather than a different one? It’s an important question, as we will see, because the questions we ask of nature constrain the answers we obtain. A machine is an artifact. It is a human-built assembly of…

Conceptual image of a large stone in the shape of the human brain
The young and conceptual image of a large stone in the shape of the human brain

The Brain Is Not a “Meat Computer”

Dramatic recoveries from brain injury highlight the difference

The brain looks like a computer only if we analyze it as if it were a computer. Our analysis does not mean that it is a computer, and it does not mean that computation explains the mind or even that computational approaches to neuroscience provide genuinely meaningful insight into neurophysiology.

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