Philosophical Society of Washington

On What the Mind is Identical With

Teed Rockwell

2020th Meeting Abstract
Friday, December 17, 1993 at 8:15 PM


The unity of mind and body need not imply accepting the unity of mind and brain, because the mind-brain identity is something that science has presupposed, not discovered. I cite evidence from modern neuroscience that cognitive activities are distributed throughout the human nervous system, which challenges the "scientific" assumption (believed by Descartes, among others) that the brain is the seat of the soul, and the rest of the nerves are mere message cables to the brain. Dennett comes close to accepting this point when he criticizes "Cartesian Materialism," yet he still claims that "the head is headquarters." Accepting that the mind is the entire nervous system solves some philosophical problems, for Dennett and others. There is also some evidence to indicate that some cognitive activities may be hormonal rather than neural, which raises some challenging problems for the once-obvious distinction between causing a mental state and embodying that state.

About the Author:

Teed Rockwell is a musician by profession, performing with the world folk chamber trio GEIST, whose recordings of original music have received extensive national distribution, as well as radio and television airplay. He studied Philosophy of Science with Wilfred Sellars and has a Master's Degree in Philosophy from Duquesne University, with additional post-graduate work in philosophy at the University of Texas This talk is based on a paper to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Philosophical Psychology. His talk to the Society last year led to a paper to be published in Behavior and Philosophy.

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