Biology of Consciousness: Bridging the Mind-Body Gap?

October 30, 2014 2:02 PM

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Biology of Consciousness: Bridging the Mind-Body Gap?

The mind-body problem was first raised, rather circuitously, as a non-problem by Aristotle more than 2,000 years ago. He postulated that, "It is not necessary to ask whether soul and body are one, just as it is not necessary to ask whether the wax and its shape are one." Plato disagreed, as he thought that souls could transmigrate during reincarnation. But a more radical opponent to Aristotle's theory arose about two millenniums later in the person of René Descartes. He tried to rip Aristotle's theory apart. His philosophy introduced the notion of dualism, opposing "the surrounding spirits" that directed thoughts to the mechanism of the human body. Can today's advances in neurobiology help us make a decision on the matter?

A quick scroll through the names of biology laboratories worldwide -- from Connecticut to London, to Sataima, Japan -- might throw up names like "Molecular Psychiatry" or "Receptors and Cognition" suggesting they have begun to bridge the mind-body gap, long the preserve of philosophers. "What langua...

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