Present discussions in philosophy of mind focus on ontological and epistemic characteristics of mind and on mind-brain relations. In contrast, ontological and epistemic characteristics of the brain have rarely been thematized. Rather, philosophy seems to rely upon an implicit definition of the brain as "neuronal object" and "object of recognition": hence ontologically and epistemically distinct from the mind, characterized as "mental subject" and "subject of recognition". This leads to the "brain-paradox". This ontological and epistemic dissociation between brain and mind can be considered central for the problems of mind and mind-brain relations that have yet to be resolved in philosophy. The brain itself has not been thematized epistemically and ontologically, leading to a "brain problem". The epistemic and ontological dissociation between brain and mind presupposes an "isolated" picture of the brain, characterized by context-independence (i.e. "isolation" from body and environment). We can describe this view as an extrinsic relationship between brain, body and environment. However, based on recent empirical findings about body image and phantom sensations, we can no longer consider the brain as context-independent or "isolated" from its bodily and environmental context. Instead, the brain must be considered "embedded". Within the context of 'embeddment', brain and bodily/environmental context seem mutually to determine each other, and hence be reciprocally dependent on each other. We can describe this as an intrinsic relationship between brain, body and environment. Defining the brain as "embedded" undermines the epistemic and ontological dissociation between brain and mind and consequently resolves the "brain-paradox". This resolution sheds novel light on problems of mind and mind-brain relations by relativizing both. It is therefore concluded that philosophy should thematize ontological and epistemic characteristics of the brain, thereby taking into account the "brain problem" and developing a "philosophy of the brain". This approach not only opens a new field in philosophy but also extends the focus of empirical investigation in the neurosciences to take into account the intrinsic relationship between brain, body and environment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- 神經科學 (全部)