What the Neocortex Does

Ray Scanlon rscanlon at wsg.net
Mon Aug 21 19:19:12 EST 2000

"Harry Erwin" <herwin at gmu.edu> wrote in message
news:1efnu47.vnsrvi1415094N%herwin at gmu.edu...
> Ray Scanlon <rscanlon at wsg.net> wrote:
> > "Harry Erwin" <herwin at gmu.edu> wrote in message
> > news:1efk4vs.1p3o5v2f8rvu0N%herwin at gmu.edu...
> > > Side comment: I would estimate the percentage of neuroscientists and
> > > cognitive scientists who are concerned with the soul at less than 1%.
> > > Why? Because there's good experimental evidence (from studies of
> > > who have had lesions due to stroke and other causes) that the soul
> > > not exist in any sense meaningful to a religious person. The
> > > concerns are with the mind and brain.
> >
> > You are confused by the endless struggle to show that "mind" and "soul"
> > not synonymous. Once it is clear that they are synonyms, everything
> > into place. Few neuroscientists (other than the seekers of the NCC) are
> > interested in the soul (mind). This is one of the things that they agree
> > "put to one side" while they study the brain. On the other hand, the
> > cognitive scientists are interested in little else.
> >
> But the mind is not a synonym of the religious believer's 'soul'.

> Why deny the obvious?

> Neuroscientists are almost always monists, believing in mind/brain
> unity; I know of very few dualists. If you study brain lesions, you
> discover that the various aspects of the mind seem to be associated with
> the integrity of specific brain regions, and you see no evidence that
> there is an intact soul trying to work past the damage to the brain.
> John Eccles--the best example of a dualist I know of--believed in a
> separable soul and he was searching for a mechanism for it to couple to
> the brain. He was unsuccessful. There is no scientific evidence for a
> separable soul.

To John Eccles, I think you could add Wilder Penfield as one of those who
tried and (I say) failed.

First you refer to "various aspects of the mind" and then to "an intact
soul". If, in both cases, you referred to the soul (mind) things would be
much clearer. However, the second claim is clouded by empirical results. I
seem to remember Wilder Penfield referring to a case where the patient
consciously and knowingly substituted "moth" for "butterfly" when Penfield
prevented him from saying "butterfly" by applying an electronic probe to his
cortex. Some (not me) would say this was a case of a soul (mind) trying to
work past an insult to the brain. I would say it was the thalamic reticular
nucleus relaxing (under pressure) and allowing "moth" through after
"butterfly" had failed. Very, very interesting in any case.


Those interested in the brain might look at

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