Should philosophy today keep trying to answer the questions for which the neurosciences have better explanations?
Neurophilosophers believe that to understand the mind we must understand the brain using evidence from neuroscience. Many philosophers and intelectuals strongly disagree with this proposal since it uses science and not introspection as a method to acquire knowledge, and this evidently weakens their position as epistemological authorities.
Therefore, Neurophilosophy is an interdisciplinary academic field that using the conceptual rigor and methods of philosophy of science explores the latest neuroscientific studies in order to solve the traditional arguments discussed by philosophy of the mind. For those of us supportive of empirical discoveries about brain structure and functions, this kind of “naturalistic” philosophical perspectives offer interesting answers since the actual neuroscientific discoveries of the past four decades have made it harder for philosophers to adopt dualism.
As pioneer thinker Patricia Churchland believes the advent of neurophilosophy was inevitable given the progress in neuroscience in the 1970’s. The latest scientific discoveries revealed many links between higher functions and neurobiological mechanisms in our brains and nervous systems including consciousness, self-control, decision-making, or problem-solving. Georg Northoff, another interesting scholar, thinks that the brain is “embedded” in our bodies which undermines the epistemic and ontological dissociation between brain and mind and consequently resolves what he calls the “brain-paradox”. According to cognitive scientist George Lakoff we are neural beings whose mind is embodied, the mechanisms of reason arise from the sensory-motor system which are ultimately shaped by the brain and body.
The success of Neurophilosophy depends upon the development of a set of new and brave scientific theories of the mind. For example Eliminative Materialism —as proposed by Patricia Churchland– argues that modern trust in the existence of mental phenomena is analogous to the ancient belief in obsolete theories such as the geocentric model of the universe. Radical theorizing about the mind may itself rest upon our taking seriously the possibility that our common sense perspective may be profoundly mistaken.
In order to continue discovering more about our minds, Neurophilosophers of the world let’s unite!
*(Pictures: Vaporwave wallpaper, neuroscience.gsu.edu & Wikipedia).