Denyse O’Leary on the Signal and the Set (the Mind and the Brain)

I see that Denyse O’Leary, the co-author of The Spiritual Brain (a book I recommend), has a blog. Here she is offering a non-reductionist analogy for the mind’s relationship to the brain (it might be like a television signal in relation to a television set): 

Non-materialist neuroscience, which we explore in The Spiritual Brain, treats the relationship between the mind and the brain in a non-reductionist way, like the relationship between a television program and a television set. The program requires the set but cannot be reduced to it. Little will be discovered about the program by analyzing the set. On the other hand, if the set is damaged, it may not transmit the program very well.

I find the analogy intriguing—and hopeful (if you would like to believe that consciousness somehow continues without your individual “television set”). Seneca, toward the end of his life, wrote:

I have always wanted to know if the soul is immortal. I will soon know.

Are the self, free will, and mind not just illusory epiphenomena of matter, but really in the house—things to be contended with?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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1 Response to Denyse O’Leary on the Signal and the Set (the Mind and the Brain)

  1. TomH says:

    You started me thinking. What about beauty, justice, virtue? Are they real? If so, pre-existing or emergent?

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