Frontotemporal degeneration
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Tomorrow night (21 September), at The Gate from 7.30pm, with discussion led by Jean Jacques Hodge.

Are we, increasingly, “common-sense materialists” when it comes to the mind? Do we tend to agree with statements such as “the mind is the brain”, and to accept, for example, that neuroscience can tell us more about who we are than introspection ever can? In this Cafe, we are invited to consider whether materialist views of the nature of mind stand on genuinely solid foundations, and whether different approaches may have more to offer, when confronting the problem of consciousness.

More information regarding Cafe events is available at the main Cafe website.

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2 thoughts on “Next Cafe: Materialism, Mind and the Brain”

  1. At the beginning of the lecture I was noting that, when I am on the same side as the speaker, I do not get worked up in a debate where otherwise I would.

    This comfortable space lasted for a good while. Then it began to evaporate, and at the end I was dead against the speakers philosophical position despite the fact that he had the same sentiments as me regarding the worth or otherwise of materialism.

    At the end of the talk I said to Jean Hodge that, despite his idea that he was not a materialist, he was a materialist, and a hard-line, out and out one at that. The reason I gave was that he endorsed the material pragmatism of science and its ability to show us things about our nature. My claim was that as science deals with physical facts alone then he was reducing mind to physical facts alone, hence he was a materialist. Hodge responded that science doesn’t deal with facts alone. But I took that sort of dealing to be associated with philosophy, not science. And besides, he used a number of examples to indicate that we could look for mind through material, or even quantum, examination.

    Meanwhile, my point that would have extricated him from the materialist position was passed over. It was a subtle point, probably original. I said that materialism cannot identify a brain. I reduced this again to the idea that materialism has no innate limits that can determine the extent of any physical object whatever. The alternative, I said, was universal animism – that objects set their own limits and identify themselves, a curious proposal. I added that what I was suggesting was a common-sense view: the brain – a physically limited object – has these limits set from reports of our experience.

    In other words, I was arguing that materialism was incoherent when it came to assigning identity to objects, as materialism per se has no objects. I thought that the speaker was reluctant to accept such a catastrophe, which is another reason why I thought that his position was one of a reluctant materialist.

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