Aldo Stella

Touching a Nerve. The Self as Brain of Patricia S. Churchland: some critical reflections

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Brain; Self; Formal Cause; Reductionism; Monism.

Curchland's book "Touching a Nerve. The Self as Brain" represents one of the most significant manifestos of contemporary reductionism. In this article we discuss the fundamental theses of this approach and we highlight how ontological monism, which ends up in a methodological monism, does not account for the differences which appear in the experience. We propose a "minimal dualism", which is based on formal causes, together with material and efficient causes, to use the Aristotelian language, such that also the reality of the human person can be understood as a synthesis of matter and form, i.e. as a set of biological structures and functions. In such a way, the Self appears as a function that unifies the multiple functions of the brain and can be interpreted as the "formal cause of it.

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