Mind Regained

Mind Regained

Mind Regained

Mind Regained

Synopsis

In this highly accessible book, a distinguished philosopher says current focus on the brain conceals the real powers of the mind. Edward Pols revisits one of the basic topics of philosophy: what is the distinction between mind and body and what is the relation between them? He disagrees fundamentally with the many contemporary philosophers who concentrate on the findings of neurophysiology and cognitive science and so look only to the brain for the causes and explanation of mind. Pols concedes the importance of such scientific studies but maintains that they focus on the infrastructure of mind and ignore the momentous difference between the infrastructure and mind itself.

Pols calls upon the reader to attend to mind itself as a concrete and experientially available reality. This kind of attention, he argues persuasively, reveals mind to be at once causally dependent on the brain and causally effective on the physical processes of the brain and the world. Pols also examines the hierarchical viewof mind and causality first proposed by Plato and Aristotle, the supersession of that view by the received scientific doctrine of causality, and the mistaken denial of the power of the mind to know an independent reality -- a denial that resulted from the philosophical doctrines about knowing developed in the era that began with Descartes and ended with Kant.

Excerpt

To speak of mind regained is to imply that mind has been lost. But in this century, in which mind has accomplished such wonders in science and technology, how can it be plausibly implied that mind has been lost? in the course of the twentieth century, the power of mind's functions has revolutionized the study of physics. It has unleashed on this planet the terrible energy that drives the sun and the other stars. It has flung about the planet and indeed about the entire solar system an electronic web so delicate and precise that by virtue of it some of us have walked on the moon, and all of us have been able to inspect, as it were at close range, the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. That power has constructed and stationed in the clarity of space a telescope whose unexampled reach has opened to our sight an intergalactic vastness far greater than that imagined space whose silence so frightened Pascal. It has constructed a complex blend of intricate theory and instruments that has allowed us to "see" into some of the most fine-grained energy transactions of nature; it has produced another complex of theory and instruments that allows us to "see" (and to aspire to control) the minuscule logical structure of living matter. in all these achievements the power of mind's manifold functions seems only now to be coming into its maturity. in such a time how can it even be suggested that mind has been lost?

My title, I concede, is an exaggeration. But something profoundly important to mind's well-being has indeed been lost, and lost by the very persons who should have been most zealous to preserve it--I mean the most influential workers in academic philosophy, cognitive science, and neurophysiology. Mind, as represented by this group of philosophers and scientists, has failed to see that it operates as a real cause within and upon the material world, and that this real causality is the source of all the theoretical and physical devices that have made possible all the wonders I mentioned. Mind, as represented by that influential body of persons, has lost an adequate understanding of the very functions by virtue of which it accomplishes both its everyday and its more exalted tasks. It . . .

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