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AIC Seminar Series

Neither Brain Nor Ghost: A Nondualist Alternative to the Mind-Brain Identity Theory

Teed RockwellSonoma State University

Notice:  hosted by Richard Waldinger

Date:  Thursday, November 17th 2005 at 2:30pm

Location:  EJ228  (Directions)


This talk is an introduction to Rockwell's new MIT Press book Neither Brain nor Ghost, which rejects both dualism and the mind-brain identity theory. Rockwell proposes that mental phenomena emerge not merely from brain activity but from an interacting nexus of brain, body, and world. The mind can be seen not as an organ within a body, but as a "behavioral field" that fluctuates within this brain-body-world nexus. If we reject the dominant form of the mind-brain identity theory, which Rockwell calls "Cartesian materialism" (distinct from Daniel Dennett's concept of the same name)Ðand accept this new alternative, then many philosophical and scientific problems can be solved. Neuroscience no longer supports the mind-brain identity theory because the brain cannot be isolated from the rest of the nervous system; moreover, there is evidence that the mind is hormonal as well as neural. These data, and a reanalysis of the concept of causality, show why the borders of mental embodiment cannot be neatly drawn at the skull, or even at the skin. This proposed view of the mind can resolve paradoxes engendered by the mind-brain identity theory in such fields as neuroscience, artificial intelligence, epistemology, and philosophy of language. Understanding the mind as a "behavioral field" supports the new cognitive science paradigm of dynamic systems theory (DST). A chapter by chapter summary of the book can be found at:

   Bio for Teed Rockwell

W. Teed Rockwell is in the philosophy department at Sonoma State University. He has published numerous articles in journals such as Colloquia Manilana, Philosophical Psychology, Behavior and Philosophy and The Journal of Consciousness Studies. He has presented papers at meetings of The Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and the American Philosophical Society. He presented a paper at SRI a few years ago, which was greatly expanded and recently published in Minds and Machines as "Attractor Spaces as Modules".

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