(As this series takes place, we will add the video links to the presentations here.)
JP Moreland, Sept 21 video link: The Mind/Body Problem (part 1)
Doug Huffman, Oct 27 video link: The Mind/Body Problem (part 2)
Nancy Duvall, Nov 30 video link: The Mind/Body Problem (part 3)
We live in a confusing cultural moment when it comes to brains, souls, minds and spirits.
Are these all the same thing? Are these all social constructs? Is the brain really the bedrock and everything else is just a cultural contingency? And, furthermore, is science soon to answer these questions? If so, which science? Medicine? Psychology? Neuropsychology? Physiology?
This is not merely an academic controversy. A few moments scanning the web led me to the following quotations:
Brain Surgeon Searches for the Soul
How to wire your brain for religious ecstasy.
Dean Hamer claims to have found a gene associated with “self-transcendence” or “spirituality” in a group of 1,000 subjects who filled out surveys that probed their beliefs in God, ESP, and so on. Hamer calls this gene “the spiritual allele” or, even more dramatically, the “God gene”
I flew to Laurentian University in Midwestern Canada to test a gadget called the “God machine.” The device consisted of computer-controlled solenoids that fit over the skull and stimulate the brain with electromagnetic pulses. Its inventor, neuroscientist Michael Persinger, claimed that it could induce mystical experiences, including visions of “Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Mohammed, the Sky Spirit.”
Logline from the movie Limitless: Bradley Cooper portrays a man who uses a super drug to access 100% of his brain power, essentially becoming the most perfect human.
My personal favorite:
In the end, does the brain create the mind? Or is the Mind already out there? You decide.
You decide?! I’m sorry, but who is “you”? Are “you” a brain or a mind? What in the world is a “decision”? Can a physical object make a choice? What if you decide differently that I do—will you be a brain and while I’m being a mind? If I beat my head against the wall in frustration, will I hurt my brain or my mind?—wait, I know, it’s my choice! I think I’ll hurt my brain but keep my mind…if you don’t mind.
So, back to the point, in the fall of 2011 our Table Talks will focus on this compelling problem. We will be having presentations from JP Moreland (Philosophy), Doug Huffman (Biblical Studies), and Nancy Duvall (Psychology) giving a broad spectrum of the controversy. We will post the videos from these presentations on this page, so come back often to get the updates. For those on campus, the schedule is:
All meetings will take place from 12:00-1:15 in the Cafeteria Dining Room
Resources & Links
We will also be building a list of resources that you may find helpful.
A helpful general bibliography of works addressing this issue has been provided by Doug Huffman:
Some specific sources relevant to JP’s presentation:
Dualism in biblical culture:
John Cooper, Body, Soul & Life Everlasting (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, rev. ed., 2000);
N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press, 2003), pp. 81-84, 128-34, 140-43, 190-206)
Richard Swinburne, The Evolution of the Soul. Oxford: Clarendon, rev. ed., 1997
Thomistic (substance) Dualism:
J. P. Moreland and Scott Rae. Body and Soul. Downers Grove, Illinois: 2000.
Paul Churchland, Matter and Consciousness. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, rev. ed., 1988
Jaegwon Kim, Philosophy of Mind, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1996
Some other interesting material:
This piece from Time magazine gives a typical news magazine discussion of the contemporary scene. It also includes a helpful presentation of the distinction between the “easy” and the “hard” problem of consciousness. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1580394,00.html