Soul or Mind? Some Remarks on Explanation in Cognitive Science

Józef Bremer



In the article author analyses the extent to which it is possible to regard the Aristotelian conception of the soul as actually necessary and applicable for modern neuroscience. The framework in which this objective is going to be accomplished is provided by the idea of the coexistence of the “manifest” and “scientific” images of the world and persons, as introduced by Wilfrid Sellars. In subsequent sections, author initially formulates an answer to the questions of what it is that Aristotle sought to explain with his conception of soul as formal cause, and how this notion could be portrayed in terms drawn from contemporary neurological science. It is author’s intention to show that no other concepts—be they the Cartesian “mind” or a Chalmers-style “self”—come anywhere close to matching the breadth of scope of Aristotelian “soul”. At the same time, though, analysis carried out here do not intend to undertake any kind of defence of the soul as a spiritual entity of the sort popular where religious faith is concerned, namely as an entity separable from the body, immortal, and inimitably tied to God. Then, in the second major part of the article, author analyses the extent to which the Aristotelian conception of the soul can be thought of as involving criteria of the sort that we encounter in the contemporary theory of strong emergence. According to the author the theory of strong emergence has, as a heuristic theory, quite general predictive and explanatory power as regards the field of human thought and behaviour.


soul, mind, self, brain, neuroscience, strong emergence, Aristotle

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