The Neurocognitive Paralogism

The effort of the man of science is concentrated in penetrating the causes of things, rather than penetrating things themselves. Particularly in neuroscience, such endeavor is often practiced with a goal in mind that goes beyond explaining behavioral and psychological phenomena: it aims at explaining them away. In other words, the postulate is that brain shall replace mind. Then, what is left for the scientist to do is simply to fill in the details (despite how hard that task can indeed be). On the other hand, it is surprising that drafting behind current scientific findings, the philosopher does not get more momentum to deepen into these questions — questions which were always her questions. It would not be an overstatement to say that she is either indifferent to science or subservient to it. But, to what extent knowing how the brain works can inform us as to what the mind is? And, isn’t it with our mind that we actually study the brain? An inadequate switching between idealism and realism seems to be at work. Our attention dwells on neuroscience biggest undeclared conflict of interests: a mind examining its brain in order to declare itself epiphenomenal. Given that neuroscience is a young science, its fallacious promises represent a precious opportunity only if uncovered on time. There is no data devoid of interpretation. There is no science without a metaphysics underneath. There is no fruitful doubt that does not require a dose of belief. In other words, our goal will be to show how the myth of reason bootstraps itself. We will attempt such philosophical exercise by using neuroscience as a privileged study case. Overall, it may be asked whether the promises of science are not already given in its philosophical premises and, if so, to what degree we should prevent to pretend our surprise when those latent a priori conclusions emerge after a technological tour-de-force — like when a mathematical equality turns out to be an identity. We, thus, will have to oppose the thesis defended by most so-called neurophilosophers when they claim that the brain-mind duality is solved via mutilation. Stagnation in neuroscience is only avoidable if one is able to bring back the spark of natural philosophy to the laboratory. Philosophy can borrow from science the data on which it feeds and restore them to science in the form of understanding which it has stamped with its own light.

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