Neuroscience Makes the Mind More Mysterious, Not Less
Despite the chorus of neuroscientists who say they are finally unraveling the mind's mysteries, do we understand ourselves better as a clump of cells and a blur of electricity?
What's the Latest Development?
fMRI machines and PET scanners, which can slice images of the brain to detect blood flow and electrical activity, are often thought of as having solved the mysteries of consciousness (where does it come from and what is it like?) After all, breaking the brain down to its constituent parts ought to tell us something important about consciousness, which is obviously related to the brain. But the more we know about the brain, says philosophy professor Colin McGinn, the less we understand about consciousness. The brain is just a mass of biological cells and a hub of electric current.
What's the Big Idea?
Professor McGinn was the first philosopher to be called a 'mysterian', labeling his point of view that consciousness may ultimately prove too mysterious for humans to understand. Initially the term was slightly reproachable but it has now gained wider acceptance. McGinn is perhaps the ultimate naturalist: "What chance is there that an intelligence geared to making stone tools and grounded in the contingent peculiarities of the human hand can aspire to uncover all the mysteries of the universe? Can omniscience spring from an opposable thumb?"
Photo credit: shutterstock.com
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.
- Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
- The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
- Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.
- Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
- A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
- The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.