Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB)

Mind-body vs world-brain problem: do we need a Copernican revolution?

  • Date: –14:30
  • Location: Biomedicinskt centrum, BMC Boströmrummet
  • Lecturer: Georg Northoff (MD, PhD)
  • Organiser: Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics
  • Contact person: Pär Segerdahl
  • Seminarium

Open higher seminar

Abstract: Philosophers have long debated the mind- body problem—whether to attribute such mental features as consciousness to mind or to body. Meanwhile, neuroscientists search for empirical answers, seeking neural correlates for consciousness, self, and free will. In this book, Georg Northoff does not propose new solutions to the mind-body problem; instead, he questions the problem itself, arguing that it is an empirically, ontologically, and conceptually implausible way to address the existence and reality of mental features. We are better off, he contends, by addressing consciousness and other mental features in terms of the relationship between world and brain; philosophers should consider the world-brain problem rather than the mind-body problem. This calls for a Copernican shift in vantage point—from within the mind or brain to beyond the brain—in our consideration of mental features.

Georg Northoff is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Mind, Brain Imaging, and Neuroethics at the University of Ottawa.