Searching for a mind's brain: questioning underlying biophilosophical assumptions

Jakob Korf*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    This article assesses the applicability of a number of biological and neurobiological concepts to biophilosophical concepts of life and mind. Life, as instantiated by viable cells and organisms, is considered as a prerequisite of mind. Views such as embodied cognition, external mind or scaffolding theories were ignored. The biological characteristics of life and mind that are in particular relevant in the present context are: reversibility and irreversibility of brain processes, distinction between metabolic and potential brain energy, and the continuous turnover of brain constituents. The (bio) philosophical concepts multiple realizability, teleology, autopoiesis, panpsychism, supervenience and emergentism are shortly introduced and assessed in such a biological context.

    The assessments lead to the conclusion that the philosophical concepts are only partially compatible with the biological concepts and need to be adapted to align with current (neuro) biology. The presently discussed options favor the idea that emergence fits best with the (neuro) biological principles, provided that the mind is considered a neurophysiological process, thus with a time-dimension. Bridging theories to couple neural brain processes directly to mental processes have as yet to be developed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalDialogues in philosophy mental and neuro sciences
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jun-2017


    • multirealizability
    • teleology
    • autopoiesis
    • panpsychism
    • supervenience
    • emergence

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