Some puzzles concerning relations between minds, brains, and bodies

(2016)
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Abstract

In this article I explore a number of questions that have not been adequately investigated in philosophy of mind circles: are minds located in the same place as the brains (or other computing machinery) supporting them? Must they exist at the same location as the body? Must they exist at the same time? Could a single mind be implemented in multiple brains, or multiple minds in a single brain? Under what conditions might a single mind persist despite being implemented successively in different brains? What contributions do features of the computing machinery make to these questions, compared to the contribution made by the body and embedded point of view? Some of these questions have been touched on previously, but there hasn’t been any attempt at a systematic analysis of the various consequences that different approaches in the philosophy of mind have for how the spatiotemporal location, synchronic individuation and diachronic identity of minds relates to the spatiotemporal location, synchronic individuation, and diachronic identity of both the implementing computational machinery and the embodied embedded point of view. I make a first stab at such an analysis by discussing a variety of thought experiments in which such questions of location, individuation, and identity arise, and I explore how various approaches to understanding the mind – identity theoretic, functionalist, contentualist, embodied/embedded/extended, and so forth – would respond to such situations. A number of novel issues emerge, and some surprising affinities are revealed.

Author's Profile

Rick Grush
University of California, San Diego

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