Commissurotomy, Consciousness and Unity of Mind
Marks (Charles)
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Author’s Introduction

  1. Recent psychological studies of commissurotomy1 patients have provoked considerable, sometimes wild, speculation by both philosophers and the experimenters themselves. Among neuropsychologists, the prevalent view is that the split-brain patient has two minds. These two minds are taken to exemplify a variety of dichotomies: for example, one is atomistic, analytic, digital, symbolic, discursive; the other, holistic, synthetic, analogic, perceptual, eidetic. Further, it is inferred, there is a similar split in the fundamental cognitive styles of the left and right halves of the intact brain, whether or not they are also counted as separate minds.
  2. Philosophers have been no less extravagant.
    • The split-brain studies reveal, Puccetti claims, that we, like split-brain patients, are collectives of two minds and persons, although we tend to identify with the more articulate member.
    • Nagel thinks that the research shows that our concept of the unity2 of a person is in disarray and that this concept, along with other mentalistic concepts, may be incompatible with an understanding of the physical basis of mind.
  3. In this monograph, my primary concern is the number of minds split-brain patients have; the speculations on what types of minds these may be, deriving from experiments on lateral specialization and cerebral dominance, are left for another time. I advocate a conservative assessment of split-brain research: the split-brain patient has one mind and is one person, although he has on occasion a disunified consciousness. The experimental results pose no special threat to our concept of the unity3 of a person; but they do falsify the common belief that a single mind can always jointly introspect its simultaneous conscious contents.
  4. The striking philosophical claims they have occasioned, as well as their intrinsic interest, obviously recommend the split-brain studies to philosophers. But there is another reason for philosophers to reflect on the split-brain research that may be concealed in works which, like the present one, do not contain much experimental or neurological detail. In order to characterize the results of split-brain research, one must make a great number of difficult, detailed decisions on the relation of specific, usually messy, behavioral and neurological data to mentalistic description. Rather than helping, the traditional theories of mind seem hopelessly out of place. The mind-body problem looks surprisingly different in close-up; the change of perspective is both disconcerting and stimulating.

BOOK COMMENT:

Bradford Books, MIT Press, London, 1981



"Marks (Charles) - The Split-Brain Syndrome: An Example of the Philosophically Puzzling Behavior Resulting from Commissurotomy"

Source: Marks - Commissurotomy, Consciousness and Unity of Mind, 1981, Chapter 1



"Marks (Charles) - How to Generate Philosophical Problems about Split-Brains"

Source: Marks - Commissurotomy, Consciousness and Unity of Mind, 1981, Chapter 2



"Marks (Charles) - Preliminary Analysis and Some Strategy"

Source: Marks - Commissurotomy, Consciousness and Unity of Mind, 1981, Chapter 3



"Marks (Charles) - In What Sense Do Split-Brain Patients Lack Unity of Consciousness"

Source: Marks - Commissurotomy, Consciousness and Unity of Mind, 1981, Chapter 4



"Marks (Charles) - Is the Consciousness of Split-Brain Patients Always Disunified?"

Source: Marks - Commissurotomy, Consciousness and Unity of Mind, 1981, Chapter 5



"Marks (Charles) - Can a Single Mind Ever Have a Disunified Consciousness"

Source: Marks - Commissurotomy, Consciousness and Unity of Mind, 1981, Chapter 6



"Marks (Charles) - Some Rough Truth Conditions for 'Split-Brain Patients Have One (Two) Mind(s)'"

Source: Marks - Commissurotomy, Consciousness and Unity of Mind, 1981, Chapter 7



"Marks (Charles) - How Does Disunity of Consciousness Bear upon Unity of Mind?"

Source: Marks - Commissurotomy, Consciousness and Unity of Mind, 1981, Chapter 8



"Marks (Charles) - Will an Adequate Psychology Favor a One-Mind Account of Split-Brain Patients?"

Source: Marks - Commissurotomy, Consciousness and Unity of Mind, 1981, Chapter 9



"Marks (Charles) - Commissurotomy, Consciousness and Unity of Mind: Wittgensteinian Postscript"

Source: Marks - Commissurotomy, Consciousness and Unity of Mind, 1981, Chapter 10



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