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SofiaTopia l Intro l Brain l Sensation l Revolution l NeuroPhilo l Epilogue l Biblio

Neurophilosophical Inquiries

from : the living brainmind
to : the imaginal mindbrain, an evolution ...

© Wim van den Dungen
Antwerp, 2003 - 2014.


a pluralist philosophy of mind
 3 stages of cognition & 7 modes of thought
the triune brain as executive organ of consciousness
the brain wired to transmit spiritual experiences
the realization of a neural "God-circuit"
the imaginal brainmind

"... what about such a proposition as 'I know I have a brain ?'
Can I doubt it ? Grounds for doubt are lacking !
Everything speaks in its favour, nothing against it.
Nevertheless it is imaginable that my skull
should turn out empty when it was operated on."
Wittgenstein, L. : On Certainty, 1969, 4.

These philosophical investigations encompass elementary neurology, the philosophy of mind and neurospirituality (also called "neurotheology"). They also address sensation and its neurophilosophy and so probe into the way the data issued by the five senses are interpreted by the brain (in particular, the crucial difference between pre-thalamic data and thalamic projection on the neocortex).

This accommodates a clean-clear scrutiny of the status of the five sensory systems of perception. If there is a physiological difference between appearance and interpretation, between "naked" (causal) stimuli and the resultant, post-thalamic sensoric synthesis, then clearly the distinction between perception, sensation and the resultant mental picture of objects taking shape "in our mind" is pertinent.

This is a crucial crucial issue both in epistemology, ethics and esthetics, for the truth, goodness & beauty of objects (and subjects) co-depends on sensate objects and mental objects. In metaphysics, this issue is linked with the topic of universal illusion, the point of view all mental constructions done on the basis of sensory input is illusionary, i.e. not appearing as they truly are ... The tenets of materialism, like naieve realism, could come under fatal attack, placing our constructing mind together with the senses at the crossroad between truth & falsehood, between valid and invalid empirico-formal propositions of science. This would herald the end of the limited, naieve materialistic views, infesting contemporary science and crippling further research into psychosomatism, suggestion, placebo, biofeedback & parapsychology, to name but a few.

Because of their larger setting, these studies entail epistemological, ethical, esthetical, ontological, anthropological & system-theoretical considerations. Apart from the Introduction, Epilogue & Bibliography, they are divided into four sections :

1. Neurophilosophy of Sensation
2. Neurology for Philosophers
3. Imagining the Brain
Interactionism, Suggestion & Placebo

In the Introduction, the materialistic axiom stating mental states are per definition caused, produced, secreted, made, generated etc. by the neurophysiology of the brain is bracketed. This position does not turn out to be the outcome of the investigation, neither should it be taken as the unchallenged building-block of neurophilosophy, quite on the contrary. Since Cartesius, rationalism has favored interactionism, not materialistic monism. In the ontology defended here, the triadism of matter, information & consciousness is considered to be more in tune with the diversity of human knowledge than monism, materialistic or otherwise. Hence, it may well be that brain states compute, process, execute, calculate, etc. mental states. Surely methologically, interactionism cannot to be rejected a priori ?

In the First Section, dealing with a neurophilosophy of sensation, the five senses are studied, in particular the way sensoric pathways and cortical modules process the formation of the five conscious states co-relative with smell, taste, touch, audition and sight. The division of the neocortex in primary, secondary and tertiary sensory areas plays an important role here. The present interactionistic philosophy of mind is rooted in a triadic, triune ontology with "consciousness", "information" and "matter" as logical primitives. In the epistemology and genesis of mind backing this exercise, the mind is viewed as a layered reality, the product of the sequential genesis of modes or layers of thought. Integrated rationality (or free thinking), completes three fundamental stages of cognition or rationality : prenominal ante-rationality, nominal rationality & post-nominal meta-rationality, and seven modes of thought : mythical, pre-rational, proto-rational, rational, critical, creative & nondual.

In the Second Section, intelligent design is reaffirmed, as evidenced in the universe as a whole, as well as in the sublime manifestation of material excellence as we know it : the human brain. However, intelligent design is divorced from traditional creationism, reintroducing the outdated models of theist theology. The question "Does the Divine exist ?" is answered affirmatively, but without bringing in the notion of a theist "God" or "Creator".

A comprehensive overview of the neuronal executants of the spiritual function in the brain is given. Thanks to, on the one hand, the distinctions between the spirituality of the Neanderthal (with a brain different from ours) and the Homo Sapiens sapiens (the Cro-Magnon) and, on the other hand, the discovery of "the abode of God" in the limbic system (amygdala-hippocampal complex), a cortico-limbic "God-circuit" may be postulated to identify the executant part of the brain computing the spiritual function of humanity. Clearly the word "God" is used as a metaphor for the spiritual function and not as referring to the traditional theism of the three religions "of the book" (Judaism, Christianity, Islam).

In the Third Section, the emancipatoric value of neurotheology is put into evidence. Recitation, prayer, meditation and ritual are the approved ways of the world religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity & Islam). Can neurofeedback improve these ancient spiritual technologies ? The evolution proposed, ignites the spirituality naturally embedded in the mind and executed (as a spiritual function) by its brain (together called the "brainmind") and allows consciousness to steer this emancipation by means of an imaginal representation of the brain (or "mindbrain"), put into play as a visualized neurofeedback interface or a neuro-emancipatoric cognitive map.

In the Fourth Section, the philosophy of neurology is at hand. After thoroughly criticizing exclusive materialism and its naieve realism as well as spiritualism and its naieve idealism, a critical triadic approach is defended on the basis of the distinction between matter, information and consciousness, viewed as three independent, non-reducible operators. Once in place, this interaction between, on the one hand, a material brain coded with information and, on the other hand, consciousness is discussed. After arguing interactionism, the importance of (auto)suggestion and placebo is analyzed in the context of neurospirituality, redefining genuine spirituality as at least a successful (auto)suggestion.

In the Epilogue, a series of "spiritual rules" are formulated on the basis of the foregoing investigations.



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initiated : 01 V 2003 - last update : 26 IX 2009 - version n°3