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Where for art thou, choice?

November 17, 2009

There’s a great conversation going on over at Common Sense Atheism regarding naturalism and the grounds for morality.  As an aside, Luke has fostered an environment that welcomes many different viewpoints – check out his blog when you have a chance.

That discussion dovetails nicely with the Angus Menuge article I read recently in Philosophia Christi, Is Downward Causation Possible?  I was particularly intrigued by Menuge’s discussion of brain remapping and therapies for OCD.  Quoting a summation of Jeffrey Schwartz‘s work:

Schwartz’s results provide evidence that purely mental events, such as conscious attention, actually change the physical structure of the OCD circuit.  Given the powerful arguments from the philosophy of mind that consciousness does not itself reduce to physical processes in the brain, this result is not plausibly interpreted as one part of the brain gaining control of another, which could be explained as the result of materialistic, bottom-up processes.  Rather, Schwartz’s work is best explained by theorizing that consciousness has a downward causal influence on the brain, that attention can actually reconfigure the brain’s structure.

I had never heard of Schwartz before – his work is probably worth a read!

[Edit: Tom Gilson has a related post]

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