Pierre Buser

Neurophilosophy of the Brain Neurons That Aspire to Explain the Mind Publication date : March 28, 2013

Pierre Buser is a neurobiologist, a member of the French Academy of Sciences and an emeritus professor at Pierre-et-Marie-Curie University. He is the author or co-author of Cerveau de soi, cerveau de l’autre (1998), L’Inconscient aux mille visages (2005) and (with Claude Debru) Le Temps, instant et durée. De la philosophie aux neurosciences (2011).

Has it become possible to explain the workings of the mind simply by examining the brain? Certainly, say those who argue that the brain’s neuronal mechanics underlie and are responsible for all mental activity. No, say their opponents, for how could the mind’s complexity depend on nothing other than the brain and its functions?
Having read and heard both points of view, discussed with both sides and then examined arguments that both claim are ‘conclusive’, Pierre Buser summarises the main arguments and their central, and very topical, issues: how does one define consciousness, a fundamental aspect of the human — as well as animal — mind? What do we now know about the unconscious, that area of consciousness where so much of our cognitive and affective life and so many of our intellect’s attainments are stored? What do hypnosis and meditation, for example, teach us about the workings of the mind?

• Drawing on twenty-five centuries of the history and philosophy of science, an illuminating overview of the nature of the mind, its recently revealed mechanisms and its as-yet-undisclosed mysteries.

• A highly topical discussion, linked to the latest findings in the neurosciences: is it still relevant nowadays, given recent neurobiological research, to continue opposing, on one hand, the brain, the physiological and the organic and, on the other, the psyche and subjective experience?