The neuroscience of psychiatric disorders and the metaphysics of consciousness
In this chapter, I first review and assess evidence regarding brain damage or neural abnormalities associated with some psychopathologies and cognitive deficits, such as hemispatial neglect, agnosias, amnesia, somatoparaphrenia, and others. It becomes clear just how closely normal mental functioning and consciousness depend upon normal brain functioning as well as how some very specific mental changes occur when, and only when, very specific brain damage occurs. I then explore the metaphysical implications of these results with respect to the nature of mind and consciousness. In particular, I examine the plausibility of materialism, roughly the view that mental processes are brain processes, in light of the evidence discussed and in contrast to a dualist conception of the mind (whereby mental states are not physical in some sense). I also explore the prospects for a conscious afterlife based both on the brain damage evidence adduced and the metaphysical implications discussed. For example, even if conscious mentality merely depends upon proper neural function, does it then stand to reason that all of one's conscious mental activity ceases when all neural functioning ceases? One might suppose that an affirmative answer to this question is more reasonable than the negative answer, but it may be impossible to know with any degree of confidence.
Gennaro, R. (2019)., The neuroscience of psychiatric disorders and the metaphysics of consciousness, in H. L. . Mesones arroyo (ed.), Psychiatry and neuroscience update, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 53-64.
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