Volume 87, 2013
Aristotle Now and Then
Daniel D. De Haan, Geoffrey A. Meadows
Aristotle and the Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience
This paper aims to show that the thought of Aristotle can shed much light on the irksome problems that lurk around the philosophical foundations of neuroscience. First, we will explore the ramifications of Aristotle’s mereological principle, namely, that it is not the eye that sees, but the human person that sees by the eye. Next, we shall draw upon the riches of Maxwell Bennett’s and Peter Hacker’s Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience (PFN) in order to elucidate how Aristotle’s mereological principle can be of service to contemporary neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers. In the third and fourth parts we aim to complement the project of PFN by showing how Aristotle’s philosophical anthropology and doctrine of pros hen equivocation can strengthen PFN’s response to eliminativists, reductionists, and other critics of “folk psychology.” Finally, our last section will investigate the kinds of correlations involved in brain scanning techniques, such as fMRI, so as to determine whether the most recent empirical discoveries do in fact support various critics’ rejection of “folk psychology.” We will show that the empirical evidence does not in fact favor eliminativist or reductionist views, and that we would do well to turn to the more Aristotelian approaches to neuroscience adopted by PFN and ourselves.