Dialogue

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How Brains Think

David Codera1

a1 Duke University

J.J.C. Smart once opined that if we were able to keep a human brain alive outside the skull, there would be no philosophical reason to believe that it could not think, and every physiological reason to believe that it could (“Materialism,” Journal of Philosophy, LX (1963), 651–662, pp. 659–660). Only a short time later, Wilfred Sellars asserted that if one were to deflesh and de-bone a human being, keeping the nervous system intact and discarding the rest, what one would have left would be, in all essentials, a person: a “core person,” Sellars says, thinking perhaps of apples (“The Identity Approach to the Mind-Body Problem,” Review of Metaphysics, XVIII (1965), 430–451, pp. 441–442). Since then, Bernard Gert has provided this view with an argument, describing an example which proves, in his opinion, that it makes sense to speak of brains as thinking. (“Can a Brain Have a Pain?” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, XXVII (1967), 432–436).