Here is a 3 part video set that shows what naturalists think the fate of philosophy will be in the “age of neuroscience”
Our biological similarities with animals should serve as evidence that our real cognitive differences do not lie in our biological/physical make-up. However, neuroscientists like the ones above are quite happy to paint humans as mere machines responding to stimulus around them (aka, naturalism). The problem they face (and have yet to address) is that human’s regularly display patterns of mental activity in the absence of any stimulus. It’s called dreaming and it is the experimental Achilles heel of neuroscientists who think their field will supplant fields dealing with metaphysics like philosophy and theology.
Now neuroscience does a great job in showing us how the brain functions and how it may affect our cognitive abilities, but when it makes claims like “our cognitive faculties are only material, nothing else” it steps outside of empirical science and into philosophy. Even if it were true that we are nothing more than molecules in motion, there would be no epistemically valid reason for us to believe it.
Also, “I can’t imagine” is not an accurate representation of the current argument against philosophical naturalism. This is what the neuroscientist above arrives as at when pressed on the implications of their views in regard to the free will, a phenomenon all humans experience. The real argument is based on the logical contradiction found in epistemically closed system1. If the physical is all there is, then our brains are causally directed by the world around us. The will is rendered a myth and our appearance of thought is merely an illusion (which also begs the question as to where this illusion came from in the first place). It’s odd that she brings up the commonly believe and ultimately false scientific notion that the universe had no beginning. If our brains are nothing more than complex machines, then our thoughts had no beginning either.
She also misrepresents Galelio, his error was making wild claims without sufficient proof in arrogant ways. Much like what naturalists do when they claim to have answers they don’t.
Using fire as a deconstruction linguistic tool to lead into their definition of free will. Culminates in a great big “we don’t know”. We don’t know? Really?
- That is, a system where new knowledge cannot be acquired. In this case new knowledge is impossible if our minds are causally controlled by purely physical forces. [↩]