The Human Brain and Philosophy

As early as the 70s science had established right brain superiority at performing visual and spatial tasks, such as drawing three-dimensional shapes, and left brain specialization for language, speech, and problem solving. (Gazzaniga,1996). By 2005, Gazzaniga said scientific research has proved that the brain could insists on created belief. He said research findings tend to show that the left-hemisphere interpreter is not only a master of belief creation, but it will stick to its belief system no matter what.

In this context the scientist in effect is also warning us that the brain could serve to make humans slaves of their philosophical or religious belief: Any time our left brain is confronted with information that does not jibe with our self-image, knowledge, or conceptual framework, our left-hemisphere interpreter creates a belief to enable all incoming information to make sense and mesh with our ongoing idea of our self. The interpreter seeks patterns, order, and causal relationships. (Gazzaniga, 2005).

The implications for religion and philosophy are tremendous, but more striking with recent findings is that ancient philosophers without the aid of neuro-cognitive science research have long before seen some semblance of similarity with what science now is uncovering. Philosophy of the rationalist schools of thought expounded extensively on how we can perceive truths: through experience or by reason, and/or a combination of both. (Empiricism, Rationalism, or a mix of both thinking. ) The dialogue ranged from the point that reason determines knowledge to the extreme position that reason is the unique path to knowledge.

Brain and Philosophy 2 But going even further back to ancient philosophy, Socrates expounded long ago on the Greek belief that the soul had an irrational and a rational side, and that the ideal would be to develop the rational dominating the irrational. The Platonic dictum of know thyself, is in effect the rational mastering the modern brain to mean man’s full potential. Descartes later also upheld reason and the scientific method, asserting that such empirical experiences such as dreams (among the experiential but unreliable illusionary reality) cannot determine reality.

Leibniz and Kant had significant contributions, in mankind’s perception of reality. In trying to make sense of the many opinions on reality and experience, Leibniz at one point argued that the universal reality is the best that the Creator can make out of the universe—a case or sort of optimization — explanation that seemed to have tried to make sense out of the rational and empirical explanations of what the mind perceives as chaotic. Philosophy tries to make sense out of everything, using argument or reason — and experience, but as Socrates seemed to have proved long ago, we always ended up in the inquiry where we began.

Ultimately what common source all these arguments come from is clearly the brain itself, whose physiology and functions are magnificently being unraveled by science. Ironically Gazzaniga seemed to be also warning us that what inhibits the unraveling is right there in our brains too, in the left hemisphere which resists the inconvenience of new findings that challenge our long held beliefs. . If we shall let the full flowering of the rational to proceed, as Plato and Socrates had long espoused, it looks like we’re the better for it. This unites the end of philosophy with what our scientists are trying to help us find out.

(2005) Brain and Philosophy 3 References 1 Gazzanga,M. “Whole Brain Interpreter”: Science News, February 24, 1996. Retrieved October 15, 2008 http://pegasus. cc. ucf. edu/~fle/gazzaniga. html 2 Gazzanga,M. The Ethical Brain by Michael Gazzaniga . (Chicago. : Dana Press 2005) ,145-55. Retrieved October 15,2008 from http://www. press. uchicago. edu/Misc/Chicago/1932594019. html 3. Definitions of rationalism and empiricism used the Stanford encyclopedia Retrieved October 15,2008 http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/rationalism-emp