Continuing discussion.

EPS Blog

This is the blog area for the Evangelical Philosophical Society and its journal, Philosophia Christi.

Friday, November 21, 2008

2008 EPS Papers (Menuge)

Angus Menuge

Is Downward Causation Possible?

Abstract: Materialists have advanced several arguments to show that "downward causation" (mental to physical causation) is impossible. It is claimed that downward causation: (1) violates the causal closure of the physical; (2) is incompatible with natural law; (3) cannot be reconciled with the empirical evidence from neuroscience. This paper responds to these objections by arguing that: (1) there is no good reason to believe that the physical is causally closed; (2) properly understood, natural laws are compatible with downward causation; (3) recent findings in neuroscience reported by Schwartz, Beauregard and others provide strong empirical support for downward causation.

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Blogger Khaldoun Sweis said:


A very fascinating paper. Would you please tell us where we can get more information on the recent findings in neuroscience that you reported by Schwartz, Beauregard and others that provide strong empirical support for downward causation?


By Blogger Khaldoun Sweis, at December 2, 2008 at 9:00 PM  

Blogger Angus Menuge said:

Here is a list of relevant sources, some of which themselves contain more references:

Schwartz, Jeffrey M., Stapp, Henry P., and Beauregard, Mario. “Quantum physics in neuroscience and psychology: a neurophysical model of mind-brain interaction.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Series B, 2004 doi: 10.1098/rstb.2004.1598, 1-19.

Crawford Elder, “Mental Causation versus Physical Causation: No Contest.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 62, No. 1 (Jan., 2001), 111-127, 112.

K. N. Oschner et. al., “Re-thinking feelings: and fMRI study of the cognitive regulation of emotion.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 14 (2002), 1215-1229.

Mario Beauregard, “Mind does really matter: Evidence from neuroimaging studies of emotional self-regulation, psychotherapy and placebo effect,” Progress in Neurobiology Volume 81, Issue 4, March 2007, Pages 218-236 (2007), doi:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2007.01.005., 224.

Jeffrey M. Schwartz and Sharon Begley, The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force (New York: HarperCollins, 2003).

Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary, The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul (New York: HarperCollins, 2007).

David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).

Benjamin Libet, “Do we Have Free Will?” in eds. Anthony Freeman, Keith Sutherland and Ben Libet, The Volitional Brain: Towards a Neuroscience of Free Will (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2000), 47-57.

A. K. and E. Shapiro, The Powerful Placebo: From Ancient Priest to Modern Physician (Baltimore: MD: Johns Hopkins University, 1997), cited in Mario Beauregard, “Mind does really matter,” 227.

Bernie S. Siegel, M.D., Love, Medicine and Miracles: Lessons Learned About Self-Healing From a Surgeon’s Experience with Exceptional Patients (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1986), 37.

Norman Cousins, Head First: The Biology of Hope (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1989), 234.

Mary Jane Ott, Rebecca L. Norris and Susan M. Bauer-Wu, “Mindfulness Meditation for Oncology Patients: A Discussion and Critical Review,” Integrative Cancer Therapies 2006; 5; 98, DOI: 10.1177/1534735406288083, 106.

By Blogger Angus Menuge, at December 3, 2008 at 9:22 AM  

Blogger Quartermaine' s World said:

Just read the Beauregard book, The Spiritual Brain..... Very interesting and (to an agnostic)a useful counterpoint to the materialist view...BUT... Why has no one (including clearly the author) read Kant and Schopenhauer? Why reference e.g., Aldous Huxley and not the most important philosophers since Plato? Even Hume and William James would have been a little more impressive. Come on folks, if you are going to investigate the mind-brain conumdrum, please do read the most important texts ever written on the subject. Especially since the KantSchopemnhauser argument provides a logical framework for believing in something more than materialism and one which despite efforts of people like Wittgenstein (never mind pretenders like Dennett)has never been shaken

By Blogger Quartermaine' s World, at December 29, 2008 at 4:12 AM  

Blogger Khaldoun Sweis said:

Good point about reading the great works on this issue before writing about it :) . What particular Kant/Schopemnhauser argument are you referring to?

By Blogger Khaldoun Sweis, at December 31, 2008 at 12:28 AM  

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