Does Neuroscience Disprove the Existence of the Mind?

For those already inclined toward materialism, the recent advancements in neuroscience—for instance, the ability of a surgeon to generate particular sensations by stimulating specific areas of the brain—show that there is nothing more to a human than millions of complexly organized cells. Materialists counterpose this conclusion to the allegedly discredited notion of the “soul” as an explanation for human consciousness and cognition. To William E. Carrol, however, neither materialism nor dualism “exhaust[s] the explanatory categories of the world”:

If we assume a materialist natural philosophy according to which there is not anything more to nature than material components, then we might very well conclude . . . that our thoughts are as material as the hearts beating inside our chests.

Another alternative, [however,] and a view that can incorporate what contemporary science discloses, can be found in the thought of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. For them, living things need to be understood in terms of material and immaterial principles: not that an organism is two separate substances joined together (dualism), but that there is more to an organism (indeed to any natural entity) than its material components. The very intelligibility of nature and of changes in nature calls for a view other than that set forth by materialism.

Organisms are real causes of what they do; they are not simply pushed and pulled about by extrinsic [mechanical] forces. But they cannot be real causes if they do not exist as real unified wholes. The source of that unity is other than the sum of material parts and processes.

Read more at First Things

More about: Dualism, History & Ideas, Materialism, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Soul

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy