The Stand-Alone Brain and the Thickly-Beating Heart

"...Under normal circumstances, experiences are had by a person, not by a stand-alone brain. The brain of an experiencing person is not isolated[...]it is in a body. Corresponding to this is the fact that when, for example, I see something I like, or someone I love, my brain, or some small part of it, is not the only part of me to light up. My heart may beat faster, or more thickly; a smile may appear on my face; and my step may be a little jauntier. The effects do not stop there. My body is located in a currently experienced environment; and, since I am human, that environment is situated in a world that is extended in all spatial, temporal, cultural directions. This world, too, may be transformed by my encounter with the loved one’s face, and I may think differently about it. For the extraordinary thing about human beings – and what captures what is human – is that they transcend their bodies; that human experience is not solitary sentience but has a public face; it belongs to a community of minds. This is a process that has developed over many hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of years since hominids parted company from the monkeys. The neuromythologist, trying to find citizens and their worlds in neurones, stuffs all that has been created by the collective of brains back into a stand-alone brain; indeed into a small part of such a brain. True, we require a brain to participate in the community of minds; but that participation is not to be reduced to activity in bits of brains."

-from Raymond Tallis, here

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