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    The theory of brain-sign: a new theory of the brain

    Clapson, Philip (2015) The theory of brain-sign: a new theory of the brain. In: The Human Sciences after the Decade of the Brain, 30th-31st March 2015, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany. (Unpublished)

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    In a paper published in 2013 in the journal Neuron, under the title ‘The New Science of Mind and the Future of Knowledge’, the Nobel Laureate, Eric Kandel, states that ‘The unity of consciousness – our sense of self – is the greatest remaining mystery of the brain. As a philosophical concept, consciousness continues to defy consensus.’ Since mind depends foundationally upon consciousness, and science depends foundationally upon the mind, this perfectly illustrates the parlous condition of neuroscience as a science. In recent years I have developed a new neurobiological theory: the theory of brain-sign. The theory aims to do two things. (1) It rejects the notion of consciousness because it is not a scientific category. Adherence to it inhibits the development of neuroscience. (2) It provides a scientifically feasible account of how brains communicate with each other for the purpose of collective action in uncertain or imprecise tasks. It can be seen, therefore, as the physical foundation of the social sciences. The theory proposes that brain-sign is derived by the brain from its causal orientation toward the world at each moment. Thus the mysterious arrival in the world of mental states is superseded by a scientific explanation of why there is any brain phenomenon at all, and how the phenomenon is to be interpreted. But it also proposes the interpretation is the brain’s self-description of its causal states. Thus brain-sign is both the brain’s means of inter-organism communication about what in the world has caused its causal orientation, and the self-explanation of its condition. ‘We are’, as brain-sign, wholly the brain’s product. The brain’s function is to control the body in its relation to the world for survival and reproduction. Survival chances increase by organisms being able to act collectively. Consciousness theory presupposes that the spatial separation between organisms presents a problem of how to understand another organism’s actions in collective activity. Hence the need for mental states: sight, hearing, sensation, feeling, thought. Brain-sign theory rejects these mentalist inventions. In collective action, individuals are bound together as one unit by the intermediary physical conditions of molecular transmission, electromagnetic radiation and compression waves. Cooperating with another is literally performing as one physical unit, via the impact of the intermediary conditions on each organism’s senses We take it we do see and understand. However, that you and I seem to see the tree does not mean we do. How could a physical brain see anything? Our conviction about seeing and understanding is the way our brains communicate. Our brains signify their mutual current causal orientation as the brain-sign of our seeming to see the tree. Our conviction about seeing is part of that sign, not a verification of mental life. Hence as organisms we can pick apples together. Eating apples aids our survival. Signs are ubiquitous in biology, and they are wholly physical.


    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2016 14:16
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:20


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