The Mind is not the Brain: John Dewey, Neuroscience, and Avoiding the Mereological Fallacy

Dewey Studies 1 (1):111-130 (2017)


The purpose of this paper is to argue that however impressive and useful its results, neuroscience alone does not provide a complete theory of mind. We specifically enlist John Dewey to help dispel the notion that the mind is the brain. In doing so, we explore functionalism to clarify Dewey’s modified functionalist stance and argue for avoiding “the mereological fallacy.” Mereology is the study of part-whole relations. The mereological fallacy arises from confusing the properties of a necessary subfunction with the properties that derive from the unity of the whole functional coordination. We conclude that the mind is a complex distributed biologicalsociocultural function that is not simply located anywhere and, therefore, is not completely in the possession of any one : it occurs wherever it has consequences.

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James Garrison
Virginia Tech

References found in this work

Ontological Relativity.W. V. Quine - 1968 - Journal of Philosophy 65 (7):185-212.
Minds and Machines.Hilary Putnam - 1960 - In Sidney Hook (ed.), Dimensions of Minds. New York, USA: New York University Press. pp. 138-164.

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