THE SPREAD MIND
Why our experience and the object we experience are one

Box 2

Physical ≠ Neural

There are plenty of reasons why something can be physical without being neural. A red apple is physical as anything can be and still there is no trace of neural activity. While neural is undoubtly physical, the opposite is not necessarily true. There is plenty of physical phenomena which are not neural. Thus why do many distinguished scholars (both in philosophy and in science) keep making this confusion? For one, consider Jaegwon Kim about this issue:

if you are a physicalist of any stripe, as most of us are, you would likely believe in the local supervenience of qualia that is, qualia are supervenient on the internal physical/biological states of the subject. (Kim 1995: 160)

Or a neuroscientist like Atti Revonsuo

The dreaming brain shows us that sensory input and motor output are not necessary for producing a fully realized phenomenal level of organization. The dreaming brain creates the phenomenal level in an isolated form, and in that sense provides us with insights into the processes that are sufficient for producing the phenomenal level. (Revonsuo 2000: 58)

Or a world-renowned expert in consciousness like Cristoph Koch

If there is one thing that scientists are reasonably sure of, it is that brain activity is both necessary and sufficient for biological sentience (Koch 2004: 9).

The likely reason is that they join together two different and independent premises. On one side, there is the premise that the mind is physical (which is likely true). On the other side, there is the premise that the mind must be inside one's body (unfounded and likely false).

Only because they are taken as a whole, one gets to the conclusion that the mind, if physical, has to be neural. This is, of course, a mistake.

Riccardo Manzotti, 27 January 2015