A Critique of Neuroscience-The New Philosophy
The discourse, Neuroscience-The New Philosophy, by V.S Ramachandran, illustrates Ramachandran’s viewpoints on neuroscience. In the discussion, Ramachandran delves on discovering reasons as to why particular patients have specific kinds of symptoms when faced with mental illnesses and the reason for their differences across diverse mental illnesses. In addition, Ramachandran explains how indispensable formations and structures within the brain can lead to peculiar behaviors in mental infirmity. The discourse mainly focuses on three approaches based on mental illnesses. These approaches include the effect of chemical imbalances, the Darwinian or Neuropsychiatry approach and the Freudian approach. The discourse offers a different viewpoint on mental illness. It also provides a deep insight and provides explanations on mental infirmity. Thus, assessing the article provides the basis for critiquing Ramachandran’s discussion on mental illness.
Much of Ramachandran’s discourse is centered on the disposition of consciousness. He does this by assessing a number of mental states and anomalies that are abnormal and some that are deemed as similar to madness. Additionally, assessment of the different mental infirmities provides foundation in recognizing the brain imaging. Through imaging, knowledge is gained on how the brain functions. To illustrate this, Ramachandran uses a disorder such as hysteria. Based on medical connotations, hysteria illustrates a condition where the patient, in the event of developing a paralysis of a leg or an arm or blindness, possesses null neurological deficits that could be reason for his symptoms. Through this disorder, imaging is used to determine the normal function of the brain by recognizing that the brain is actually ordinary. Additionally, imaging has provided knowledge on the sections of the brain that are active or inactive when a specific action or mental process is carried out.
Secondly, Ramachandran focuses on the aspect of free will. By using hysteria as an example, the disorder is viewed as an abnormality of free will thus confirming that hysteria is purely due to psychological defects. In the discourse, free will is deemed as a delusion and an irrelevant explanation on the functions of the brain. Based on experiments conducted on free will such as the EEG experiment, it was discovered that the brain sends signals earlier before a person expresses the will to engage in the specific process. Such a discovery only discredits the philosophical principle of free will. Equally, free will illustrates the ability of agents to make decisions unrestricted by definite factors such as mental constraints. However, the fact that consciousness does not determine other actions performed by an agent only exemplifies free will as an illusion.
Finally, Ramachandran discusses the Sense of Self. Based on Ramachandran’s assertions, mental illnesses can be seen as disturbances or impairments of the self and consciousness. However, using the insinuations, ‘consciousness’ and ‘self’, Ramachandran alleges that explaining mental illnesses using such assertions is ignorant. In order to explain the problem arising from definition of the self, the author uses the problem of qualia. Qualia are simply subjective sensations. Thus, through the awareness of sensations, the constituents of the consciousness and the self are attached to neuroscience. Ramachandran is able to use qualia in determining the locations in the brain and the functions that enable derivation as well as the qualities that constitute the Sense of Self.
In conclusion, Ramachandran borders on various approaches and even constitutes a supplementary approach in order to explain the nature of self. Various factors that comprise the Sense of Self such as consciousness and free will are controversial fields that blur the line between neurology and philosophy. Nevertheless, it is evident that uncovering consciousness in the context of mental illness is a problem that is difficult to ascertain in the field of neuroscience.