Avicenna’s Ideas and Arguments about Mind and Brain Interaction

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Mohammad Jamali, Mehdi Golshani, Yousef Jamali

Subject: Arts & Humanities, Philosophy

Keywords: mind brain interaction, Avicenna, consciousness, cognition, incorporeity of mind, mind matter interaction

Mind and brain/matter interaction is one of the important and controversial issues in Islamic philosophy. In fact, in the resources of Islamic philosophy, one of the basic parts of philosophical discussions is related to mind’s nature and its interaction with the brain. Especially, in Avicenna’s philosophy, there are many articles and books which have addressed the topic of mind and brain and the relation between them. Avicenna was a profound philosopher, an expert physicist and a proficient physician of his time. Because of his experimental proficiency in medicine and surgery and his deep philosophical analysis, his discussion about mind and brain is very interesting for our time, due to recent advances in neuroscience. In this article, we have explained one of Avicenna’s arguments (in his famous opus “al-Isharat”) about the incorporeity of mind (self), which is very close to modern neuroscience and physics literature. In addition, we explain his model of mind and brain interaction. Avicenna described the mechanism of the causal effect of mind on the brain via a third identity, which works as an interface between them (in his main book “al-Shifa”). We try to illustrate his model by the use of some examples, inspired from modern physics. Also, we explore the philosophical constraints which must be considered in any model of mind-matter interaction, within the Islamic philosophy framework. In fact, we propose a new understanding of Avicenna’s philosophy which is in agreement with modern physics and neuroscience.


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