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The Table Video

Mark Baker& Gregg Ten Elshof

Brain Matters

Distinguished Professor of Linguistics, Rutgers University
CCT Scholar-in-Residence and Executive Board Member / Professor of Philosophy, Biola University
November 16, 2012

Mark Baker (Rutgers University) considers the function of the human brain. Just how much is the brain responsible for?


One often gets the impression in reading about these things that, though there may be some mysteries left over, one thing that has been established is that, our entire mental life is caused by the brain, whether or not it’s the same thing as, whether our minds are just the same thing as our brains. Surely everything that happens in our mind finds its cause in the brain. At least, this is the impression one gets. What do you make of that?

Sure. That’s the impression that one gets when one reads neuroscientists or cognitive scientists who would like more funding for what they do, which I understand that. But I think there’s kind of a fallacy that we can fall into here. So the brain does a lot of things, a lot of important things, no doubt about that. I think we know that.

And we know that every part of the brain does something. So I remember studying and hearing about injuries to different parts of the brain and thinking, where would I rather have my brain injury. And the answer is, there’s no good place to have a brain injury. But then I think you can go from a fallacy to that the brain does a lot and every part of the brain does something to the brain does everything.

And especially if you’re kind of in that, so you’re studying, your job is to study the brain. You’re used to framing questions in a certain way. You’re used to thinking of questions in a certain way. And the answers to all of those questions might be in the brain, but you forget that there’s a wider range of questions out there.