Brain and Mind

  • James Russell


The pancreas is the organ which secretes insulin into the blood and digestive juices into the duodenum; the brain is the organ of the mind. But can we reduce mental functions to physical functions in the same way that we can reduce a flow-chart description of the jobs done by the pancreas to the actual bio-chemical processes undergone by the organ when it does them? Can we reduce psychological theories to physiological theories; can we, indeed, replace psychological theories by physiological theories? The questions I will be asking in this chapter — and, in good company, failing to answer — all concern the issue of whether there is something special about the mental functions which ensures that they can never be fully explained in terms of in the brain.


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    See, for example, R. Rorty, ‘In defence of eliminative materialism’, Review of Metaphysics, 1970, 24, pp. 112–21.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Eysenck’s discussion of the status of his theory in R. Borger and F. Cioffi (eds) Explanation in the Behavioural Sciences (Cambridge University Press, 1970).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Austen Clark, Psychological Models and Neural Mechanisms (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    See the review by J. Maj, ‘Antidepressant drugs: will new findings change the present theories of their action?’ Trends in Pharmacological Studies, 1981, pp. 80–3.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    J. Vetulani, R. J. Stawarz, J. V. Dingell and P. Surser, ‘A possible common mechanism of action of antidepressant drugs’, Naunyn Schmiedebers Arch Pharmak, 1976, 293, p. 109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 7.
    A. R. Green and D. W. Costain (eds) Pharmacology and Biochemistry of Psychiatric Disorders (New York: Wiley, 1981) p. 87.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    For a review of the evidence see R. Finlay-Jones, ‘Showing that life events are a cause of depression–a review’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 1981, 15, pp. 229–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 10.
    M. Seligman, Helplessness (San Francisco: Freeman, 1975).Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    H. S. Akiskal and W. T. McKinney, Jr., ‘Depressive disorders: towards a unified hypothesis’, Science, 1973, 182, pp. 20–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 13.
    J. J. Schildkraut and S. S. Kety, ‘Biogenic amines and emotion’, Science, 1967, vol. 156, pp. 21–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 14.
    See my trilogy of papers: ‘Action from knowledge and conditioned behaviour: Part One: the stratification of behaviour’, Behaviourism, 1980, 8, pp. 87–98. ‘Action from knowledge and conditioned behaviour: Part Two: criteria for epistemic behaviour’, Behaviourism, 1980, 8, pp. 133–48. ‘Action from knowledge and conditioned behaviour: Part Three: the human case’, Behaviourism, 1981, 9, pp. 107–26.Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    Jerry Fodor, The Language of Thought (Brighton: Harvester, 1976).Google Scholar
  13. 24.
    T. Honderich, ‘Psychophysical lawlike connections and their problem’, Inquiry 1981, pp. 277–303, at p. 292.Google Scholar
  14. 27.
    S. P. Stich, ‘On the relation between occurrents and contentful mental states.’ Inquiry, 1981, pp. 353–8.Google Scholar
  15. 28.
    J. L. Mackie, ‘The efficacy of consciousness: comments on Honderich’s paper’, Inquiry 1981, pp. 343–51. (Extract from p. 350.)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© James Russell 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Russell
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LiverpoolEngland

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