A philosopher friend of mine just had her book reviewed. The questions here about split brains, the mind, and the soul touches on questions of AI and some recent exchanges here. What do you think? If we divide the brain, do we have two minds?
Though the literature is now large and sophisticated, Elizabeth Schechter’s is the first book-length treatment of the problem by a philosopher (though Marks 1981 is a short monograph published in book form). Schechter rethinks the issues carefully from the ground up, and makes connections to a range of other questions in the philosophy of mind. She defends a “two subjects” view: within the body of a split-brain patient, in at least some cases, two experiencing subjects exist. She combines this with the claim that a split-brain patient is just one person ; those two units need not line up in a simple way. In this review, I will concentrate on the two-subjects claims, Schechter’s treatment of what has traditionally been seen as the main question in this area.
Schechter has written an exceptionally good book. Its particular virtues are the care and rigor with which arguments are developed. The book seems to lack a single superficial moment. It also feels rather long and dense. Schechter makes use of a considerable amount of neurobiological detail, not all of which is made accessible to the non-expert – this is as much a cognitive science book as a philosophy book. Though it is not especially easy once one arrives at the central chapters, the book remains more readable than it might have been, because Schechter’s writing is very appealing – deft and stylish, in an understated way. This may help keep you going as you make your way through a lot of argument. The book seems to me an exemplary piece of naturalistic philosophy of mind.
Curious @Faizal_Ali’s thoughts on this…