We Are Not Our Brains

By Heidi Klessig, M.D.

In my book, The Brain Death Fallacy, I quote neurologist James Bernat: “How the brain generates conscious awareness remains the most intractable mystery of and the greatest remaining challenge to neuroscience. As of 2018, neuroscientists have mapped many of the important connections necessary for human consciousness, but the essential neurophysiological and neurophilosophical problem of how brain tissue yields human subjective experience remains almost completely unknown.”

In Consciousness and Human Identity, philosopher Jerry Fodor puts it more bluntly, “Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. So much for the philosophy of consciousness.”

The traditional view of humankind is that we have a dual nature as a body-spirit unity. We have a physical body which is directed by an immaterial soul or spirit. Very few people are pure materialists, believing we are just “meat in motion.” But strangely, the notion continues that with just a little more research, we will discover how the physical brain imagines, rejoices, fears, or is ashamed. And the relatively new concept of “brain death” is the result of equating people with their physical brains. If we are our brains, when our brains stop functioning, we cease to exist.

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