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The Neurological Turn: Top-Down or Bottom-Up? (April 2023): Conclusion

By Heidi Storl


Whether approached bottom up or top down, the neurological turn has driven neurobiological, neurocognitive, and neurophilosophical insights to new heights, but also into terrain that challenges the very core of our self-understanding. It is no longer inconceivable that who we are as neurobiologically understood humans will invite if not force us to recognize species-specific ways of knowing that merge with the environment in ways far more profound than ever before imagined.  Neuroscientist David Eagleman addresses these matters in The Brain and Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain, and he suggests in the last chapter of his recent Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain that “to know oneself may require a change of definition of ‘to know.’ Knowing yourself now requires the understanding that the conscious you occupies only a small room in the mansion of the brain, and that it has little control over the reality constructed for you. The invocation to know thyself needs to be considered in new ways.”

This essay has considered some of the avenues available to us and also some of the moral and ethical implications of moving too swiftly. In the end, the truths we learn about ourselves may rattle our most deeply held intuitions while simultaneously offering humbling insights into the true nature of self. 

Works Cited