No. 12 (2017): New Trends in Philosophy
Submitted Contributions

Carving Mind at Brain’s Joints. The Debate on Cognitive Ontology

Marco Viola
IUSS Pavia and Vita-Salute San Raffaele University

Published 2017-08-09


  • philosophy of neuroscience,
  • philosophy of psychology,
  • cognitive ontology,
  • one-to-one mapping

How to Cite

Viola, M. (2017). Carving Mind at Brain’s Joints. The Debate on Cognitive Ontology. Phenomenology and Mind, (12), 162–172.


Since neuroimaging methods allow researchers to study the human brain at work, the vexed mind-brain problem ceased to be just a metaphysical issue, and became a practical concern for Cognitive Neuroscientists: how could they carve mind and brain into distinct entities, and what is the relation between these two sets? In this paper, I discuss the classical model of one-to-one mappings between mental and neural entities, inherited from phrenology, and make its assumptions explicit. I then examine the shortcomings of this “new phrenology”, and explore two solutions to them: the first accepts many-to-many mappings, whereas the second proposes a radically rethinking of the relata of this correspondence.


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