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Healing the ‘Split’ between science and the humanities.


Posted May 1, 2012 by Bernard J. Baars, PhD


or almost 100 years (since Wm James) the social sciences have ignored, suppressed, and neglected personal consciousness.

Everybody has a mind and a brain, but we have a tendency to divide the world between the two. Half of the content words in English are “mind words” — they refer to conscious experiences, like seeing, hearing, understanding; acting, deciding and willing; loving, hating and forgiving. But since 1900 scientists in psychology, biology, and education tried to reduce mind words to physical words. With the rise of methods to observe the living brain in more and more depth and detail, we can now see neural activity revealing how the brain makes mind possible. The old-fashioned argument of mind versus brain is gone.

But we aren’t yet used to thinking that our mind-brain is one, single, organic unity. MBSci believes that the old mind-body split is dehumanizing, as if we can think about human beings as nothing but objects-in-the-world, rather than being feeling, experiencing, and willing minds. We are both.

The goal of MBSci is to support education, communication and participation in the emerging, unified mind-brain sciences. Thus we believe that humanists, artists and musicians stand on an equal basis with psychologists, brain scientists, and biologists. The split between science and art is imaginary. We learn from each other.

Natalie Geld and Bernard Baars, MBSci co-founders, have pursued this vision for years, with enthusiastic support from others.

For 24 centuries before that (in Western and Asian history) consciousness was at the very center of human concerns.

In science today we are in a comeback, but the curriculum and the institutions are still behind.

It’s high time to heal the split between the two cultures of “mind” vs. “brain” education.

Bernard J. Baars, PhD

Bernard J. Baars, PhD is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at The Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA., and is currently an Affiliated Fellow there. He is best known as the originator of the global workspace theory, a theory of human cognitive architecture and consciousness widely cited in philosophical & scientific sources. He previously served as a professor of psychology at the State University of New York, Stony Brook where he conducted research into the causation of the Freudian slip, and as a faculty member at the Wright Institute.Bernard is interested in human language, and the psychology and brain basis of conscious experience.