Inventing the Self

Alva Noe

September 24th, 2013 by Samantha Gamble · 2 Comments


Noe asks “are you your brain?” If we are not our brain, then our consciousness should live on once our brain dies. In the video Alva Noe stated that the “brain is a part of a dynamic network, brain, body, environment, that allows us to achieve consciousness.” Although I agree with Noe’s theory that that our body and environment help form who we are, I do not agree that consciousness is not located in the brain. I believe that his argument is flawed because he gives no real scientific evidence that supports his theory. To me, his argument is a lot like believing in GOD, you have to have blind faith.

Where Damasio’s argument that consciousness is in our brain left me intrigued and wanting to look more into his research of how different regions of the brain controlled different parts of us, Noe’s argument left me with questions that his argument could not answer. Why are psychiatric drugs able to alter or moods and personalities? Why are some people not always able to control our moods and behaviors? Why can a “normal” functioning adult begin functioning at the level of a child after a brain injury?

However, I believe that Noe has a valid point when he says that in order to make headway in research on what consciousness is scientist need to expand beyond the brain.  Expanding the research may give more insight into the mystery that is our consciousness.




Tags: Uncategorized

2 responses so far ↓

  • Jason Scaglione // Sep 24th 2013 at 3:35 pm

    “Although I agree with Noe’s theory that that our body and environment help form who we are, I do not agree that consciousness is not located in the brain.”

    Here is drawn a distinction between ‘consciousness’ and ‘identity’. That is interesting! The two are often equated, but maybe there is something to say about their decoupling.

    Is ‘who we are’ an identity distinct from our ‘consciousness’?

    But identifying consciousness squarely with the brain returns us to the “brain in a vat” problem. It seems like quite a leap of faith as well to believe that your consciousness would be held constant were your brain simply transferred into a special brain-supporting housing.

  • Gabriel R. Seijo // Sep 24th 2013 at 11:11 pm

    It’s not only that his argument is flawed by the lack of scientific knowledge; it’s mostly too sporadic, his jumping from one sort-of-related-in-a-way argument to the other creates almost a complete lack of a linear construction to his points of view. Almost every section within the chapters ends with him letting the reader now that whatever has been argued in the present section, will be further explained in the next. Almost as if he’s trying to sell a product nobody wants to buy. The narrative created for me the actual feeling of being in a hurry, so much information that can seem almost random is being blurted out as if he had a two week deadline in order for the book to be published. Which is astonishing when he is suggesting a hypothesis that makes a lot of sense, establishing consciousness as an event that requires the integration of body, mind, and environment, something that would make one expect a rigorous and well-structured argument.

Skip to toolbar