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Ecology of the Brain


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Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgements Introduction Part 1: Criticism of neurobiological reductionism 1 Cosmos in the head? 1.1 The idealistic legacy of brain research 1.2 First criticism: embodied perception 1.2.1 Perception and motion 1.2.2 The coextension of lived body and physical body 1.3 Second criticism: The objectivity of the phenomenal world 1.3.1 The space of perception 1.3.2 The objectivising achievement of perception 1.4 Third criticism: the reality of colours 1.5 Summary 2 The brain as the subjects heir? 2.1 First critique: the irreducibility of subjectivity 2.1.1 Phenomenal consciousness 2.1.2 Intentionality Intentionality and phenomenal consciousness Intentionality and representation 2.2 Second criticism: category mistakes 2.2.1 The mereological fallacy 2.2.2 The localisation fallacy 2.3 Third criticism: the powerless subject? 2.3.1 The unity of action 2.3.2 The role of consciousness 2.4 Summary: the primacy of the lifeworld Part 2: Body, person, and the brain 3 Foundations: subjectivity and life 3.1 Embodied subjectivity 3.1.1 The body as subject 3.1.2 The dual aspect of subjective and physical body 3.1.3 The dual aspect of life 3.2 Ecological and enactive biology 3.2.1 Self-organisation and autonomy 3.2.2 Dependency and exchange between organism and environment 3.2.3 Subjectivity 3.2.4 Summary 3.3 The circular and integral causality of living beings 3.3.1 Vertical circular causality 3.3.2 Horizontal circular causality 3.3.3 Integral causality and its basis in capacities 3.3.4 The formation of capacities through body memory 3.3.5 Summary 4 The brain as organ of the living being 4.1 The brain in the context of the organism 4.1.1 The inner milieu 4.1.2 The feeling of being alive 4.1.3 Higher levels of consciousness 4.1.4 Embodied affectivity 4.1.4 Summary 4.2 The unity of brain, organism and environment 4.2.1 Linear versus circular organism-environment-relations 4.2.2 Consciousness as integral 4.2.3 Neuroplasticity and the incorporation of experience 4.2.4 Transformation and transparency: the brain as resonance organ 4.2.5 Information, representation and resonance Information Representation Patterns and resonance 4.2.6 Conclusion: mediated immediacy 5 The brain as organ of the person 5.1 Primary intersubjectivity 5.1.1 Prenatal development 5.1.2 Intercorporeality and interaffectivity 5.1.3 Intercorporeal memory 5.2 Neurobiological foundations 5.2.1 The attachment system 5.2.2 The social resonance system (mirror neurons) Foundations Simulation or resonance? 5.3 Secondary intersubjectivity 5.3.1 The nine-month revolution 5.3.2 The embodied development of language Language as social practice Neurobiological foundations 5.3.3 Outlook: language, thought and perspective-taking 5.4 Summary: brain and culture 6 The concept of dual aspectivity 6.1 Mental, physical and life attributes 6.2 Differentiation from identity theories 6.3 Emergence 219 6.3.1 The primacy of function 219 6.3.2 Downward causality and dual aspectivity 6.4 Consequences for psychophysical relations 6.4.1 Intentional and psychological determination of physiological processes 6.4.2 Embodied freedom A phenomenology of decision-making Free will and integral causality 6.4.3 Psychosomatic and somatopsychic interrelations 6.5 Summary 7 Implications for psychiatry and psychological medicine 7.1 Neurobiological reductionism in psychiatry 7.2 Mental disorders as circular processes 7.2.1 Vertical circularity 7.2.2 Horizontal circularity 7.2.3 Synopsis 7.3 Circular causality in pathogenesis 7.3.1 Etiology of depression 7.3.2 The development of vulnerability 7.3.3 Summary 7.4 Circular processes in therapy 7.4.1 Somatic therapy 7.4.2 Psychotherapy 7.4.3 Comparison of therapeutic approaches 7.5 Summary: the role of subjectivity 8 Conclusion 8.1 Brain and person 8.2 The scope of neurobiological research 8.3 Naturalistic versus personalistic concept of the human being References Register

About the Author

Thomas Fuchs, MD, PhD, is Karl Jaspers Professor of Philosophy and Psychiatry at Heidelberg University, Germany. His main areas of expertise include phenomenological philosophy and psychopathology as well as embodied and enactive cognitive science, with a particular emphasis on non-representational, interactive concepts of social cognition. He was Coordinator and Principal Investigator of several large national and international grants, among them the European Research Training Network Towards an Embodied Science of Intersubjectivity (TESIS, 2011-2016). He has authored over 300 journal articles, book chapters and several books. He is also co-editor of Psychopathology and editorial board member of 4 scientific journals.


Ecology of the Brain is a far-reaching book that touches on multiple topics and can be taken from many different directions ... a valuable contribution to the field of psychological medicine. * Susana Ramirez-Vizcaya, The Journal of Mind and Behavior *
Thomas Fuchs ... presents a brilliant review of literature integrating phenomenological philosophy, biology, and complex systems theory to argue for an ecological view of the mind and brain as being embedded in the relation of the living organism and its environment. ... Dr. Fuchs' work is astute, incisive, integrative, and provocative. * Susan Gordon, The Humanistic Psychologist *
Thomas Fuchs's work Ecology of the Brain is a unique, critically sharp contribution. It is marked with fascinating and paradigmatic interdisciplinary integration of philosophical reflexion and impressive range of neuroscientific knowledge, exceeding the often narrow, reductive and mono-perspective - "exact" - scientific thinking, to represent a phenomenological approach for the future interdisciplinary studies on brain and mind. * Luka Janes, Synthesis Philosophica *
This volume will not only be relevant to researchers interested in the philosophy of mind and the role to be played by the human sciences in this domain, but it will also be a valuable addition to any psychiatric training program. * Anya Daly, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences *
[we] owe a debt of gratitude to Fuchs, and to Merleau-Ponty, for so compellingly restoring a solid foundation for continued phenomenological research, and compassionate care, in the face of increasing efforts to reconceptualize both the self and subjectivity as empty illusions. * Larry Davidson, Journal of Phenomenological Psychology *
Ecology of the brain supports a clear shift from a naturalistic to a personalistic concept of the human being in neuroscience especially. This requires a "cultural biology", as Fuchs puts it, and opens up new opportunities for the study of how we enact life in a shared social world. * Alfonsina Scarinzi, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology *
Ecology of the brain is a recommended reading not only for everyone interested in psychology, neurosciences, psychopathology and so forth, but also for anyone interested in theoretical philosophy today. * Diego DAngelo, Universitat Koblenz-Landau, Phenomenlogical Reviews *

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