“Past and present: a 19th-century debate on ‘the organ of mind’ as a possible source for the current debate on the neurobiological basis of consciousness”
What is the physical location of the mind? What is the physical basis of consciousness? What is the relationship between the concepts of mind and soul? How a 19th-century debate on the human brain within the context of evolution theory could have resource to ancient ideas on the relationship between mind and brain? This paper proposes a historical approach to these problems, together with a critical analysis of contemporary neuroscience problems, particularly, Francis Crick’s concepts of the neuro-biological basis of consciousness. The aim of the paper is threefold: 1) to recover a past épistème, namely, Thomas H. Huxley’s theory of consciousness which had come to be called “epiphenomenalism” on the context of a 19th-century debate on brain-mind causation; 2) to analyse the concept of epiphenomenalism as an organizing theory around which 19th-century debate on the human brain and current debate on the neuro-biological basis of consciousness are framed; and 3) to investigate the diachronic process of continuity and discontinuity of the term epiphenomenalism as a past and present concept.