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Opatow, B. (1999). Affect and the Integration Problem of Mind and Brain. Neuropsychoanalysis, 1(1):97-110.

(1999). Neuropsychoanalysis, 1(1):97-110

Affect and the Integration Problem of Mind and Brain

Barry Opatow

The body cannot determine the mind to thought, neither can the mind determine the body to motion nor rest, nor to anything else, if there be anything else [Spinoza, Ethics III, Prop. 2].


For whom is there an integration problem of mind and brain? I mean the really important theoretical problem. Not the merely practical dilemmas attending the torments of hunger, sex, and the terror of death. If we, as theorists, take metaphysical monism as a regulatory principle for science, we say that mind and brain are ultimately one. We hold consciousness and matter to be the same thing, even though we do not know (nor can even imagine) how such identity could possibly be made intelligible (McGinn, 1991; Searle, 1992). How can subjective experience be explained in objective terms? Or, the question has been aptly put, how can technicolor phenomenology arise from soggy grey matter? (McGinn, 1991, p. 1). Or, how can the firing of C fibers be understood as, necessarily, pain? (Kripke, 1971). This basic oneness in nature becomes, we say, something frightfully difficult (Nagel, 1986), or the most vexing of all questions (Damasio, 1994), or the most difficult problem there is, or ever was (LeDoux, 1996), or the ultimate mystery (Edelman, 1992), only as we strive to apprehend it. The difficulty is posited to fall within us, in the limited capacity of our present conceptual resources. We willingly take on this deficiency in order to preserve a belief in the unity of Being and sustain the hope of a progressive unification of scientific knowledge.

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