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Anthroposophy and Science

An Introduction

Peter Heusser

This book is the first thorough introduction into the scientific basis of anthroposophy and anthroposophical medicine in the context of academic science. On a sound epistemological basis and in the context of current debates it analyses basic concepts of physics, chemistry, genetics, morphogenesis, biology, neurobiology, psychology, and philosophy of mind, with an emphasis on the problems of life, mind-body interactions, and free will. The result is a non-reductionistic anthropology acknowledging the emergent properties of body, life, soul, and spirit as equally real entities. This concurs with the basic concepts of anthroposophy and anthroposophical medicine, the justification of which is discussed in relation to the history and methodology of science as well as evidence based medicine.
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5 Neurobiology, psychology and philosophy of mind: the reality of the soul and spirit


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5  Neurobiology, psychology and philosophy of mind: the reality of the soul and spirit

5.1  Neurobiology and the emergence of consciousness. Is the soul real?

Animals and human beings differ from plants and microorganisms not only on account of their typically different physical structure and their polar respiratory physiology (consumption instead of production of oxygen) but particularly due to the possession of a psychological inner life and consciousness. And the bodily functions and structures centred on the nervous system are organised specifically towards the exercise and service of this inner life. There is therefore a fundamental distinction between the life of animals and humans and that of plants and minerals, so that it is justified in viewing the world of animate beings as a kingdom of nature in its own right.

Consciousness is an emergent phenomenon distinct from the living body, just as life is in comparison to the purely material realm. This means that, contrary to widespread opinion, the organism and the nerve-sense system is not the cause of consciousness, but merely the necessary condition for its appearance. However, according to the findings of modern neurobiology and psychology, this condition is such that specific states of consciousness can be assigned to specific processes in the brain107 (Cleeremans, 2005; Roth, 2007) so that, up to a point, conclusions can be drawn about the presence and nature of the contents of consciousness based on defined neural processes (Haynes & Rees, 2006)...

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