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New Bioeth. 2018 Jul;24(2):158-175. doi: 10.1080/20502877.2018.1438835. Epub 2018 Mar 5.

Framing the Mind-Body Problem in Contemporary Neuroscientific and Sunni Islamic Theological Discourse.

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a Department of Neurology, Western University of Health Science , Pomona , CA , USA.
b Barrett, The Honors College , Arizona State University , Tempe , AZ , USA.
c Department of Neurology , University of Wisconsin , Milwaukee , WI , USA.
d Department of Medicine and Initiative on Islam and Medicine , University of Chicago , Chicago , IL , USA.


Famously posed by seventeenth-century French philosopher René Descartes, the mind-body problem remains unresolved in western philosophy and science, with both disciplines unable to move convincingly beyond the dualistic model. The persistence of dualism calls for a reframing of the problem through interdisciplinary modes of inquiry that include non-western points of view. One such perspective is Islamic theology of the soul, which, while approaching the problem from a distinct point of view, also adopts a position commensurate with (substance) dualism. Using this point of convergence as a conceptual starting point, we argue that bringing into dialogue contemporary neuroscientific, philosophy of mind, and Sunni Islamic theological discourses may provide a fruitful way of reframing the age-old mind-body problem. This paper provides an overview of how these three discourses have approached the issue of the mind-body (-soul) problem. Juxtaposing these three discourses, we hope, may ignite further scholarly dialogue and investigation.


Sunni Islamic theology; consciousness; dualism; mind–body problem; neuroscience; soul

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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