Cojoint twins and the philosophy of the mind

Author: David ,

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  • David
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    David
    I've been thinking a lot recently of the philosophy of the mind and whether the mind and the brain are synonymous or if there is an immaterial aspect of the brain. I came across a fascinating story of twins that share a brain.
    Here's
    some key takeaways from the articles that I read:


    Twins joined at the head — the medical term is craniopagus — are one in 2.5 million, of which only a fraction survive. The way the girls’ brains formed beneath the surface of their fused skulls, however, makes them beyond rare: their neural anatomy is unique, at least in the annals of recorded scientific literature. Their brain images reveal what looks like an attenuated line stretching between the two organs, a piece of anatomy their neurosurgeon, Douglas Cochrane of British Columbia Children’s Hospital, has called a thalamic bridge, because he believes it links the thalamus of one girl to the thalamus of her sister. The thalamus is a kind of switchboard, a two-lobed organ that filters most sensory input and has long been thought to be essential in the neural loops that create consciousness. Because the thalamus functions as a relay station, the girls’ doctors believe it is entirely possible that the sensory input that one girl receives could somehow cross that bridge into the brain of the other. One girl drinks, another girl feels it.
    Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/magazine/could-conjoined-twins-share-a-mind.html

    So here's the obvious philosophical problem and question: If they share a mind, are they one person with two bodies or are they two people with one brain? It appears the latter is the case. This, in my opinion, is pretty strong evidence of Mind-Body Dualism. While they share a material brain and can feel each other's thoughts, they are two different people with different people and think abstractly.

  • keithprosser
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    --> @David
    My reading is they don't share a mind - they are two people.   There is communication between their brains via a shared structure so stimuli applied to one twin can be sensed by the other.

    Given how badly the relationship between brain and mind is understood in normal circumstances, I don't see how this makes the case for mind-body dualism any stronger or weaker.

  • IlDiavolo
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    Mind is just an abstract term that is used to understand the individual in terms of conciousness. As far as I can see, the two girls are independent persons so they have their own mind. The brain is only material that is used as a tool for the person. There have been cases in which people lost half their brains and however they were still capable to be concious.