It’s hard to believe but even in our day and age, there are plenty of fairly distinguished philosophers who defend the existence of mental life after brain death. My neuroscience colleague Sonya Bahar and I have written a paper explaining why what we know about the brain makes a strong argument against the afterlife.
The paper is due at the end of this month for a volume edited by Keith Augustine. If anyone cares to take a look and tell us where we went wrong, we’d love to hear it. Please contact me and I’ll send you a copy of the paper.
Abstract: The paper samples the large body of neuroscientific evidence suggesting that each mental function takes place within specific neural structures. For instance, vision appears to occur in the visual cortex, motor control in the motor cortex, spatial memory in the hippocampus, and cognitive control in the prefrontal cortex. Evidence comes from neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neurochemistry, brain stimulation, neuroimaging, lesion studies, and behavioral genetics. If mental functions take place within neural structures, mental functions cannot survive brain death. Therefore, there is no mental life after brain death.