Non-Reductive Neurophilosophy – What Is It and How It Can Contribute To Philosophy


  • Georg Northoff Georg Northoff, University of Ottawa, Canada



What is neurophilosophy? Different variants of connecting neuroscience and philosophy emerged in recent years. Besides reductive, parallelistic, and neurophenomenological variants, we here focus on Non-Reductive Neurophilosophy (NRNP) as introduced by the author of this paper. NRNP can methodologically be characterized by the inclusion of multiple domains (ontological, epistemological, empirical, etc.) and various methodological strategies (like logical-conceptual and observational-experimental) – this amounts to domain pluralism and method pluralism. That is combined with an iterative methodological movement between the different domains and, specifically conceptual and empirical domains resulting in concept-fact iterativity. Such non-reductive neurophilosophical approach can make major contributions to both neuroscience and philosophy. Concerning the latter, we demonstrate how a non-reductive neurophilosophical approach allows taking into view a deeper neuro-ecological and spatiotemporal layer of Martin Heidegger’s Fundamental ontology and its “being in the world”. This may also require a more fundamental approach to consciousness in both its phenomenological features and neural basis – this has recently been proposed in the “Temporo-spatial theory of consciousness” (TTC). In sum, due to its particular methodological strategy, NRNP allows providing a broader more comprehensive framework to philosophical problems like subjectivity, consciousness, and mind-body problem (and various others). Moreover, NRNP may provide a novel deeper framing and reading of historical authors (like Kant, Heidegger, Whitehead, etc.) which may allow to connect them to current and systematic philosophical and even neuroscientific issues.


neurophilosophy, neurophenomenology, Non-Reductive Neurophilosophy, Temporo-spatial theory of consciousness, mind-body problem, Merleau-Ponty


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Author Biography

Georg Northoff, Georg Northoff, University of Ottawa, Canada

Georg Northoff, MD, PhD is EJLB-CIHR Michael Smith Chair in Neurosciences and Mental Health and holds a Canada Research Chair for Mind, Brain Imaging and Neuroethics at the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR). He completed his initial training in medicine/psychiatry and philosophy in Germany. Dr. Northoff's previous academic positions included Professorships at the University of Magdeburg, Germany, and Harvard University, U.S.A. With over 100 scientific publications, his current focus is predominantly on the self - having developed the concept of cortical midline structures. Experimental research within his unit focuses on the functional and biochemical mechanisms underlying our sense of self in both healthy subjects and psychiatric patients. In addition to neuroimaging, he also focuses on neuroethical issues. Early on, he investigated issues related to personal identity in patients with deep brain stimulation and brain tissue transplantation. Another neuroethical focus is on the impact of emotions and empathy in the decision making involved in informed consent, which is of particular relevance regarding psychiatric patients. Finally, these issues converge nicely with his deep standing interest in the discipline of neurophilosophy. He is considered one of the main founders from the European-continental side, as is illustrated by several papers and books including "Philosophy of the Brain" (2004). His latest book about the self is aimed at a general audience in which he frames the latest neuroscientific results and neurophilosophical reflections into the framework of a mystery novel.


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How to Cite

Northoff, G. (2022). Non-Reductive Neurophilosophy – What Is It and How It Can Contribute To Philosophy . Journal of NeuroPhilosophy, 1(1).