The philosophy of mind, neuroscience, psychology, Artificial Intelligence – all of these are connected, but how exactly? AI especially plays a big role in the modern world, but so do the other disciplines, so it’s worth looking closer at the connection between them and how they have developed together.
The philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that explores the very nature of the mind as well as its relationship with the body. Thus, the mind-body problem lies at the core of what the philosophy of mind is about. Most modern philosophers of mind believe that the mind is not separate from the body – this approach has been influential in other fields such as psychology, neuroscience, and AI.
Also known as neurophilosophy, the philosophy of neuroscience takes an interdisciplinary approach to studying neuroscience and philosophy. Neurophilosophy aims to explore the relevance of different neuroscientific studies to the topics usually studied as a part of the philosophy of mind. In practice, the philosophy of neuroscience utilizes methods of the philosophy of science to clarify neuroscientific methods.
To put it simply, the philosophy of psychology is concerned with exploring the different topics related to the theoretical foundations of modern psychology. Some of the most important questions in the philosophy of psychology are those on the nature of mind, brain, and cognition. As a result, it is closely related to the fields of neuroscience, the philosophy of mind, and AI.
A branch of the philosophy of technology, the philosophy of Artificial Intelligence studies AI and its relationship to ethics, consciousness, and intelligence among other things. Much like the abovementioned fields, the philosophy of Artificial Intelligence is closely related to the cognitive sciences. Interestingly, there are many divergent approaches to the field by the researchers, philosophers, and scientists working in it. Moreover, the AI community often dismisses philosophy as being an integral part of the field.
As you can see, all of these fields are concerned with the philosophical side of the mind, cognition, consciousness, and knowledge. Philosophers in these fields often study very similar topics and aim to answer interrelated questions about these issues. In fact, these fields overlap quite a lot and thus have developed together over time.
For example, let’s say there is a student who thinks at some point, “I want someone to write my paper for me because I am too busy with other responsibilities in my life.” The philosophers of these fields would be concerned with the reasons why the student actually had that thought, but the philosophers of Artificial Intelligence would also be exploring the possibilities to use this example in practice for AI.
Nevertheless, the roots of all these fields are not always as connected as they may seem. For instance, there was little interaction between neuroscience and cognitive science prior to the 1980s. Neuroscience itself wasn’t established as a discipline until 1971 while cognitive neuroscience emerged gradually between the 1950s and 1960s. Thus, the philosophy of neuroscience and other relevant fields emerged later.
There have been quite a few notable people working in these fields. Pete Mandik, Professor of Philosophy at William Paterson University in New Jersey, has made especially big contributions. He has been researching how the philosophy of mind and the cognitive sciences (neuroscience, psychology, and AI) are related to one another to better understand cognition and consciousness. His most well-known works are This Is Philosophy of Mind: An Introduction (2013) and Key Terms in Philosophy of Mind (2010) among others.