Other Minds

Audronė Žukauskaitė

Even if the notions of consciousness and mind are often used as proof of human exceptionalism, there are many intermediary zones which reveal that the distinction between conscious and non-conscious, mental and cerebral activities is far from clear. On the one hand, consciousness can be attributed not only to the human mind, but to the capacities of different organisms, for example, the capacity to adapt to the environment. Raymond Ruyer’s philosophy of biology defines any organism by its capacity of self-survey, which helps the organism to stay in immediate contact with itself. Thus, for Ruyer, each organism possesses a primary consciousness, which is expressed as a certain cognition, initiative and inventiveness. On the other hand, there are many non-conscious activities that take place in the human. Catherine Malabou examines those areas of neuronal and affective plasticity, which are not governed by consciousness and mind, and which reveal the non-subjective side of subjectivity. Malabou is interested in specific cases that disrupt the continuity between cerebral auto-affection and subjective auto-affection, such as brain lesions or neurological diseases. Both cases reveal the existence of other minds that express the “bare activity” common to all living beings.