Phantomology: from soul to brain. Medieval Studies meets Neuroscience
Paper by Alastair Minnis and Peter Brugger
Given at the University of York on October 18, 2022
Abstract: This joint lecture investigates what the speakers are calling ‘phantomology’, ranging from medieval theology to modern neuroscience. Alastair Minnis explains how St Augustine and some successors argued for the existence of a body-in-the-soul, as revealed in out-of-body experiences (OBEs). Some thinkers believed that this explained how, after death, people could continue to experience pain (in hell and purgatory) or pleasure (in heaven). Peter Brugger proceeds to delineate stages of modern ‘soul research’, defining phantomology as the science of the body-in-the-brain, i.e. of a representation of corporeality as manifesting in phantom limbs, phantom doubles, and ‘phantom vision’ in OBEs. Neuroimaging studies is also considered, but clinical observations are emphasized. In this way, Medieval Studies is put in a creative conversation with contemporary neuroscience and clinical practice.