2018-02Thematic Section
Consciousness, Culture, and the Brain


Human consciousness is a phenomenon that occurs not only in the brain but also in an external network, a symbolic system. This symbolic system is defined as an exocerebrum. The exocerebrum is a system of artificial cultural prostheses that substitute functions the brain cannot carry out through exclusively biological means. The exocerebrum is a symbolic system that substitutes the cerebral circuits that are incapable by themselves of completing functions that are characteristic of human mental behavior. The brain is not capable of processing symbols without the help of an external system essentially made up of speech, symbols, the non-discursive forms of communication (such as music, dance, and painting), and the exterior artificial memories (from writing to the Internet). We are in the presence of a continual spectrum, one in which there is no need to draw a dividing line between the brain and the exocerebrum, between the neuronal circuits and the cultural prostheses.


exocerebrum, brain, consciousness, symbolic prostheses, philosophy of mind

How to cite:

Bartra, Roger. “Consciousness, Culture, and the Brain.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 2, no. 2(4) (2018): 100–114. https://doi.org/10.26319/4719.


Roger Bartra
Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva s/n Ciudad de la Investigación en Humanidades, Ciudad Universitaria, C. P. 04510, Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, Mexico.


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