Georg Northoff: The Self and its Brain


The ego of a person is central for its perception of the environment, including various cultures. In philosophy, the concept of the ego has been frequently discussed under the term “self” or “subject”. Recently, psychology and neuroscience have also begun to study the self. This gives rise to the question, to what extent the dependence of the self on a cultural context is mirrored in the neural activity of the brain. My contribution explores these findings and issues, and considers the self in the context of brain and culture. It concludes by discussing the implications of these results for our self-understanding as self, subject, and human being.

Prof. Dr. med. Dr. phil. Georg Northoff studied medicine and philosophy in Hamburg, Essen, Bochum, and New York. He was Professor of Neuropsychiatry and Neurophilosophy and Director of the Laboratory for Imaging and Neurophilosophy at the Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg. Since 2009, he holds the Chair of Mind, Brain, and Neuroethics Research at the University of Ottawa,Canada, which was created especially for him. Dr. Northoff’s goal is to establish neurophilosophy as a separate discipline that is independent from philosophy and neuroscience.