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30. The Philosophy of Dementia Stavros J. Baloyannis Professor Emeritus of Neurology Aristotelian University Thessaloniki, Greece
Philosophy, even from the era of pre-Socratic philosophers, has continuously been concerned with the mind and the interior life the human being, attempting to discover and analyze the real self, the consciousness, the thinking, the emotion, and the morality. The reasonable thinking (LógoV or Word) is one of the main issues of Philosophy even from the era of Heracletus, the first existential philosopher of the sixth century BC. The aim of life, as continuous effort for spiritual elevation was an important issue in Greek Philosophy. The importance of self-knowledge was highlighted persistently by Socrates and Plato as well as, many centuries later, by Kirkegaard and other existential philosophers. In the last fifty years, under the continuously ongoing research in the field of neurosciences, neurophilosophy emerged as a discipline of philosophy, of vital importance, which has begun to scrutinize whether the features of the mind, of the self, can be described in solely neurobiological terms, on the basis of the organized neuronal networks and their synapses or in a broader philosophical basis. Dementia is the end of the drama of the progressive decline of mental faculties. It is reasonable, that within the subject of neurophilosophy, dementia attracts the attention of many thinkers and neuroscientists who endeavour to find an explanation for that devastating process, which affects mental activities, personality and social behaviour, encapsulating the patients in their own being, in the form of an existential enclosing. However, the detailed observation and careful analysis of the life of many demented patients plead in favor of the fact that the fundamental moral principles and the dignity might remain unaffected and only the social being, based on the experience and the education and emerged in a social context carries the signs of the debilitating disease. In conclusion, we understand that the demented patient is still a person, who deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, respecting his interior life.
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