Analytical Essay on the Faculties of the Soul, by Charles Bonnet
Some later authors were more explicit as to the brain’s role and emphasized the union of soul and brain as requirement for personal identity. Thus, in his Analytical Essay on the Faculties of the Soul (1760, §771), the Genevan naturalist and philosopher Charles Bonnet (1720–1793) wrote, “If a Huron’s soul could have inherited Montesquieu’s brain, Montesquieu would still create."
The native North American was an Enlightenment paradigm of the savage, yet if his soul were joined to Montesquieu’s brain, then one of the era’s greatest thinkers would, for intellectual purposes at least, be still alive. It did not matter that the soul and body were those of a “primitive,” provided the brain was the philosopher’s own. In short, the conviction that the brain is the only organ indispensable for personal identity emerged independently or, at most, marginally connected to empirical neuroscientific advances. Bonnet’s 1760 statement about Montesquieu and the Huron declares exactly the same thing as Puccetti’s aphorism of 1969, “Where goes a brain, there goes a person,” or Gazzaniga’s confident assertion of 2005, “you are your brain.”