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Consciousness is a Biological Problem

 
 
Reply Sun 10 May, 2009 09:12 pm
So I've always been curious as to why some people subscribe to the idea that the mind and brain are not connected. This has always puzzled me because I haven't really seen good, if any, evidence that the two are separate. Now, obviously from an ontological perspective the mind and brain are distinct but to go further and claim that the mind doesn't correspond to the brain seems unwarranted, to say the least. The opposing view (that the mind and brain are connected) seems quite obvious to me and I'll show why...

First example in support comes from everyday experience that anyone can test and experiment with, and that would be trauma of the brain. If you've ever been hit in the head really hard loss of consciousness can ensue. Now you may not want to be the test subject behind that particular experiment so a more painless way of testing this would be to play the 'pass-out game', which I'm sure most of you have heard of. All you do is breath really hard for about 30 seconds then have someone press against you neck to cut off circulation to your brain and tadah! you lose consciousness and pass-out.

Now the more serious examples come from neuroscience and neurosurgery. As unpleasant as it sounds, neurosurgery is conducted under local rather than general anesthesia because the brain lacks pain receptors, which means the subject is still awake when operated on. Stimulation of the brain led neurosurgery to considerable knowledge for mapping the functions of the brain. Localization of brain function began in the 1800s by Paul Brocawho connected language functions to the brain. Electrical stimulation of the motor cortex, performed by Fritsch and Hitzig, in rabbit and dog brain produced movement in the animals which furthered localization of functions within the brain. Additionally, neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield contributed a great deal of our understanding of the mapping of the brain. This list goes on and on, and such knowledge and understanding of the brain has produced ground-breaking machines like BCI's.

Finally, and I hope I'm not preaching to the choir when I say this, but look at drugs. If you still don't think the mind and brain are connected then why would neurotransmitters released and received in your synaptic gap cause distortion to your perception? Again, the connection seems obvious to me, but for those who prefer to avoid the razor the assumptions increase exponentially.

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The Alternative views:

Dualism which has been made famous by Descartes is the idea that there are two fundamental substances to reality--the physical and non-physical-and the non-physical mind (or consciousness or soul) should be distinguished from the brain. This led Descartes to believe that the mind could not only exist independent from the body but also that the pineal gland was the 'seat of the soul'.

Now the problem with this view is pretty much everything. First, the pineal gland is a light sensitive organ that releases melatonin and helps regulate your circadian rhythm. If the pineal gland was the place where 'it all came together' and is the 'seat of the soul' then this Cartesian Theater is easily shown fallacious by Daniel Dennett and is no better than the Homunculus Argument. To put it briefly, this view leads to an ad infinitum dilemma. The second problem comes from the interactionist perspective: How can a non-physical mind, that can exist independent of the body, interact with the physical at all? This problem still plagues the dualist's position.

Epiphenomenalism is another form of dualism in that it tries to solve the interactionist problem by posing that the mind cannot and does not interact with not only the brain/body but nothing at all! One can already see the flaws in this point of view in that we know that the mind affects the body. Intentionality, the placebo effect and neural plasticity are just a few examples I can think of off the top of my head. Also this claim does us no good in finding out a way to validate it because it is by definition outside of science. It would be just as equivalent if I claimed that there were 6 epiphenomenal gremlins in the cylinders of my car and since they dont interact with the car it would be as if they werent even there... See, there would be no way to falsify that claim. (Kudos to Dennett for that example). Epiphenomenalism and dualism can be re-stated as the 'ghost in the machine' which is not only fallacious but stops us in our tracks in continuing research.

Quantum Mind is the new-age theory that everyone seems to be conforming to. This is understandable because QM is very interesting and quite mind-blowing which leads a lot of pseudo-philosophers and 'scientists' to make radical claims that quantum mechanics has an important role in consciousness. It's also an attempt to 'save the soul' as some would say (aka Hameroff). However, the idea that the micro can affect the macro on such large scales as brain structures and neurons is utterly incoherent with little or no evidence in support. Entanglement is often cited as correlated with cellular activity but even if that were true diffusion and action potentials, which is the main mechanism for transferring information between neurons, would destroy superposition. "At the cellular level, the interaction of neurons is governed by classical physics." (Koch and Hepp 2006).

The 'Mereological Fallacy of Neuroscience' is a somewhat recent idea put forth by Maxwell Bennett and Peter Hacker which claims that neuroscientists are making conceptual mistakes about their findings. It goes a little further than that but that is the main idea being promoted by them. As much as I wanted to agree with them, and I do think they hit on some important topics, their claims were just as ridiculous as the former examples. Instead of contributing to the problem of consciousness they push it farther away, "The brain is not an organ of consciousness." (Hacker and Bennett). Well then where is consciousness located exactly? The best they could come up with is, "The location of the event of a person's thinking a certain thought is the place where the person is when the thought occurs to him." (Hacker and Bennett). Searle notices the same absurdness when he equates B and H's statement to: thoughts are occuring somewhere in this room. Again we arent progessing with theses types of views.

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I guess I've written enough. The main point of all this is to show that we need to treat consciousness as a biological problem, as Koch would say, because otherwise we are left with random claims that cannot be validated or falsified which in turn only impedes our progress at reaching our goal. Although, I'm only interested in the truth so if anyone has any good evidence that the brain and mind are not connected then by all means show. I'll be waiting but I doubt I'll be getting much responses. Thanks for reading.
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KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 10 May, 2009 10:53 pm
@Kielicious,
This may be under basic discussion on another thread--perhaps just below this one, after my having posted on this one--but it could also be that this could be seen as more focused on consciousness alone? Anyway, us neurons'll be firing (acting and reacting) on this one too.

One question, though--and this is by no means any condemnation. In that the font is not the usual, and the layout is quite nice and tight, and clean, I wonder if your OP, Kielicious, was a paste? or did you type it straight in?
0 Replies
 
New Mysterianism
 
  1  
Reply Sun 10 May, 2009 11:24 pm
@Kielicious,
Quote:

I guess I've written enough. The main point of all this is to show that we need to treat consciousness as a biological problem, as Koch woud say, because otherwise we are left with random claims that cannot be validated or falsified which in turn only impedes our progress at reaching our goal. Although, I'm only interested in the truth so if anyone has any good evidence that the brain and mind are not connected then by all means show. I'll be waiting but I doubt I'll be getting much responses. Thanks for reading.


It should come as no surprise to you that I subscribe to the "New Mysterian" position with respect to the Hard Problem of Consciousness. I've read Koch, and I think neuroscience in general has made some real progress in specifying the neural correlates of phenomenal experiences. That said, I can't imagine how a scientific understanding of neural correlation could bridge the epistemological gap between brain processes and phenomenal experiences. It's worth asking whether such a direction could really solve the mystery behind the psychophysical link.

This isn't an advocacy of dualism, mind you. Dualism is a dead-end, pure and simple, and no one can legitimately dispute that mental phenomena is completely dependent on the brain for its existence. Consciousness is a neurobiological problem, not a philosophical one; but it would be useful to acknowledge and curb the scientific hubris that has dominated our culture by seriously questioning whether neuroscience is equipped to solve the harm problem. Science has undoubtedly achieved wonderful things, but showing that science has constitutional limits helps qualify its image and status as something invincible and all-conquering. This is not a reason for accepting "New Mysterianism," of course, but rather a consequence of it, and a call for some intellectual modesty on our part. Maybe science just cannot explain how conscious experiences arise from brain matter, partly because the human brain is cognitively closed to fully understanding itself.
nameless
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 01:18 am
@Kielicious,
Kielicious;62360 wrote:
The main point of all this is to show that we need to treat consciousness as a biological problem, as Koch woud say, because otherwise we are left with random claims that cannot be validated or falsified which in turn only impedes our progress at reaching our goal.

And what goal is that? To categorize and compartmentalize everything that can be 'validated' and 'falsified'? What fun. Is that my goal also? How do we know that we have won? Nothing left of existence not properly/indisputably categorized and compartmentalized?
Many need that security in life (and, hence, validate and rationalize however necessary to maintain that obsolete materialist illusion); rules and categories and socks all properly matched... Works for some, obviously.
Consciousness cannot fit into your byte sized concepts and thoughts.
It cannot even be defined. It is ineffable.
I can call an apple Consciousness, and 'believe' it. That makes it 'truth'/reality for me.
"Consciousness is the Ground of All Being" (Copenhagen interpretation of QM), and that includes your tiny 'scientific method' (now mainly shown to be obsolete by QM). A "biological problem"? A 'belief'! There is no direct evidence of any (causal) connection between 'biology' and 'Consciousness'. Biology is only one tiny feature of the complete universe as 'perceived' in it's entirety by Consciousness.
Truth cannot be 'falsified'.
"There are trivial truths and there are great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true!" - Neils Bohr

Materialism, as a philosophy, has been refuted and obsolete for centuries (millennia, in the East). QM put the final nails in the coffin. Our children will be taught about our new world view as currently understood by our best scientific minds and they will share with their children, and we will die out...
There's a new world a'commin'! 'Bout time...
0 Replies
 
Kielicious
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 01:24 am
@New Mysterianism,
KaseiJin wrote:
This may be under basic discussion on another thread--perhaps just below this one, after my having posted on this one--but it could also be that this could be seen as more focused on consciousness alone? Anyway, us neurons'll be firing (acting and reacting) on this one too.

One question, though--and this is by no means any condemnation. In that the font is not the usual, and the layout is quite nice and tight, and clean, I wonder if your OP, Kielicious, was a paste? or did you type it straight in?


I typed it straight in from the top of my head. Well, to be honest it did take me a little while to type it and I did have to look up stuff for links but I didnt plagarize it if thats what you're implying. And yea Georgia font is easy on the eyes to me.


New Mysterianism wrote:
It should come as no surprise to you that I subscribe to the "New Mysterian" position with respect to the Hard Problem of Consciousness. I've read Koch, and I think neuroscience in general has made some real progress in specifying the neural correlates of phenomenal experiences. That said, I can't imagine how a scientific understanding of neural correlation could bridge the epistemological gap between brain processes and phenomenal experiences. It's worth asking whether such a direction could really solve the mystery behind the psychophysical link.

This isn't an advocacy of dualism, mind you. Dualism is a dead-end, pure and simple, and no one can legitimately dispute that mental phenomena is completely dependent on the brain for its existence. Consciousness is a neurobiological problem, not a philosophical one; but it would be useful to acknowledge and curb the scientific hubris that has dominated our culture by seriously questioning whether neuroscience is equipped to solve the harm problem. Science has undoubtedly achieved wonderful things, but showing that science has constitutional limits helps qualify its image and status as something invincible and all-conquering. This is not a reason for accepting "New Mysterianism," of course, but rather a consequence of it, and a call for some intellectual modesty on our part. Maybe science just cannot explain how conscious experiences arise from brain matter, partly because the human brain is cognitively closed to fully understanding itself.


I agree with pretty much everything you said.

The insurmountable task that neuroscience is faced with will put the field of study to the test and I wholly agree that from an ontological perspective neuroscience probably cannot solve the hard problem, but I'm an optimist so I think our best bet lies with them. I enjoy the Mysterianism perspective and understand where they are coming from. As for the AI people I havent made up my mind yet because since there is no way to identify that someone or something is conscious outside of your own first-person perspective 100%, I would wonder if the supposed 'conscious' machine is just mimicking conscious behavior or if it really is conscious....

---------- Post added at 12:39 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:24 AM ----------

nameless wrote:
And what goal is that? To categorize and compartmentalize everything that can be 'validated' and 'falsified'? What fun. Is that my goal also? How do we know that we have won? Nothing left of existence not properly/indisputably categorized and compartmentalized?
Many need that security in life (and, hence, validate and rationalize however necessary to maintain that obsolete materialist illusion); rules and categories and socks all properly matched... Works for some, obviously.
Consciousness cannot fit into your byte sized concepts and thoughts.
It cannot even be defined. It is ineffable.
I can call an apple Consciousness, and 'believe' it. That makes it 'truth'/reality for me.
"Consciousness is the Ground of All Being" (Copenhagen interpretation of QM), and that includes your tiny 'scientific method' (now mainly shown to be obsolete by QM). A "biological problem"? A 'belief'! There is no direct evidence of any (causal) connection between 'biology' and 'Consciousness'. Biology is only one tiny feature of the complete universe as 'perceived' in it's entirety by Consciousness.
Truth cannot be 'falsified'.
"There are trivial truths and there are great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true!" - Neils Bohr

Materialism, as a philosophy, has been refuted and obsolete for centuries (millennia, in the East). QM put the final nails in the coffin. Our children will be taught about our new world view as currently understood by our best scientific minds and they will share with their children, and we will die out...
There's a new world a'commin'! 'Bout time...



I understand where you are coming from, I too used to fight against science but seeing how its the best method we have what else is there to use? It seems you have some ideas in contrast with my post but I'm not a mind reader so if you think the mind and brain arent connected then share with the rest of us.

Edit: the goal is to unravel the mystery of consciousness.
validity
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 03:04 am
@Kielicious,
Kielicious wrote:
So I've always been curious as to why some people subscribe to the idea that the mind and brain are not connected.
Not having any specifics I will play a safe generalisation and guess it might be from the historical difficulties of objectively studying the mind eg technology, practical theory etc. An equally challenging difficulty for today is to determine if the mind actions the brain or the brain actions the mind. I think the downward causation camp has more range and scope.

Kielicious wrote:
All you do is breath really hard for about 30 seconds then have someone press against you neck to cut off circulation to your brain and tadah! you lose consciousness and pass-out.
Oh my! I have not heard of such a thing. It is moments like this I am glad to be somewhat mature enough to not attempt this. I urge young readers not to either!
Kielicious
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 03:50 am
@validity,
validity wrote:
Not having any specifics I will play a safe generalisation and guess it might be from the historical difficulties of objectively studying the mind eg technology, practical theory etc. An equally challenging difficulty for today is to determine if the mind actions the brain or the brain actions the mind. I think the downward causation camp has more range and scope.

Oh my! I have not heard of such a thing. It is moments like this I am glad to be somewhat mature enough to not attempt this. I urge young readers not to either!


Haha I should have put up a disclaimer.

As for downward causation I havent looked much into it but from what I have read of it I dont know how a new causal phenomenon can just appear out of nowhere. Maybe you can explain it better but to me its highly counter-intuitive to say the least.
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 08:51 am
@New Mysterianism,
Thanks for your response, Kielicious. Yes, I understand the looking up stuff--I have to do that too (usually not on line, though) and use my friendly dictionary to spell check...hee, hee, hee.

I'll try to tag along here as it goes. . . s I really love the subject area.


New Mysterianism;62373 wrote:
Consciousness is a neurobiological problem, not a philosophical one; but it would be useful to acknowledge and curb the scientific hubris that has dominated our culture by seriously questioning whether neuroscience is equipped to solve the harm problem.


I like the way you have worded that, NM (if I may). I might point out, at the same time, that we could probably say that this hard problem is a philosophical problem, really, and not one that is given much concern in the neurosciences (although you'll find plenty papers that mention it, site source material dealing with it, and so on).

The original wording, if my memory serves me well, on that hard problem was something along the lines of 'what it is like to be a bat.' Well, humans will never know, as the bats will never know what it's like to be human--the brain build is extremely different. We do know what it's like to be human though (with those few exceptions, as usual) which in my view, ends up making this hard problem not so hard after all (but I'm speaking in neuroscience perspective, not philosophical perspective).

We human beings pretty much all have finger prints, and so we know what it's like to have finger prints and yet seemingly none (or very few at best) are exactly the same. When we open the skull, we know what we're going to basically find and where we'll find it. The nuclei accumbens are always gonna be right there, V5, always spread out mostly on the medial area of the occipital lobe, etc.

And then what, the cortex is always gonna have those six layers (over most of it) with the various projections of each layer. All the gyri will have the same basic spread of neuron assignment, and so forth and so on. And these neurons are all gonna have their usual make up and operating systems, be most negative inside their double lipid membrane, and do what they do.

Complexity is surely another thing that has been the hang-up (as validity seems to be pointing towards as well) in being able to see that it's these living entities working together that make what we call 'upward processing with feedback looping' which, in turn, is what is most practically being talked about when we think of what it's like to cognitively be aware and have memory of a sensation or thought. The neuronal activities in my brain matter are very much the same as that in the brains of you fellow posters, and most all other humans.

When we come across patterns of a whole which are noticable different, say the dopamine failure in Parkinsons (a hereditary cause), or the loss of medium spiny neurons in Huntington disease (also hereditary), we can test for what it is that gives rise to the difference in overall outcome (brain output) both intrinsically and extrinsically (seeing inside the brain, or seeing the person' behaviour). We can then come to theorize and test hypothesis based on observations, and little by little come to know.

It is a simple fact, yet, that neuron A cannot be neuron Z, anymore than my thumb print cannot be my forefinger print, yet they are both prints and make similar layered designs. So while the neurons making that portion of my brain build are just like all such neurons (especially, but not only focusing on H. sapien here), and do the very much the same things, the patterns that they lay are going to be different a little (in some cases more, some less) between brains.

We can still rest reassured, however, that it is the activity of those little living 'creatures' (if you will) that give rise to what we call sensation--seeing that red, feeling that pain, remembering that summer day at the beach, and yes, looking into her (I'm male) eyes and falling head over heals. We know there are those with brain damage who can see no color at all--those neurons are dead. We know that living neurons can move into zones where other neurons have died (or have been killed) and cause things like phantom limbs, or some restoration of sight.

Uh oh . . . I've written this much already (and still not through)? Ok, I'll shut up for a second. Sorry 'bout that.
0 Replies
 
nameless
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 04:48 pm
@Kielicious,
Kielicious;62383 wrote:
understand where you are coming from, I too used to fight against science but seeing how its the best method we have what else is there to use?

I guess that you don't understand where I am comming from. All I say here is supportable by science. I usually come from a scientifico/philosophical Perspective unless otherwise stated.
There are other methods of perceiving existence other than from the Perspective of science.
Some people perceive the world as an interplay between faeries, guardian angels and colored candles and 'dreamwork'. They looking at the same Universe as you.
Some see the world as music, flow and ebb and harmonies and dissonences, a great pattern, a flowing dance... far from 'scientific' and 'rational', but a perceived 'reality' nonetheless.
Some see it as 'love', far from 'rational'.
There are 'many' Perspectives, all unique, comprising The Universe.

Quote:
if you think the mind and brain arent connected then share with the rest of us.

Have you a specific question? In the absence of evidence of a 'Mind/Consciousness' brain 'connection' other than as I stated, I don't see what you are asking?

Quote:
the goal is to unravel the mystery of consciousness.

'Your' goal. Enjoy the attempt. You are tilting at windmills, as you will find out after an honest sincere attempt is made to "unravel the mystery of consciousness".
validity
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 05:02 pm
@Kielicious,
Kielicious wrote:
Haha I should have put up a disclaimer.

As for downward causation I havent looked much into it but from what I have read of it I dont know how a new causal phenomenon can just appear out of nowhere. Maybe you can explain it better but to me its highly counter-intuitive to say the least.
:bigsmile: yes it is not what you say but the disclaimers you make.

As things go up in levels of complexity there seems to be emergent properties that are not evident in the levels below it nor are able to be explained from the behaviour of its parts. Take for example quark, proton, atom, molecule, cell, organism, brain, mind, consciousness. The "rules" that explain the behaviour of the lower end of complexity do not adequately explain the behaviour of the higher end complexity. As the level of complexity goes up there seems to be additional rules that apply only to at certain levels of the system i.e. holism the system as a whole and not an assembly of its parts.

As to where this appears from is a fascinating question. it depends on what you want to believe. For me, a good introductory work that I have read is eBooks.com - Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature's Creative Ability to Order the Universe eBook it deals in terms of math (eg non linear systems, chaos) science (eg physics, biology) and philosophy (eg teleology, determinism and it even mentions panpsychism which I had never heard of). A very good overview.
Kielicious
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 06:09 pm
@nameless,
nameless wrote:
I guess that you don't understand where I am comming from. All I say here is supportable by science. I usually come from a scientifico/philosophical Perspective unless otherwise stated.
There are other methods of perceiving existence other than from the Perspective of science.
Some people perceive the world as an interplay between faeries, guardian angels and colored candles and 'dreamwork'. They looking at the same Universe as you.
Some see the world as music, flow and ebb and harmonies and dissonences, a great pattern, a flowing dance... far from 'scientific' and 'rational', but a perceived 'reality' nonetheless.
Some see it as 'love', far from 'rational'.
There are 'many' Perspectives, all unique, comprising The Universe.


Have you a specific question? In the absence of evidence of a 'Mind/Consciousness' brain 'connection' other than as I stated, I don't see what you are asking?


'Your' goal. Enjoy the attempt. You are tilting at windmills, as you will find out after an honest sincere attempt is made to "unravel the mystery of consciousness".



As much as I enjoy your implicit insults, this little convo that we are having needs to start being more constructive to the subject at hand. If you have problems with what has been stated then be more direct and present your 'perspective' because right now you're no better than a backseat driver.

---------- Post added at 05:14 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:09 PM ----------

validity wrote:
:bigsmile: yes it is not what you say but the disclaimers you make.

As things go up in levels of complexity there seems to be emergent properties that are not evident in the levels below it nor are able to be explained from the behaviour of its parts. Take for example quark, proton, atom, molecule, cell, organism, brain, mind, consciousness. The "rules" that explain the behaviour of the lower end of complexity do not adequately explain the behaviour of the higher end complexity. As the level of complexity goes up there seems to be additional rules that apply only to at certain levels of the system i.e. holism the system as a whole and not an assembly of its parts.

As to where this appears from is a fascinating question. it depends on what you want to believe. For me, a good introductory work that I have read is eBooks.com - Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature's Creative Ability to Order the Universe eBook it deals in terms of math (eg non linear systems, chaos) science (eg physics, biology) and philosophy (eg teleology, determinism and it even mentions panpsychism which I had never heard of). A very good overview.



Yes I'm familiar with holism, emergence, nonlinearity, complex systems, etc. and I do endorse Emergence. I absolutely agree that there are emergent properties all throughout reality but the only thing I havent seen is a good example of downward causation. Of all the papers I've read about emergence typically they dont say much about downward causation because either the examples are trivial (no offense) or unverified (i.e. consciousness). I'm open-minded though so if you have some good examples then please show.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 06:49 pm
@Kielicious,
Kielicious,

I agree with you completely. I also feel that the working of the brain is what gives us consciousness and awareness. When that is disturbed our experience can change. There are several medical studies and individuals whom display rather odd results that if the mind were somehow separate from the brain that it could function outside the scope of the brain. So I ask, if the mind is thus dependent upon the brain then why insist that the mind is not the brain?

To me it is just a matter of special cells going to work while a storm of electrical impulses races around the tissue. There are plots of storage where information can be recalled. It seems so simple and obvious to me but I think most hate the idea that our cognition is just a simple bio-chemical process.

I feel that if the mind were separate from the activity of the brain, you wouldn't ever be able to fall unconscious. But that is just my opinion. The reason I make this claim is because everything seems to turn off as far as awareness goes which always is related to some brain trauma weather viral or injury.

Kielicious
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 07:10 pm
@Krumple,
Krumple wrote:
Kielicious,

I agree with you completely. I also feel that the working of the brain is what gives us consciousness and awareness. When that is disturbed our experience can change. There are several medical studies and individuals whom display rather odd results that if the mind were somehow separate from the brain that it could function outside the scope of the brain. So I ask, if the mind is thus dependent upon the brain then why insist that the mind is not the brain?

To me it is just a matter of special cells going to work while a storm of electrical impulses races around the tissue. There are plots of storage where information can be recalled. It seems so simple and obvious to me but I think most hate the idea that our cognition is just a simple bio-chemical process.

I feel that if the mind were separate from the activity of the brain, you wouldn't ever be able to fall unconscious. But that is just my opinion. The reason I make this claim is because everything seems to turn off as far as awareness goes which always is related to some brain trauma weather viral or injury.




I sometimes wonder if such resistance to the idea that our mind and brain are connected is because of religion and the fear of death. For if our mind and brain are connected it doesnt help support the notion that we can survive death and live forever. So alot of 'scrambling' has ensued to try and 'save the soul' as Hameroff and others are so desperately trying to do. One can only wonder though...
0 Replies
 
validity
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 10:52 pm
@Kielicious,
Kielicious wrote:
Yes I'm familiar with holism, emergence, nonlinearity, complex systems, etc. and I do endorse Emergence. I absolutely agree that there are emergent properties all throughout reality but the only thing I havent seen is a good example of downward causation. Of all the papers I've read about emergence typically they dont say much about downward causation because either the examples are trivial (no offense) or unverified (i.e. consciousness). I'm open-minded though so if you have some good examples then please show.
There are many examples, to which I hope a few satisfy your criteria of non-trival and verifiable. Psychophysiologic illness and disorders would fit into the downward causation scheme. What of the blushing response to embarrassment? Quantum measurement in the sense that it is the design of the measuring device that gives a fundamental "particle" either a wave or particle property?
nameless
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 02:49 am
@Kielicious,
Kielicious;62539 wrote:
As much as I enjoy your implicit insults, this little convo that we are having needs to start being more constructive to the subject at hand. If you have problems with what has been stated then be more direct and present your 'perspective' because right now you're no better than a backseat driver.

There were no insults. That you might not understand, is of no import. You don't seem to really want to. I spoke clearly, and there are others who do find meaning and food for thought. But, as your ego seems to be involved here (projecting insult), and I've said all i need, I'll be unsubscribing from the thread now.
Another time, perhaps.
Peace
0 Replies
 
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 07:16 am
@validity,
I regret that such emotional coloring has developed here so early on this thread. Oh how I do wish there would be more effort by participants at large in such fields, to work on developing statements and assertions with more data based examples.

nameless, you did write the following: "Materialism, as a philosophy, has been refuted and obsolete for centuries." (post #4) Also you have said, "All I say here is supportable by science."

Therefore, while we can understand that we cannot absolutely determine what you may have had in mind with the word 'here,' in the latter quote, the contextual setting seems to point to it as being 'here on this thread.' Taking that to be the better choice (until further data come in) we will find that we would have every right in questioning just how it might be said that your claim to have 'spoken clearly' (#15) on this thread could be verified.

I would hope that you'd offer some support for that first claim. The idea of 'materialism' having been around for centuries seems a bit new to me.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 07:25 am
@KaseiJin,
Are there any dualists left viewing this?
0 Replies
 
Kielicious
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 04:49 pm
@validity,
validity wrote:
There are many examples, to which I hope a few satisfy your criteria of non-trival and verifiable. Psychophysiologic illness and disorders would fit into the downward causation scheme. What of the blushing response to embarrassment? Quantum measurement in the sense that it is the design of the measuring device that gives a fundamental "particle" either a wave or particle property?


The theme behind your examples seem to be consciousness (well except for the QM example), especially the blushing response to embarrassment; and as for the psychological disorders could you be more specific? I hope I'm not coming across as having an impossible-to-fit criteria but I just want a clear example that downward causation is happening, seeing how there are supposedly numerous examples from what I've been told. However, usually the examples I see arent very impressive like: ants move according to the pheromones in the air. So the pheromones act like downward causation to the ants, but as I'm sure youre aware this isnt very persuasive and if anything seems more like a bottom-up process than a top-down one.
yffer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 May, 2009 02:59 am
@Kielicious,
[quote=Kielicious]So I've always been curious as to why some people subscribe to the idea that the mind and brain are not connected. This has always puzzled me because I haven't really seen good, if any, evidence that the two are separate. Now, obviously from an ontological perspective the mind and brain are distinct but to go further and claim that the mind doesn't correspond to the brain seems unwarranted, to say the least. The opposing view (that the mind and brain are connected) seems quite obvious to me and I'll show why...[/quote]
Kielicious wrote:


First example in support comes from everyday experience that anyone can test and experiment with, and that would be trauma of the brain. If you've ever been hit in the head really hard loss of consciousness can ensue. Now you may not want to be the test subject behind that particular experiment so a more painless way of testing this would be to play the 'pass-out game', which I'm sure most of you have heard of. All you do is breath really hard for about 30 seconds then have someone press against you neck to cut off circulation to your brain and tadah! you lose consciousness and pass-out.

Now the more serious examples come from neuroscience and neurosurgery. As unpleasant as it sounds, neurosurgery is conducted under local rather than general anesthesia because the brain lacks pain receptors, which means the subject is still awake when operated on. Stimulation of the brain led neurosurgery to considerable knowledge for mapping the functions of the brain. Localization of brain function began in the 1800s by Paul Broca who connected language functions to the brain. Electrical stimulation of the motor cortex, performed by Fritsch and Hitzig, in rabbit and dog brain produced movement in the animals which furthered localization of functions within the brain. Additionally, neurosurgeon Wilder Penfieldcontributed a great deal of our understanding of the mapping of the brain. This list goes on and on, and such knowledge and understanding of the brain has produced ground-breaking machines like BCI's.



Finally, and I hope I'm not preaching to the choir when I say this, but look at drugs. If you still don't think the mind and brain are connected then why would neurotransmitters released and received in your synaptic gap cause distortion to your perception? Again, the connection seems obvious to me, but for those who prefer to avoid the razor the assumptions increase exponentially.

I guess I've written enough. The main point of all this is to show that we need to treat consciousness as a biological problem, as Koch would say, because otherwise we are left with random claims that cannot be validated or falsified which in turn only impedes our progress at reaching our goal. Although, I'm only interested in the truth so if anyone has any good evidence that the brain and mind are not connected then by all means show. I'll be waiting but I doubt I'll be getting much responses. Thanks for reading.


You seem to be using the words consciousness and mind interchangeable, so I'll go with that.
As I see it, you are conflating and confusing consciousness/mind with contents of consciousness. Your examples of the brain being affected by drugs and damage doesn't address the issue of consciousness.

If we agree that everything observable; mental images, thoughts, perceptions, body sensations, are content to consciousness, your everyday sense of self is content, regardless of what state it is in.

>Drugs are introduced to the brain.
>Different perceptions, body sensations etc. are noticed. Sense of self changes.
>Consciousness, that which notices perceptions, body sensations, sense of self and change, remains whatever it was, which is nothing that can be observed. There is constant change, everything changes (appears to). However, consciousness, not being a thing, or anything observable, cannot be said to change (or not change).

Here's a working definition of consciousness I found online:

"Consciousness is a transparent phenomenal experience of the world from a privileged egocentric perspective."

There are problems with the definition but it is nonetheless something to work with. Consciousness/mind does indeed seem to be transparent, though it cannot be said what it is that is transparent. But how can this 'transparency' get drunk?, Smile

This is from Max Velmans:

A CONUNDRUM
Question: Is it possible for consciousness to do something to or about something that it is not conscious of?
If the answer is NO.
We are not aware of the activity of our own brains.
So we conclude that consciousness as such does not influence brain activity.
If the answer is YES.
We are not aware of the activity of our own brains.
So consciousness must influence brain activity unconsciously.
So we conclude that consciousness as such does not influence brain activity.
Yet consciousness is central to human being.
Without it our existence would be like nothing.
So the notion that consciousness does nothing makes no sense.
.
.
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 May, 2009 03:38 am
@yffer,
yffer wrote:


As I see it, you are conflating and confusing consciousness/mind with contents of consciousness. Your examples of the brain being affected by drugs and damage doesn't address the issue of consciousness.


Greetings there yffer. I would appreciate it if you could present a little more detail flow of how you find these two conclusions, please.

I am not so sure that we wouldn't eventually end up realizing that consciousness, as a level of conscious, is due to meta-content alone (and simply a lack of understanding leads to its being seen as an entity in itself).
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