I can quite understand the emotion you have indirectly expressed, jeeprs. Back my more youthful days, I too tended to feel such. I would hope that I could encourage you to continue your search, your energetic drive into the act of deep investigations in all fields of inquiry. I had once sat in the meditation seat as well, along with my yoga teacher from India. I had once soared into the hights of 'thinking outside the box'--so to speak. And look at where I have landed.
You had written, in a seemingly moment of fleeting outloud thought, that you had wondered 'whether, even with our advanced science and technology, we were really any wiser than Socrates.' What you may have failed to take into consideration with that, is the linguistically (for now) bound definition (based on the context it had been used in) that wisdom
is something a person does with knowledge--be that acquired or learned. Therefore, to answer that question, we would have to be honest and say that there may be people who are alive now, or have lived during the 20th century, who are or had been wiser than Socrates, or even Plato and all the rest, or maybe not--we can no longer give those folk of long ago IQ or G tests
That said, it is very true that we can say that in aggregate today, we have much more knowledge than Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, etc. What that translates into being, is that with all the evidence that we have regarding what's real (in the practical sense, and PLEASE
take note of this point...as I have stated it a number of times now) regarding brain matter, build, state and function, we can state with very high confidence that minding
, or being oneself
is very close to, if not only, a matter of brain matter, and that alone.
Also, I sense what might be some acquired reluctance towards the idea of science as an 'institution.' Let me be quick to point out that I too am wary of what we can call 'Scientism.' Pure science, in its broadest term, will boil down to a method of understanding our natural universe and all that it contains. Parts of that might be held to be in what we could call a 'supernatural
' realm, simply because we do not understand, or have no knowledge of it at the moment. Nevertheless
that will not deflate nor undermine what is known about the practical world that we are mentally involved in in the process of day to day living.
Observation, replication, interpretation (logic, prior knowledge, and mind set), and verification are important steps in the scientific method, and through these and the testing and adjustment of, especially, interpretation, we arrive at understandings from time to time which do, like it or not, supersede older ones; for which reason we know that Plato was in error regarding brain (Hippocrates had it much right on target, as it turned out), Descartes was in error, Gall was in error, and even some fairly recent 20th century views were in error.
We must only be honest with ourselves, and admit that it has been through this activity called 'scientific method
' that our knowledge has grown. We know much better why the Bipolar Disorder patient goes through those ups and downs, and to what degree and why cognition is impaired. We much more factually understand why stroke patients with a certain specific gyrus damage in the right parietal lobe will have left side denial--and it's real, they really can only be conscious of the left side doing normal things (like tying a know, holding a tray or clapping) when actually that side is totally paralized.
We can understand why the mind is changed in the condition called 'pumphead
' after by-pass heart surgery. We know , by directly measuring neuron firing recordings in vivo
of the C1 area of the hippocampus, that memory is created there, and can fairly well see the 'timing' processes. We can understand how frontal lobe lesion patients have disorders in planning and strategy application, and can see that disorganization of pyramidal neurons in that area causes the confusion seen in schizophrenia.
My long winded post here--and do please accept my humble apologies for that--is only an effort to encourage enquiry and contemplation. And along with that, I ask, how would you demonstrate knowing (which a claim is always implying) that the classical philosophical view of mind is not obsolete? If you think that claim is true, are you willing to test it?
As a final point, in English, the meaning of the word 'consciousness' is quite fixed, and will always refer to a state of being awake and self-aware. The old nous
idea seems to have gone through some changes in understanding along the way, but even in neo-platonism, I believe it had to do with mind, when talking about the human mental realm--thoughts, personality, behavioural patterns, etc. I do hope to discuss this further with you, jeeprs.