Tuesday, October 11, 2011

350: The Brain from different perspectives

Let us assume, that we use language to describe the world around us. This sounds simple, but when we turn to the philosophy of mind, we immediately run into philosophical problems.

Just take these two simple statements: (1) "I feel pain" and (2) "He feels pain". There is a peculiar asymmetry: the difference between the First Person Perspective and the Third Person Perspective.

Empirically, the mind is determined by neuronal states, which are supposed to characterize the brain. There neuronal states are therefor a property of the brain.

Neuronal states of the brain are investigated empirically and related directly to different psychological and physiological functions.

In a general way you could define the mind as the total of all our mental states.

Mental states, however, can neither be investigated empirically nor related directly to neuronal states.

Unlike neuronal states,mental states are not accessible in Third-Person Perspective, which makes their direct empirical investigation impossible.

You can empirically investigate the truth of the statement "He is in pain", but that is impossible with "I am in pain". Only I have private access to my feeling of pain.

Since they are accessible in First-Person Perspective only, mental states can neither be related directly to psychological and physiological functions nor to neuronal states.

Due to the inability to directly relate mental states to neuronal states, mental states cannot be detected and recognized within the brain as being characterized by neuronal states.

Both problems, empirical accessibility of mental states with respect to the brain and the empirical relation between brain states and mental states remain, therefore unclear.

Both subjective experience and contents of mental states cannot be detected and recognized within the neuronal states and thus within the brain.

For example, subjective experience of certain events within the environment cannot be related directly to the neuronal states of the brain.

When I say "I see a blue shape" there may be activity in the visual cortex of the brain, but when you put me in a scanner you only see that. There will be no blue shape visible in my brain, although it really is in my mind.

Epistemically, the mind is determined by mental states, which are accessible in First-Person Perspective.

In contrast, the brain, as characterized by neuronal states, can be accessed in Third-Person Perspective.

You see the asymmetry between the First and Third person Perspective now? Third Person Perspective focuses on other brains, not on my own brain.

The funny thing is that the First Person Perspective gives me only access to my own mental states, but not to my own brain and its neuronal states.

We are facing a peculiar problem here. While my mind is filled with First Person statements like "i see an apple", "I feel happy", neuroscience can only approach the brain from a Third Person perspective.

How to solve this problem? A first attempt was to "translate" these First person statements into Third Person statements, because the Third Person Perspective is the perspective of the scientist.

Next lecture we'll focus on the first attempt the get to the mind from a Third Person Perspective and deal with this First Person Perspective. This attempt was called Behaviorism.

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you...
[13:21] herman Bergson: any questions or remarks? The floor is yours
[13:22] herman Bergson: You can address me in the Second Person ^_^
[13:22] Widget Whiteberry: Why is it a problem that neuroscience can only approach the brain from a Third Person perspective?
[13:23] herman Bergson: that is not the problem
[13:23] Clint Pheocene: because the third person perspective is not a complete picture
[13:23] Templeton Tigerpaw: If it does not register in neurons, it's not experienced. Period.
[13:23] herman Bergson: the problem is the First person experience of the mind...
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: thats really a thing i've thought about some times that you can never get access to the inner of another persons thoughts like if you would plug his external hard drive in your computer and get all files
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: that is impossible with the mind
[13:24] herman Bergson: yes Bejiita....
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: if that was possible thought reading would be possible and it ismt
[13:24] herman Bergson: The First person Perspective causes a lot of problems :-)
[13:24] Templeton Tigerpaw: It actually is possible
[13:24] Clerisse Beeswing: ahhh so third person sees all and feels all first
[13:24] herman Bergson: Yes Templeton....a Mind Melt like Spock does in StarTrek :-)
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: wll you can program a machine to react to a certain brain wave pattern but you cant translate it like analog to digital and vice versa and suddenly see the object we think of
[13:25] Templeton Tigerpaw: All you need is to find an objective way to tell if somebody is lying. Then you can believe any statement they make about their internal states. It's rather easy to tell is somebody is lying or hiding something.
[13:25] Templeton Tigerpaw: It's then merely a matter of skill in asking questions
[13:25] Sybyle Perdide: but thats only about lying..not about, if its pain is like yours
[13:26] herman Bergson: That is not entirely true Templeton...
[13:26] Templeton Tigerpaw: In principle there is no problem with access to other minds
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes like that fMRI and blood flow
[13:26] herman Bergson: Even the fMRI scanner approach isn't waterproof...
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: i saw recently when myth busters tested just that thing
[13:26] Templeton Tigerpaw: This is why we can so easily communicate
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: and managed to fool it
[13:26] Clint Pheocene: yes there is a problem in principle because we do not yet have a theory about the nature of subjective experience
[13:27] herman Bergson: Exactly Clint!
[13:27] Templeton Tigerpaw: You ARE the theory of subjective experienc
[13:27] herman Bergson: That is my point today...
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: they also named that it worked with bloodflow readout
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: likse you said before
[13:27] herman Bergson: on theone hand the Third perosn approach of science
[13:27] herman Bergson: on the other hand that peculiar extra in First Person statements
[13:27] Templeton Tigerpaw: MRIs can easily detect if you are lying. In fact, new experiements show that MRIs can show crude pictures of what you see
[13:28] Templeton Tigerpaw: It's a matter of refining the technology
[13:28] Templeton Tigerpaw: The problem of qualia is different, but I think it's a red herring
[13:28] herman Bergson: That doesn't solve the problem Templeton....
[13:29] Sybyle Perdide: if you know I like a film (not lying), you don't know in which way
[13:29] herman Bergson: When the scanner shows some brain activity and the person says "I am not lying", who is telling the truth then?
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: w if a certain signal always stands for a certain vision then you can basically do like in a computer and transfetr fron digital to analog sort of but translate from the brain wave pattern instead from binary data
[13:29] Clint Pheocene: exactly sybyle
[13:29] Sybyle Perdide: you even don't know what I meanwith "like"
[13:29] Templeton Tigerpaw: Not lying about what?
[13:29] Sybyle Perdide: to like the film
[13:29] herman Bergson: Good observation Sybyle...indeed
[13:30] herman Bergson: Well templeton...
[13:30] herman Bergson: suppose somebody is in a scanner....
[13:30] Templeton Tigerpaw: Qualia seem so problematic because we always only hear about red and green. The simple fact is that EVERYTHING is a quale. You are merely tackling the most difficult thing first, like forever contemplating the peak of a mountain and never seeing the slope that gets there.
[13:30] herman Bergson: he tells something and the scanner says...that must be a lie
[13:30] herman Bergson: and the person says "I am telling the truth"
[13:31] Heinzi Gabe: a brain scan may reveal what i see and what i feel, but now how i experience the feeling or what i se
[13:31] Heinzi Gabe: see*
[13:31] herman Bergson: When you put the person under hypnosis he still says I am telling the truth
[13:31] herman Bergson: Yes Heinzi....
[13:31] Templeton Tigerpaw: Where is the problem? So he is lying.
[13:31] herman Bergson: The brain scan not even reveals WHAT you feel or see
[13:31] herman Bergson: only that you feel or see in a certain way
[13:31] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Hi Serg ㋡
[13:32] Clint Pheocene: yes only weak correlations of blood flow
[13:32] Sergeiana Yatsenko: oops
[13:32] Sergeiana Yatsenko: hi
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: yes you cant get the actual "data" out cause impossible to translate in that way
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: like i said as from digital to analog
[13:32] Mick Nerido: The scan shows an area of activity not truth or lies
[13:32] herman Bergson: YEs Mick...
[13:33] Templeton Tigerpaw: You can't have it both ways. Either our experinces are ENTIRELY represented in neuronal activity - or you must believe in the ghost in the machine, free will, and magic
[13:33] herman Bergson: In a previous lecture we have looked at a short mvie about the use of that lie detector....
[13:33] herman Bergson: Was really creepy...
[13:33] herman Bergson: The woman wanted to know if her husband had cheated on her more than once
[13:34] herman Bergson: the scanner said yes...
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: hmm ad seems not to be foolproof as i saw on mythbusters
[13:34] Templeton Tigerpaw: I'm really very much interested in your next lecture
[13:34] herman Bergson: the man in all sincerety said no...
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: Grant imahara fooled the machine
[13:34] Mick Nerido: We work harder in brain when we lie
[13:34] Templeton Tigerpaw: Yes, I agree, lie detectors do not work
[13:35] herman Bergson: there is a correlation between the mind and the brain activity....
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: ordinary polygraph test was very safe however cause the interogation and questions and the length of it makes imopssible to fool
[13:35] herman Bergson: the mind must be a property of the brain....
[13:35] Mick Nerido: That slight delay is an indication of a lie but not proof
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: myth busters tested first that and then the fMRI
[13:35] Templeton Tigerpaw: but that's not an argument against the principle of the thought. If you can decide on yes or no, it's only a matter of questioning skill to get the fullness of an experience - sine qualia
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: and concluded
[13:36] herman Bergson: But we are not able to see the link between neuronal activity and the statement I see a red spot
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: classic polygraph impossible to beat,
[13:36] Clint Pheocene: alcohol alone proves that the mind is a property of the physical brain
[13:36] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:36] herman Bergson: Yes Clint...sometimes a painful observation ^_^
[13:36] herman Bergson: especially the next morning :-)
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: hehehehe
[13:36] Sergeiana Yatsenko: alcohol loosens inhibitions...def..
[13:36] Clint Pheocene: lol
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: puking the first you do when waking up
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: eew thats NOT nice
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: hangover
[13:37] Templeton Tigerpaw: As I said, the redness and blueness can and must be accessed differently - but again, it's also a matter of yes or no
[13:38] herman Bergson: WEll I hope you get the picture...
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: I think so
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:38] herman Bergson: the asymetry between th eFirst Person and Thirdd person perspective...
[13:38] Templeton Tigerpaw: Essentially, the grounding of any experience in reality gives access to shared reality of experiences
[13:39] herman Bergson: Our next step will be an attempt to get rid of these First Person statements...
[13:39] herman Bergson: Well they are there, but scientifically not relevant
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: you can for ex never tell if someone says something to you do he really mean it unless some strong emo-thing proves that
[13:39] Templeton Tigerpaw: I understand your asymmetry, however, it's a very rock-bottom feature of the universe
[13:39] herman Bergson: They have to be translated into third person statemments ore something like that
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: cause you cant see what he is actually thinking
[13:40] herman Bergson: I we do not succeed we seem to be stuck with a kind of dualism after all
[13:40] herman Bergson: and that cannot be the case in a materialist theory of mind ^_^
[13:41] herman Bergson: So ..next lecture about ..what todo with mental states :-)
[13:41] Templeton Tigerpaw: If you look at a halloween mask from the inside and the outside - you can make it very very thin latex - so you are seeing the same on both sides - yet you are seeing different things - but every point of experience from the inside corresponds exactly to a point of experience on the outside
[13:42] herman Bergson: Which means, TEmpleton?
[[13:42] Templeton Tigerpaw: That's it's a matter of description
[13:42] herman Bergson: But that is only a THird Person Perspective
[13:43] herman Bergson: So a scientific issue....
[13:43] Templeton Tigerpaw: We do not have the full translation algorithm yet - because we are too afraid to face the truth about pleasure and power
[13:43] Mick Nerido: The inside is negative outside positive not the same but same
[13:44] herman Bergson: Well..thank you all for you participation....
[13:44] herman Bergson: Maybe you got a few things again to think about...
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: )
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:44] Widget Whiteberry: thank you so much. very interesting
[13:44] Mick Nerido: Thanks Herman!
[13:44] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye all:-)) see you Thursday! ty herman and class and all third persons. : -)
[13:44] Sybyle Perdide: thank you herman
[13:44] Clint Pheocene: great class...thanks
[13:44] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********
[13:44] Templeton Tigerpaw: You are welcome. I very much hope not to miss your next lectures
[13:44] Clerisse Beeswing: Thanks herman
[13:44] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Thank you Herman!
[13:44] herman Bergson: next lecture we'll look at behaviorism as an attempt to deal with First Person statements
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: now im going to beat an fmri machine
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:45] Sergeiana Yatsenko: wish i could hav gotte here sooner
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: like mythbusters
[13:45] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
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