Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

292: The Brain and the Battle of the Hemispheres

Animation of an MRI brain scan, starting at th...Image via WikipediaYou should listen to this. Don't be discouraged, if it sounds too difficult to understand immediately. I'll explain it in detail for you, but you have to read this. It is fascinating.

What you witness here is really the state of the art in philosophy of today. An example how philosophy has to become interdisciplinary to flourish. Ok…get ready and fasten seat belts….

"Traditional theories of moral psychology emphasize reasoning and “higher cognition,” while more recent work emphasizes the role of emotion. The present fMRI data support a theory of moral judgment according to which both “cognitive” and emotional processes play crucial and sometimes mutually competitive roles.

The present results indicate that brain regions associated with abstract reasoning and cognitive control (including dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex) are recruited to resolve difficult personal moral dilemmas

in which utilitarian values require “personal” moral violations, violations that have previously been associated with increased activity in emotion-related brain regions.

Several regions of frontal and parietal cortex predict intertrial differences in moral judgment behavior, exhibiting greater activity for utilitarian judgments. We speculate that the controversy surrounding utilitarian moral philosophy reflects an underlying tension between competing subsystems in the brain."

This is the summary of an article written by Joshua Greene and others and published in the scientific magazine Neuron in October 2004. What does it say?Basicly this:

In the brain are two regoins which are involved in moral decision making. One region is highly active when we throw in a lot of emotion to come to a moral judgement, the other is predominantly active when we use rational reasoning to arrive at a moral judgement. In certain situations these two brain regions are even in competition with each other.

To understand the backgrounds of this observation we have to read the dissertation of Greene which he presented in November 2002 at Princeton University, US. He begins chapter one with this statement:

"This essay is an attack on common sense—moral common sense, in particular. Mounting evidence suggests that our sense of right and wrong is a finely honed product of natural selection.

We think about moral matters as we do in large part because our kind of moral thinking, in the heads of our prehistoric ancestors, enabled them to reproduce more effectively than their competitors, leaving us, their descendants, to inherit their world.

But the world they left us is radically different from the world we now inhabit, and, as a result, what was biologically advantageous for them may prove disastrous for us. At the risk of being overly dramatic, I propose that the fate of humankind will turn on our ability, or inability, to transcend the common sense morality we inherited from our ancestors.

The great global problems of our time—the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the disruption of the environment, etc.—can only be solved through cooperation and compromise among people with radically different moral outlooks. And this, I believe, is unlikely to happen so long as the people of the world hold fast to their respective versions of moral common sense."

What is meant here is this: The battle of the hemispheres, which is pointed at in the Neuron article, is due to the evolution of the brain. More precise, due to the fact that parts of the brain still use the impulses of our (prehistoric) ancestors to get to moral judgements, although these impulses no longer fit in our modern world.

An example: John and Sally love to have sex with each other. They take every precaution to prevent pregnancy. They just love the sex. However, they are brother and sister.

INCEST!!! They should be condemned! A primary (emotional) reaction."The evolutionary explanation is familiar enough. Matings between close relatives are especially likely to result in children with birth defects, making a powerful aversion to sex between close relatives an important biological advantage." (p.299)

Ok, we may feel a bit uncomfortable with their behavior given our cultural background, but nevertheless we could conclude…who are we to judge, if this is their way to spend time together? A more rational reaction.

Like Greene says: "Debunking intuitions through a better grasp of moral/evolutionary psychology will likely serve us well as we strive for moral consistency by putting some distance between us and our intuitions."

To state it in a bit simplistic way: these intuitions, or as Greene calls it, common sense morals, come from the evolutionary more primitive parts of the brain, while reasoning and logic are more recent evolutionary brain parts.

What we see here from a philosophical point of view is an argument for utilitarian ethics based on evolutionary psychology, moral psychology and neurobiological observation. And this is the approach of philosophical discourse in 2010.

Joshue Greene is assistant Professor at Harvard since 2006. He has a homepage and it is sensational, not visually but with respect to the content. You can read almost everything he has published, including his dissertation. Everything can be downloaded as PDF.
This is where you can find it:

The Discussion
(yet to be added)

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

291: Brain and Morality 2

Some critics of Marc Hauser demand more than just a a catalogue of moral "grammatical " rules, like Chomsky did for language, but they want to see how these rules are encoded in the brain and its processes.

This is where natural sciences come in. Traditionally ethics was the playground of philosophers and later psychologists too. Morality is regarded as the differentia specifica, the unique quality of humans that makes them differ from other creatures.

It was the task of the philosopher to uncover the roots of our knowledge of good and evil. It has a long history. For a long time the Greek, like Plato and Aristotle, dominated the field with their claim that standards for good and evil were embedded in nature.

In the seventeenth century we see how the philosophical arena was split up in two parties: on the one hand we had the empiricists like David Hume and on the other hand we had the rationalists like Immanuel Kant.

In relation to ethics the empiricists are also called sentimentalists. This is because Hume didn't believe in universal moral principles. He believed in the inner sentiments of the individual.

When somebody is in need we just feel the urge to help him and not because we think that it is right to do so. Adam Smith (1790+) wrote a book with the characteristic name "The theory of Moral Sentiment".

Smith proposes a theory of sympathy, in which the act of observing others makes people aware of themselves and the morality of their own behavior.

On the other side of the wall we find Immanuel Kant with his Categorical Imperative. Moral truth cannot be derived from human emotions or nature. Rational thinking reveals for us the universal principles.

The most rational and logical principal then would be: Act in such a way that whatever you do could be formulated as a universal law. Or in other words you do right, if you can say that everybody should act like you.

In the long run this has lead to the fundamental dispute between utilitarianism and Duty ethics and we love to think binary: what is the source of morality…. sentiments OR ratio.

Joshua Greene,Assistant Professor Department of Psychology and neuroscientist at Harvard University uses natural sciences to find an answer to this question, in stead of philosophical analysis.

Think about this dilemma:
the switch dilemma: A runaway trolley is hurtling down the tracks toward five people who will be killed if it proceeds on its present course. You can save these five people by diverting the trolley onto a different set of tracks,

one that has only one person on it, but if you do this that person will be killed. Is it morally permissible to turn the trolley and thus prevent five deaths at the cost of one? Most people say "Yes."

the footbirdge dilemma: Once again, the trolley is headed for five people. You are standing next to a large man on a footbridge spanning the tracks. The only way to save the five people is to push this man off the footbridge and into the path of the trolley. Is that morally permissible? Most people say "No."

Greene himself says: "there is a different neural system that responds very differently to these two dilemmas. This system typically responds with a relatively strong, negative emotional response to the action in the footbridge dilemma, but not to the action in the switch dilemma.

When this more emotional system is engaged, its responses tend to dominate people's judgments, explaining why people tend to make utilitarian judgments in response to the switch dilemma, but not in response to the footbridge dilemma. If you make the utilitarian judgment sufficiently attractive, you can elicit a prolonged competition between these two systems."

The emotional parts of the brain have evolutionary developed prior to the prefrontal cortex, which enables us to abstract thinking and reasoning.

It may be somewhat of a simplification, but the debate between Hume and Kant looks like the debate in the brain between different parts of the brain, the more emotional part and the more reasoning part.

So it seems that moral judgement can be observed by looking at the brain activity of an individual. This could have real consequences for our moral judgements about the behavior of others.

The Discussion

[13:22] herman Bergson: Thank you....
[13:22] herman Bergson: If you have a question or remark...the floor is yours :-)
[13:23] herman Bergson: Main issue of today is that there are two brain systems involved in moral judgements...
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: that is difficult to understand moral judgement can be observed in the brain activity
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: before or after an action is taken?
[13:24] herman Bergson: Well can be done by MRI scanner.....
[13:24] herman Bergson: At the moment of evaluating the situation Gemma
[13:24] herman Bergson: There was a patient with serious brain damage....
[13:24] itsme Frederix: I like this topic.
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: but maybe the interpretation is not what the person means to do
[13:24] herman Bergson: This man was not able to feel.....
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: i would like to see the study
[13:25] AristotleVon Doobie: in the switch dilemma, I would consider the number of folks potentially harmed and weigh the possibility that one would be more than likely to avoid the trolley over the more numerous....the footbridge is a hands on, no doubt of the consequences
[13:25] herman Bergson: He wasn't able to show social behavior anymore
[13:26] itsme Frederix: Ari be rational and think like Kant, if you were the one on the alternative track you certainly would not that the switch was set to your track.
[13:26] herman Bergson: Well Aristotle....point in the dilemma is that when we have contact with the victim it seems to be less worse than when we just pull a switch...
[13:26] herman Bergson: Hauser observed the same regarding how people choose in such situations
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie:this dilemma is still a rational decision for me, either one either summons the sentiment or negates it
[13:27] herman Bergson: The subject of today is just the tip of a veil.....
[13:27] herman Bergson: this kind of brain research has just started
[13:28] herman Bergson: But what they observe is that in moral judgements there are two brain systems active...
[13:29] herman Bergson: But the more rational a person is, the more he tends to choose a utilitarian solution
[13:29] herman Bergson: the more impulsive a person is he tends to make an emotional choice
[13:29] herman Bergson: or one on principles
[13:29] herman Bergson: For instance....
[13:30] herman Bergson: cells from embryos can be used for research....
[13:30] herman Bergson: stem-cells they are called I guess
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:30] herman Bergson: Is this morally allowed or not?
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: well as long u don't harm the embryo i say its ok
[13:30] herman Bergson: They are taken from human beings
[13:31] herman Bergson: that is impossible Bejiita
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: and as long u do it for good things
[13:31] itsme Frederix: what is good?
[13:31] Beertje Beaumont: who can be sure of that?
[13:31] herman Bergson: Well there you choose the Utilitarian solution Bejiita...for the good of the greatest number...
[13:31] itsme Frederix: saving Hitler when almost dead born?
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: dont know how that research works but i know stem cells can repair the entire body sort of
[13:32] herman Bergson: Yes Bejiita...that is the goal of that research...
[13:32] itsme Frederix: stem cells is a great topic
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: bur taking out the cells should do no harm in that case
[13:32] herman Bergson: But when you are a universalist you say ..all human life is sacred....
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: :) it seems we are describing a 'moral scale' wher we weight the most harm and choose the the least amount of harm
[13:33] herman Bergson: so it is immoral to use embryos for research...
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: if u for ex kill the embryo in the process its not good
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: then have to find some other way
[13:33] herman Bergson: I think these embryos come from in vitro ferilisation...
[13:33] itsme Frederix: Bej what if the embryo was there because it could serve for stem cels
[13:33] itsme Frederix: just because for that convicted?
[13:34] itsme Frederix: there you are
[13:34] herman Bergson: Then we are close to breading embryos for research Itsme
[13:34] herman Bergson: But what my point is here is....
[13:34] itsme Frederix: yep, the same we do with pigs for meat to eat
[13:34] Beertje Beaumont: how old are these embryos?
[13:34] herman Bergson: in philosophy we have this utilitarian and Duty ethics dichotomy…
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: do we say 'now if I were an embro, would I want to be trearted like that?' or is it impossible to empathise that scenario?
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: hmm tricky question, its not right to create a life form for that reason if that life form wouldn't be allowed to live and develop as human afterwards
[13:35] herman Bergson: and in the brain there seems to be some kind of analogue division
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: its really tricky
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: i think we will learn much more as time goes
[13:36] herman Bergson: Yes GEmma...I have no answer here...
[13:36] herman Bergson: But another consequence is....
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: i hadn't minded i think if they had done that on me as long they didn't harmed me but let me live and grow up just like the person I am now
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: just like any other
[13:36] itsme Frederix: Gemma you mean we as students in this class, or we as humans?
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: the argument of not using embryos is like the Pope's stance on contraception
[13:36] herman Bergson: what about guilt when we see in a brain scan that some part of the brain of a person doesn't work...
[13:37] herman Bergson: Now we just judge and convict a person because he is guilty...based on evidence of his action
[13:37] herman Bergson: Imagine that a brain scan showed that the person had no ability of rational control?
[13:37] herman Bergson: or only very weak
[13:37] itsme Frederix: I read an article last week about "guildless justice", that is a totally other view and conseqeunce if you say we have no such thing as "free will".
[13:38] herman Bergson: Yes Itsme...this is closely related withthe Free Will problem
[13:39] herman Bergson: A number of neurobiologists say that free will is an elusion...
[13:39] itsme Frederix: It was a Belgium author who wrote about it, seems that this kind of justice is in high study at the moment
[13:39] herman Bergson: It is on the list of future lectures
[13:39] itsme Frederix: oke
[13:39] itsme Frederix: But partly we already have accepted such things,
[13:40] herman Bergson: Yes we take into account personal circumstances , the personal history and things like that
[13:40] itsme Frederix: Oke, but herman I've certainly missed something (mea culpa) what is the central topic this course?
[13:41] herman Bergson: Read the first introduction in the Weblog, Itsme...
[13:41] herman Bergson: but in a few words....
[13:41] herman Bergson: Theme is : We are our brain
[13:41] herman Bergson: A materialist view on reality
[13:41] itsme Frederix: I'm reading more than I can stand at the moment. Be comprehensive.
[13:41] itsme Frederix: Got it.
[13:42] herman Bergson: But don't worry...the free will issue from a neurobiological point of view will certainly be one of our subjects...
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: :_)
[13:42] herman Bergson: On my desk I have a brand new book: Free Will does Not exist
[13:43] herman Bergson: That is the title...!
[13:43] herman Bergson: So you'll hear about it
[13:43] Beertje Beaumont: is free will the same as free choice?
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: all this neurobiology is so very cold...I wonder if neurobiologist ever fall in love
[13:43] BALDUR Joubert: many books about that.. neurobiologists love to make philosophical conclusions
[13:43] Beertje Beaumont: they don't...
[13:44] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: surely they mustn't
[13:44] itsme Frederix: Ari sure they do, neurological - some electric between the brains and they enjoy it
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: then love is just a synapse
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes baldur...nowadays it is impossible as a philosopher to ignore the neurobiolological evidence that is growing rapidly these days
[13:44] itsme Frederix: Ari yes
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: oh my, how depressing
[13:45] herman Bergson: The question of Beertje : Is free will free choice....
[13:45] herman Bergson: no....
[13:45] itsme Frederix: think of the times you failed in love - out it was - that helps I guess just a synapse
[13:45] BALDUR Joubert: you are right about the 5th revolutioon.. but as with all revolutions.. takes time to understand the meanings:)
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: it will revolutionize our thinking about affection
[13:46] herman Bergson: Oh absolutely Baldur....
[13:46] herman Bergson: but that is the exciting thing of this project....
[13:46] herman Bergson: we are in the frontlines of the takes place this very decade
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: 'I love you because my brain cell was stimulated'
[13:46] itsme Frederix: so we have a nice winter tale coming up Herman!?
[13:46] BALDUR Joubert: smile.. there i agree.. and the approaches are so varied it is more then exiting..
[13:46] Beertje Beaumont: lol
[13:47] AristotleVon Doobie: such poetry will come from neurobiology
[13:47] herman Bergson: We will come to that Aristotle,,,but you are mixing up two languages in your declaration of love ^_^
[13:48] herman Bergson: It is the same as saying I am glad you enjoyed the want another glass?
[13:48] herman Bergson: Smiles...
[13:49] herman Bergson: Your synapses don't respond, Aristotle?
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: I am still confident of the two parts of the brain working with each other, I think the modern approach is to dismiss our primal urges
13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: and the cerebral control of them
[13:49] herman Bergson: In a sense you could be right aristotle....
[13:50] herman Bergson: If the future is the dominance of the prefrontal cortex.....where our rationality resides...
[13:50] herman Bergson: We are just a moment in evolution.....
[13:51] AristotleVon Doobie: I fully believe that we can only cover up those primal instincts, we will never remove them
[13:51] herman Bergson: Well...This was just the tip of an iceberg that is awaiting us in the future...
[13:51] AristotleVon Doobie: no matter how intelligent we fool ourselves into believing
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: i think so too
[13:52] herman Bergson: I agree Aristotle....for it would mean to remove parts of the brain
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: yes
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: aaa
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: 'a frontal lobotomy'
[13:52] Beertje Beaumont: but other parts can take over
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: or a 'rear one'
[13:52] herman Bergson: ouch....that is a weird operation Aristotle...
[13:52] Beertje Beaumont: and the primary parts can shrink
[13:53] herman Bergson: I read about an effect of lobotomy....
[13:53] herman Bergson: creepy.....
[13:53] itsme Frederix: Herman that has been done before, remember the explosive guy in US years ago
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: wonder if those folks had moral issues
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: have to go now
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: see you thursday i hope
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: ok cu Gemma
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Gemma
[13:54] Beertje Beaumont: take care Gemma
[13:54] itsme Frederix: me to, I wonder what is coming of us as human?
[13:54] herman Bergson: Yes really is an interesting wuestion...
[13:54] herman Bergson: question
[13:55] itsme Frederix: I most certainly will attempt to follow the next course thursday. I promise. Bye all
[13:55] Beertje Beaumont: bye Itsme
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: ok bye Itsme
[13:55] Ciska Riverstone: bye itsme
[13:55] herman Bergson: Time to dismiss the class I would say...
[13:55] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation
[13:55] itsme Frederix: good luck, and ... don't worry to much about all these things. Its also fun!
[13:55] AristotleVon Doobie: thanks Professor
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:56] Beertje Beaumont: Thank you Herman
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: :), fun is just a brain cell
[13:56] Beertje Beaumont: lol Ari
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:56] Beertje Beaumont: i hope it's much more
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: Thank you Herman
[13:56] herman Bergson: Just one Aristotle?
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: I am not happy, my brain is
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: as long as it feels like it does- who cares?
[13:57] AristotleVon Doobie: yeah, ciska...thats right
[13:57] AristotleVon Doobie: smiling
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:57] herman Bergson: Well sweet brains.....enjoy your day then ^_^ . Class dismissed.
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: I will
[13:58] Ciska Riverstone: *ggg*
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: regardless of wher it is or where it came form, just love and enjoy life :)
[13:58] herman Bergson: that is the idea, Aristotle !
[13:58] Ciska Riverstone: dito Aristotle
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

290: The Brain and Morality 1

The doctor plans to execute experiments on one of Jeff's children, but he wants Jeff to choose on which child should be experimented. Jeff has 24 hours to bring one of his children to the laboratory. If he refuses to bring one of the children to the laboratory the doctor will execute experiments on both children.

A moral dilemma. The question you now get is:
Jeff brings on of his children to the laboratory is 1) forbidden, 2) permissible or 3) madatory.

This is an example of the moral dilemmas you have to decide on when you participate in "The Moral Sense Test" of The Cognitive Evolution Laboratory, which is a department of Harvard University.
Main investigator of this project is professor Marc D. Hauser.

Maybe you want to try it yourself. At the end of the lecture I'll give you the URL. Answering 32 questions takes about 30 minutes.

This research project is still online and continuing, but there are already some tentative observations. It seems that moral intuition, according to Hauser, is uniform all over the world.

Men and women of 13 to 70, people who say that they are deeply religious and others who say to be atheist or just not religious, high educated people, people with minimal education,

non of these factors seem to have an influence on the answer to the question when people find it morally acceptable to do harm to other people.

Most interesting fact that came forward is the fact that a religious background has no influence on the choices people make in the test.

In parts of Europe it may be different, but in the US it is generally believed that morality simply originates and stays because of religion.

Here in the US the myth exists that we would be completely amoral without religion, Hauser says. And next he tries to show that education and culture have no influence on moral decision making.

Of course there are differences in everyday morals among different cultures, but this research project indicates that there are certain categories of moral intuitions that could be universal.

It appears that from our birth on we posses a series of universal principles. These are very basic principles. For instance, the Intention-principle:

most of the time people regard harm that is done on purpose morally worse than when the harm is a by-product of an action that had another intention.

The action- principle: Damage is morally more reprehensible when it is inflicted because of acting actively than when it is inflicted because you refrained from taking action.

The contact-principle: Harm caused by direct contact with the victim is morally worse than the same harm inflicted without direct contact with the victim.

These are tentative observations based on the results of The Moral Sense test. On the site there are not yet final results published. This all is very recent and new research.

There is a parallel of ideas here with the ideas of Avram Noam Chomsky (1928 - ), who studied the linguistic development of the human being.

Chomsky simply observed that while a human baby and a kitten are both capable of inductive reasoning, if they are exposed to exactly the same linguistic data, the human child will always acquire the ability to understand and produce language, while the kitten will never acquire either ability.

Chomsky labeled whatever the relevant capacity the human has which the cat lacks the "language acquisition device" (LAD) and suggested that one of the tasks for linguistics should be to figure out

what the LAD is and what constraints it puts on the range of possible human languages. The universal features that would result from these constraints are often termed "universal grammar" or UG.

In the same way Marc Hauser believes that the human being, based on the wiring of his brain, also possesses a kind of Moral Acquisition Device.

In the 50s Chomsky started his research in linguistics and still there is little known about the biology of language and how it is embedded in the mechanisms of the brain.

The Moral Sense test only started in 2003 and is an interesting initiative to use the internet to reach a global audience, but it isn't that easy to find universal brain features with a test, which is not free of cultural bias.

For the test see:

The Discussion

[13:25] herman Bergson: This for a start on this subject :-)
[13:25] herman Bergson: The floor is yours now :-)
[13:26] BALDUR Joubert: just been wondering all the time.. we have a new subject then.. no more brains.. no more understanding how things happend or could have
[13:26] herman Bergson: Ok this is not so confronting as last lecture :-)
[13:26] BALDUR Joubert: morals and brain is the subject?
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: The Contact Principle is interesting to ponder in regards to current and future drone warfare.
[13:27] herman Bergson: the main subject is the brain Baldur……and how everything we are is wired into that brain....
[13:27] BALDUR Joubert: in regards to the invention of the bow too ari?
[13:27] herman Bergson: I was thinking about that too Aristotle...
[13:28] BALDUR Joubert: ok.. morals wired in the brain? there you loose me...
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: well, to a degree yes, but a soldier can sit in the US and kill folk she does not ever see
[13:28] herman Bergson: Sending a drone with bombs over Taliban positions is almost a video game
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, exactly Herman
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: the extension of childs play
[13:28] herman Bergson: Ok important point.....
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: it is still terrible too many civilians killed or injured
[13:29] herman Bergson: Let's elaborate on Baldur's remark...
[13:29] BALDUR Joubert: well for dchingis khan's troups it was like a video game too.. only more rl and less sl..
[13:29] herman Bergson: The brain causes the mind...
[13:29] herman Bergson: A feature of the mind is the brain causes that we have a morality
[13:30] BALDUR Joubert: true.. and there are basic wirings in the brain we don't control.. so far i agree..
[13:30] herman Bergson: well...we hardly know how this all works in the brain....
[13:30] BALDUR Joubert: morality as a feature is not necessarily a basic one.. like survival -procreation.. fear.. feling well etc
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: well they are learning
[13:30] herman Bergson: I'll get to that in a next lecture
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: so much research is going on
[13:31] herman Bergson: I would say it is a basic one Baldur....
[13:31] herman Bergson: It is basic to the social relations in a group....
[13:31] BALDUR Joubert: i disagree.. you said moral intuition is uniform.. i say intuition is uniform
[13:31] herman Bergson: so it is a survival strategy to be moral
[[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: in a sense yes -but developed in a grpoup- so cultural..
[13:32] herman Bergson: what do you mean by intuition is uniform?
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: how unromantic to think the brain has a written depository of must be just a stored bit
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: smile.. you wrote MORAL intuition is uniform
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: your words
[13:32] herman Bergson: yes...
[13:33] herman Bergson: I mean that basic moral ideas that pop up in the mind seem to have a uniform character in the sense that is seems to be general human trait
[13:33] herman Bergson: That is what this Moral Sense Test tries to verify
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: hm.. i think the basic idea though acceptable as a scientific experience cannot lead us to universal conclusion-- and far from brain activity
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: could it possibly be that morals are psychologically inherited?
[13:35] herman Bergson: Like I referred to this Action -principle and intention-principle...
[13:35] BALDUR Joubert: you said language and cats.. but animals have a language.. they need it to survive..
[13:36] BALDUR Joubert: intention.. do you understand a will there or a wiring..
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: which brings up the question of cats having minds? do they?
[13:36] BALDUR Joubert: if you had one ari you would know:)
[13:36] herman Bergson: Animals have ways of hardly can call that a language...
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: I have two, if there is a more selfish animal I do not kno wof it
[13:37] BALDUR Joubert: hm.. language is first of all sounds to communicate.. no matter how differeciated it is..
[13:37] herman Bergson: Well cats have chimps have too....
[13:37] herman Bergson: they have feelings...
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: one can hurt a cat's feelings ?
[13:37] herman Bergson: Descartes and many after him then till recent saw animals as machines
[13:37] BALDUR Joubert: sure
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: I doubt you can
[13:38] BALDUR Joubert: ok.. and homo heidelbergensis saw it as food
[13:38] herman Bergson: Well Aristotle there is a series of evolutionary levels of the brain...
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: well i think the cat is aware of something it does not like....
[13:38] BALDUR Joubert: evolutionary or learning processes?
[13:38] herman Bergson: I dont think you cant hurt cat feelings..:-)
[13:39] herman Bergson: But You can hurt the feelings of certain primates, apes
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: you can.. some people study animals.. you'd be surprised
[13:39] Qwark Allen: they complain, when you are some time far from home
[13:39] herman Bergson: No evolutionary levels of development...
[13:39] Qwark Allen: ask gemma about her cats
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: OMG!!!
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: omg yes
[13:39] herman Bergson: in that our brain is the highest development level
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: cats will pretend to love you as long as they get what the want, if not they will move on
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: ys
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: evolutionary- like modifications of brain structures?
[13:40] herman Bergson: yes....
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: i know people like that too ari
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: :))
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: yes indeed
[13:40] BALDUR Joubert: an animal that can pretend ari think what that means..
[13:40] BALDUR Joubert: can pretend
[13:40] herman Bergson: To give you an example how the feelings of an animal canbe hurt...
[13:40] Qwark Allen: we tend to think about some aspects of human behavior, as humans only
[13:40] herman Bergson: there is a certain species of apes...dont know the english name atm...
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: it is merely cause and effect
[13:41] herman Bergson: They did en experiment...
[13:41] Qwark Allen: and experience lately, have been proving that is not quit so
[13:41] herman Bergson: They taught the litle apes to accept a stone and then give it back to the researcher...
[13:41] Qwark Allen: there is a new book about dogs and cats about
[13:41] herman Bergson: as reward the got a piece of cucumber...
[13:41] herman Bergson: then in a next round...
[13:42] herman Bergson: number one got his piece of cucumber...
[13:42] herman Bergson: but his fellow ape he could see got a big grape.....and they are super fond of grapes...
[13:42] herman Bergson: Result...
[13:42] herman Bergson: the underpaid ape got really angry...
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: of course
[13:43] herman Bergson: threw the cucumber at the researcher....refused to cooperate etc
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: smart
[13:43] Qwark Allen: good thing
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: :) sounds like my children
[13:43] Qwark Allen: eheheh
[13:43] BALDUR Joubert: soi- experience and cognitive understanding. do that with 2 5 year old kids and they react the same
[13:43] herman Bergson: These were real emotions reflecting a sense of justice
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: that is true
[13:43] BALDUR Joubert: emotions yes.. but needs cognitive
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes BAldur..but the point was..have animal feelings....yes some have
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: I have a hunch primates maybe different from the rest of the annimals
[13:44] herman Bergson: They are of course
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: whales are very smart also
[13:44] herman Bergson: They
[13:44] BALDUR Joubert: that goes not only for primates ari.. we are far from knowing all
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: whales and dolphins too, yes
[13:44] herman Bergson: True...
[13:45] BALDUR Joubert: studies are made on mammals usually.. beyond its difficult
[13:45] herman Bergson: Some animals have a sense of a self....of identity...
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: that is true, BALDUR.....even vegetables may have feelings
[13:45] BALDUR Joubert: that's the mirror test herman
[13:45] herman Bergson: They have a dolphin look in a mirror....
[13:45] herman Bergson: then they paint a dot on his nose...
[13:45] herman Bergson: Dolphin looks again...
[13:46] herman Bergson: recognizes himself and tries to wash off the dot
[13:46] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:46] herman Bergson: Even an elephant does that!
[13:46] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:47] Qwark Allen: i wonder about primitive man, if he does not the same first time he sees one mirror, anyway
[13:47] herman Bergson: SO the brain comes through the species in all kinds of evolutionary flavors
[13:47] herman Bergson: He must have seen his face mirrored in the water
[13:47] Qwark Allen: that is different to see a mirror
[13:48] herman Bergson: When a cat looks in a mirror is sees an opponent
[13:48] BALDUR Joubert: right. but the decisive factor was the possibility to communicate not only survival patterns but abstracts-concepts
[13:48] herman Bergson: yes that is a specific feature of language....animals dont have that ability
[13:48] BALDUR Joubert: that's the main difference between man and animal..
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: I can understand the motivation there, evolution has brought them to that stage and been successful in survival, instinctly they would resist rapid changes in their appearance
[13:48] BALDUR Joubert: and for that we need no morals
[13:49] herman Bergson: We need morals be live socially together Baldur
[13:49] BALDUR Joubert: and communication was a major evolutionary advantage for the survival..
[13:50] herman Bergson: Yes but that applies to almost all species
[13:50] herman Bergson: they all communicate.....warn for danger etc.
[13:50] BALDUR Joubert: wolves-- in contradiction to hobbes- don't kill their children.. give food to the weaker and so on.. so
[13:50] herman Bergson: true....
[13:50] herman Bergson: we'll get to the subject of altruism in nature too
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: we do need morals for society, but I think the morallity is not a collective decision
[13:50] BALDUR Joubert: and they have -like many other higher developed animals a social live better than ours :)
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: i would like to do the survey
[13:51] BALDUR Joubert: as you talked about elephants.. read about their social behavior
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: don't forget the url
[13:51] AristotleVon Doobie: I think he listed it already
[13:51] BALDUR Joubert: how did morals come into our human world..
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: oh maybe when i crashed
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: I sorry..
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: I'm Sorry!
[13:51] AristotleVon Doobie: yes prob
[13:52] herman Bergson: Elephants experience compassion with each other for instance, yes
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: oh yes
[13:52] herman Bergson: Morals came into the human world by evolution Baldur...
[13:52] BALDUR Joubert: that would be morals ,wouldn't it?
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: empathy is the seed of a moral code
[13:52] herman Bergson: it is the result of millions of years of evolution
[13:52] BALDUR Joubert: you say evolution.. i say by culture
[13:52] herman Bergson: That cant be Baldur…
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: interesting
[13:53] herman Bergson: There first is the brain....then the culture
[13:53] BALDUR Joubert: what we have in common with elephants and others is the survival evolutionary intuitions..
[13:53] BALDUR Joubert: they have brains:)
[13:53] BALDUR Joubert: but i agree.. no morals as we understand it
[13:53] herman Bergson: yes...and they show...depending on the species similar behavior as humans...
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: have to go
[13:54] BALDUR Joubert: or the humans similar behavbiors tou animals?
[13:54] Qwark Allen: i see your point hermaan
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: herman
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Gemma
[13:54] bergfrau Apfelbaum: unfortunately I must to my job! I wish you an immoral evening: -) - see Tuesday
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: see you tuesday if I can
[13:54] bergfrau Apfelbaum:
[13:54] bergfrau Apfelbaum: .,¡i|¹i¡¡i¹|i¡,. .,¡i|¹i¡¡i¹|i¡,.
[13:54] bergfrau Apfelbaum: `'¹li¡|¡|¡il¹'` `'¹li¡|¡|¡il¹'`
[13:54] bergfrau Apfelbaum:
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: bergie!
[13:54] herman Bergson: here...duty calls...
[13:54] BALDUR Joubert: hope you make it back hom,e through the snow berfrau:)
[13:54] Qwark Allen: l ☺ ☻ ☺ l
[13:54] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:54] Qwark Allen: ok
[13:54] Beertje Beaumont: bye Gemma
[13:54] Qwark Allen: ˜*•. ˜”*°•.˜”*°• Bye ! •°*”˜.•°*”˜ .•*˜ ㋡
[13:54] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:55] herman Bergson: Bye Qwark
[13:55] Qwark Allen: hopefully i`ll come on time , next time
[13:55] herman Bergson: You are excuses Qwark
[13:55] Qwark Allen: ˜*•. ˜”*°•.˜”*°• Bye ! •°*”˜.•°*”˜ .•*˜ ㋡
[13:55] Qwark Allen: beerje, ari man, baldur, ciska
[13:55] BALDUR Joubert: so ciska.. did herman scare you so you didn't say a word tonight?
[13:55] Beertje Beaumont: bye kwark
[13:55] Ciska Riverstone: nope... ,)
[13:55] Qwark Allen: not really, today i slept a bit after work, that is why, i was late
[13:56] BALDUR Joubert: smile.. good..
[13:56] Qwark Allen: been long days
[13:56] herman Bergson: Thank you all…We'll continue the debate next Tuesday….Class dismissed ^_^

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

289: The Brain, Science and Religion

In my lecture "272: Science and Supersense" I said: "Supersense helps us to understand the world, so that we are able to make decisions and choices that feel good. It helps us to feel united with others, that hold the same beliefs. (…)

Science has become more and more the fundament of our knowledge of the world. Thence you would expect that it gradually would have replaced supernatural beliefs about our world.

But it has not. And we have to face the question why people ignore what science has to tell us about supernatural beliefs. People just don't listen to scientists who say that supernatural beliefs make no sense at all.

In spite of the tremendous amount of scientific knowledge, science does not seem to get any grip on supernatural beliefs. Even worse, some people even find science a pretty suspect business."
-end quote-

Science is often regarded as cold and impersonal. Regarding our supernatural beliefs it seems to take things away from us away. And what do we get substituted for it?

According to the facts as stated in my former lecture you can cause religious like experiences by stimulating the temporal lobe by electro-magnetic field fluctuations.

Temporal lobe epileptics show in their behavior exactly those traits which are so well known from religious zealots, and saints.

Of course this doesn't apply to every person. It is like all human traits distributed over a whole population: some haven't the trait at all while other have it to the extreme, but the majority of the people are somewhere in-between the extremes.

Last time I drew your attention to a particular Webpage. And it clearly shows what science does. Let me quote:

Rutgers University evolutionary biologist Lionel Tiger thinks we can: “Religion is really made by the brain. It is a secretion of the brain,” says Tiger, who thinks the root of religious belief is an evolutionary drive

to seek this "secretion"—namely serotonin—which provides the believer with feelings of well-being. A neurotransmitter that regulates mood and appetite, serotonin is linked to feelings of well-being when it floods the central nervous system.
-end quote-

Maybe this is why astrology and clairvoyance are often questioned with respect to their reliability and religious supernatural beliefs not.

Religious beliefs have been there all the time of our evolution. The neurochemical response of religion serves a biological need for humans.

But religiosity is not just brain chemistry. VMAT2 is a leading gene among many others written into our genetic code that predisposes people to religiosity. It was identified by geneticist Dean Hamer.

From the webpage:
Believing in God generates soothing "juices" in the brain that make us feel good, says Lionel Tiger. Scientists have identified the neurotransmitter serotonin, a network of neurons in the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes,
and the gene VMAT2 as chemical, structural and genetic origin points that may be responsible for religiosity.

Interest in where the brain and belief overlap has lead to the new field of neurotheology. Some cite new neurological research as confirming a completely organic, earthly origin to religion, independent of divine inspiration.
Others say that while the research starts to explain religious experience and practice, religion itself is more than the sum of its experiences. -end webpage -

To conclude, an amazingly to the point quote from my newspaper of TODAY ! It is from a bookreview…and mark the title: " Free will does not exist." subtitle: "Who is really in control in our brain." by Victor Lamme.

Whilst reading, I think of God. Previously taken for granted and everywhere. But for centuries in retreat, driven from every domain which science got a grip on. Would this become our human fate too?

Step by step deprived of what is so uniquely human: freedom and responsibility? Despite the passion with which it is written, a cold wind blows through Lamme's book.
-end quote.

The Discussion

[13:20] herman Bergson: So much for today...thank you...
[13:20] BALDUR Joubert: nothing wrong with the assumption of tiger about feel good and serotonin.. but nothing but assumptions about religion and brain..and science -there i agree.. won't liberate serotonin..
[13:21] herman Bergson: We have three belief-systems....
[13:21] herman Bergson: scientific beliefs, religious beliefs and supernatural beliefs (like astrology and tarot etc.)
[13:21] AristotleVon Doobie: "neurotheology", sounds like the sound bite "intelligent design"
[13:22] herman Bergson: May be Aristotle, but in fact it is a very bad name for what is means....
[13:22] herman Bergson: there is no theology in it at all.
[13:23] AristotleVon Doobie: the Pope will have a fit
[13:23] herman Bergson: It si what I described today...the neurobilological research on religious behavior and thoughts and feelings
[13:23] herman Bergson: He certainly will send me to hell yes
[13:23] BALDUR Joubert: religious and suoernatural is thge same..
[13:23] BALDUR Joubert: where's the difference..
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: hehe no worry I blast hiom with the LHC then a la Angels and Demons
[13:23] herman Bergson: Theoretically yes Baldur but in our culture there is a difference
[13:24] Chi Aho: Are brain secretions also the source of scientism?
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: the pope say many wierd things
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:24] BALDUR Joubert: culture.. now we are getting closer..
[13:24] herman Bergson: If you regard scientism as a religion..maybe Chi
[13:24] BALDUR Joubert: so what is the connection between culture and religion
[13:24] BALDUR Joubert: can one exist without the other?
[13:25] herman Bergson: Well….Baldur…
[13:25] Chi Aho: I see reducing religious experience to brain secretions as the pitfall of reductionism; doesn't help much
[13:25] herman Bergson: the human being is a social animal...
[13:25] BALDUR Joubert: true.
[13:26] BALDUR Joubert: social and animal..
[13:26] herman Bergson: to keep the group together supernatural ideas played an effective role in evolution...
[13:26] BALDUR Joubert: not for animals
[13:26] BALDUR Joubert: who have very complex social relationships..
[13:26] herman Bergson: there are never religeous ideas or behavior observed by animals
[13:26] Willful Guardian: we don't really know that, do we baldur?
[13:26] AristotleVon Doobie: could the 'feel good' folks get from religious belief sprout from a more Freudian see, such as the seed for Fatherly love?
[13:27] herman Bergson: That is a psychological interpretation Aristotle...
[13:27] herman Bergson: And Chi....your reductionism we'll discuss later
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: some faux rationalization maybe
[13:28] herman Bergson: that is a complicated subject
[13:28] BALDUR Joubert: a psychological interpretation is also a supernatural belief interpretation ..
[13:28] herman Bergson: With supernatural we mean that it cant be tested and defies all natural laws Baldur
[13:28] Chi Aho: To reduce peak experiences, awe, mystery, the sense of grandeur of the universe to "brain secretions" is to miss the whole point of such experiences
[13:29] BALDUR Joubert: we can't leave religion to the neurologist alone:)
[13:29] herman Bergson: Do these experiences have a point Chi?
[13:29] Chi Aho: Self transcendence comes with identifying the self with the totality of the cosmos and the energy underlying it
[13:30] AristotleVon Doobie: I seek to understand religion only to be able to defend myself from those whose promote it
[13:30] BALDUR Joubert: with supernatural we -if we look at the brain-- it doesn't defy any law of nature.. if its origin is in the brain
[13:30] Chi Aho: Maybe you don't need to do that herman, or maydbe you lack that awareness
[13:30] herman Bergson: @Chi : that is a complex metaphysics you propose there...
[13:30] Chi Aho: not at all
[13:31] herman Bergson: What we know is that people in meditation can have the 'one with the cosmos' feeling...
[13:31] Reyne Baroque: Have to go Herman - ty
[13:31] herman Bergson: and when they have that feeling , neurobiologically it is observed that the parts of the brain that give us the spacial en temporal experiences are largely inactive
[13:32] herman Bergson: yw Reyne
[13:32] Chi Aho: The Contemplative apprehends spiritual experiences and states. Sometimes achieved through fasting, solitude, chanting, drumming, dance and yoga. Sometimes through quiet concentration, meditation and contemplation. Occasionally accompanied by peak experiences, as awe and mystery are sensed, in this state we seek interior illumination. It is in this state that the gap between the objective and the subjective dissolves. Clarity of awareness arises. There is a self-transcendence, an identification of the self with the totality of the cosmos and the spirit or energy underlying it. (See pp. 137-8 in Ken Wilber, The Eye of Spirit).
[13:32] herman Bergson: dont do this Chi...I am sorry to the rules behind me...
[13:32] Chi Aho: You see herman, it isn't all science or atheism
[13:32] herman Bergson: but you are excused
[13:33] herman Bergson: I have no idea what self-trancendence means
[13:33] Chi Aho: you prove my point then
[13:34] herman Bergson: besides that the concept of the Self is a philosophical question
[13:34] Chi Aho: its like someone who doesn't know what empiricism is
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: interior ilumination chi?
[13:34] Chi Aho: Yes, an understanding of who you are, Baldur
[13:34] herman Bergson: what is your point Chi?
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: clayrity arises something absolute?
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: :) the cosmos is spinning around me, the is very comforting to be its center
[13:35] Chi Aho: My point is that anyone who reduces these experiences to "brain secretions" lacks some really vital knowledge and experience himself.
[13:35] BALDUR Joubert: smile ari.. we are all -as individuals.. the center..
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: indeed Baldur
[13:36] herman Bergson: But that is an argument ad hominem where the speaker claims to have a better knowledge of reality which he doesnt proof
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: aaa true
[13:36] BALDUR Joubert: chi.. what vital knowledge..something universal and absolute?
[13:36] Chi Aho: I am not the only one with this viewpoint, herman
[13:37] herman Bergson: It is a typical claim of people who have a well defined (religious) belief and claim that their belief is the only true and right belief
[13:37] BALDUR Joubert: quantity doeswn't proof quality chi..
[13:37] herman Bergson: To refer to 'others think so too' is not a philosophical argument but a social or cultural or religious argument
[13:38] Rodney Handrick: that true
[13:38] BALDUR Joubert: third reich argument chi
[13:38] herman Bergson: In the philosphical discourse you try to establish the truth value of a statement
[13:38] Willful Guardian: has someone reduced religion simply to nothing but brain secretions?
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: it smacks too much of democracy being the truth validator
[13:38] herman Bergson: that is only possible when the statement can be tested...
[13:38] Ciska Riverstone: wanted to ask the same, willful
[13:38] Chi Aho: Only empirical knowledge is valid?
[13:39] herman Bergson: No Willfull
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: well chi.. its a basis we can agree on.. doesn't exclude other possibiliteis
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: we alone validate presented empirical data as true or false
[13:39] herman Bergson: Only statements that can be tested on their truth value are admissible in a debate....
[13:40] Chi Aho: How about the whole realm of logical thinking, theories, philosophical systems???
[13:40] herman Bergson: If someone has a method to demonstrate the occurence of sef-transcendence, after having defined the concept, it is a valid argument in the philosophical debate
[13:41] Chi Aho: You should read Ken Wilbur, The Eye of Spirit
[13:41] Rodney Handrick: I'd like to know
[13:41] Chi Aho: read his book
[13:41] BALDUR Joubert: if you have proof that tranc
[13:41] herman Bergson: Yes that is what everyone should read that or that book...
[13:41] Chi Aho: yes, read it
[13:42] herman Bergson: Be it the Koran or the Bible or Blavatsky etc.
[13:42] BALDUR Joubert: trancendendce thinking is not subject to a brain activity.. logical thinking and theories.. we will listen chi
[13:42] herman Bergson: Religion is not reduced to brain secretions at all...
[13:42] Chi Aho: Scientism, the ideology that only empirical knowledge is valid, is narrow and distorted
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: reading is important, but you need a baskets on each side of you as you for jewels and one for trash
[13:43] herman Bergson: With all due respect Chi....
[13:43] herman Bergson: it is ok to say that something is narrow and distorted...
[13:43] BALDUR Joubert: narrow and distorted may be chi.. but not something we can ignore
[13:43] herman Bergson: but that is not interesting and begging the questions
[13:44] herman Bergson: what you have to show is that it is the case
[13:44] Willful Guardian: is the subject today the role of neuroscience in relation to religion?
[13:44] Chi Aho: I said that scientism, the ideology that only empirical knowledge is valid is a distorted view and a narrow view
[13:44] herman Bergson: but that is a completely different debate
[13:44] herman Bergson: this leads to a debate on epistemology...
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: yes Willful
[13:44] Willful Guardian: oh, then I'm confused...
[13:45] herman Bergson: Yes....
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: we diverge sometimes
[13:45] herman Bergson: the issues of today are...first..
[13:45] BALDUR Joubert: lol
[13:45] Willful Guardian: ah, I see...
[13:45] Chi Aho: You see Willful, mystical experiences are due to epileptic seizures
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: lol
[13:45] herman Bergson: That it looks like that science takes away a lot of our supernatural ideas...
[13:45] BALDUR Joubert: that's sh....
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: I suspect what a seizure creates can be interpreted in many ways
[13:46] herman Bergson: Second...that religious experiences can be provoked by stimulating the brain or be observed by Temporal lobe epileptics
[13:46] BALDUR Joubert: the development- not evolution. of culture is at the basis of religios ideas
[13:47] herman Bergson: but Baldur culture is re result of the activities of an organism with a brain
[13:47] AristotleVon Doobie: I find it very interesting that Muhammed was an epileptic, I supect Paul was too
[13:47] herman Bergson: Yes he has the symptoms Aristotle....
[13:47] BALDUR Joubert: yes.. but not of epilepsy:)
[13:48] herman Bergson: We never can prove it however
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: he fell down stricken on the Road to Damascus
[13:48] Rodney Handrick: you're referring to Saul of Tarsus?
[13:48] herman Bergson: It is a conjecture that he is describing an epileptic seizure...
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: yes
[13:48] BALDUR Joubert: why not because the brain - starting to observe and think-.and communicate with others.. is just confronted with forces which it can't explain..
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: I see
[13:49] herman Bergson: at least..the symptoms canbe observed today with real patients
[13:49] BALDUR Joubert: and forces.. power.. is a basic necessity ina social community..
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: makes one question historians
[13:49] Willful Guardian: well neuroscience might describe the physical substrate of religious experience, without fully explaining the experience itself of course
[13:49] Chi Aho: right, Willful
[13:49] herman Bergson: If that invisible force were there Baldur....who could we have knowledge of it
[13:50] BALDUR Joubert: right will.. describe. they should be careful with conclusions..
[13:50] Rodney Handrick: I'm still looking for a Jedi master...
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: interesting thought Willful
[13:50] BALDUR Joubert: a lighning which kills me
[13:50] BALDUR Joubert: me of the group?
[13:50] herman Bergson: Well Willful to answer your question....
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: you are the Jedi master Rod
[13:50] BALDUR Joubert: that wee have knowledge of.. but can't explain..
[13:51] herman Bergson: the mind is just a feature of the brain....
[13:51] Rodney Handrick: HA HA HA HA HA
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: „ã°
[13:51] herman Bergson: so experiences are just the results of that feature..
[13:51] herman Bergson: the mind is not something that has other experiences than the brain
[13:51] herman Bergson: ok..let me explain....
[13:51] AristotleVon Doobie: :) unless you are trilolgist like me
[13:52] herman Bergson: when you have a glass of water....
[13:52] BALDUR Joubert: right... without experience..-and communication with others.. to say a society.. no mind
[13:52] herman Bergson: the water may be liquid.....
[13:52] herman Bergson: but liquidity only exists as a feature of the way the water molecules are organized...
[13:53] herman Bergson: thus ..the organisation of lower lever creates specific features.
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: so the interessting question is why do they organize like they organize
[13:53] herman Bergson: you can not have water one the one hand and liquidity on the other hand
[13:54] herman Bergson: that is simple to answer Ciska...
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: the later is a property of the first
[13:54] herman Bergson: molecules behave as they do based on the laws of nature...
[13:54] herman Bergson: Yes Bejiita but not in the Aristotelian sense
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:55] herman Bergson: thus the way the brain chemistry works create a specific feature what we call mind...
[13:55] herman Bergson: without a brain and its material composition there is no mind
[13:56] herman Bergson: like there is no liquidity without water molecules arranged in a specific way
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: :) a byproduct of biology?
[13:56] herman Bergson: Well...that is a bit to fast Aristotle...
[13:56] herman Bergson: Then you can call liquidity a byproduct of water molecules...
[13:57] herman Bergson: which makes the qualification 'by=product' trivial
[13:57] AristotleVon Doobie: the mind and the brain, is like the chicken and the egg
[13:58] herman Bergson: definitely not.....
[13:58] herman Bergson: there is first the brain....
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: ahh, but how do you know for sure?
[13:58] herman Bergson: and that has as a feature by its wiring and operation the mind
[13:59] herman Bergson: because...when I remove my mind is gone too Aristotle
[13:59] Chi Aho: prove it
[13:59] AristotleVon Doobie: I hear you argument and get the same from my daughter form her neurobiological classes
[13:59] herman Bergson: You would love to see that, wouldn't you Chi ^_^
[13:59] Willful Guardian: well, it's possible to have a brain without a mind, but not a mind without a brain
[13:59] Chi Aho: Well, last dThursday you said "you are your brain"
[14:00] herman Bergson: true Willful
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: we think that only because of regimentation
[14:00] Chi Aho: which is only YOUR OWN self-identification, not a statement of fact at all
[14:00] herman Bergson: My thesis here is a materialistic one: we are our brain
[14:01] Chi Aho: materialism is an ideology used to justify atheism
[14:01] BALDUR Joubert: so we can be mind without a brain chi?
[14:01] BALDUR Joubert: or whatever?
[14:01] herman Bergson: It would be a bit extreme Chi, but I dare to say that when I would remove all brains from this globe, that there wouldn't be a single mind anymore
[14:01] Chi Aho: It just may be that the whole cosmos is filled with consciousness
[14:01] BALDUR Joubert: may be.. or might not be chi..
[14:02] Chi Aho: and that scientists don't know the first thing about consciousness, as to what it is
[14:02] BALDUR Joubert: may be i'm god..
[14:02] herman Bergson: Those are supernatural statements Chi
[14:02] Chi Aho: hogwash
[14:02] AristotleVon Doobie: I know I am god, Baldur
[14:02] Willful Guardian: yes, but that is not a helpful point of view in this particular discussion, Chi
[14:02] Willful Guardian: at least I'm not sure how it is
[14:02] herman Bergson: We can't test cant prove them..
[14:02] herman Bergson: let alone that we know what consciousnesss is...
[14:02] BALDUR Joubert: lol.. i knew all the time ari
[14:02] herman Bergson: a hell of a philosophical problem these days
[14:03] Chi Aho: Most of what is important cannot be proven by empirical research
[14:03] AristotleVon Doobie: :)
[14:03] herman Bergson: and who decides what is important Chi? The Pope?
[14:03] herman Bergson: You?
[14:03] herman Bergson: Obama?
[14:03] Chi Aho: Each person decides for him/her self
[14:03] BALDUR Joubert: may be we should agree that there are two different approches to understand oneself and the world.. a scientific one and a spiritual one..
[14:04] Chi Aho whispers: more than just 2
[14:04] herman Bergson: You may say that Baldur...
[14:04] BALDUR Joubert: lets talk about the scientific one here..
[14:04] AristotleVon Doobie: but the spirtual has to have an explanation, just like science
[14:04] BALDUR Joubert: an other time about the contents of spirituality
[14:05] herman Bergson: It is not about the content of the spiritual Baldur...
[14:05] BALDUR Joubert: ari.. first lets try to understand what science knows.. and then integrate that knowledge if possible
[14:05] AristotleVon Doobie: otherwise 'why' s forbidden
[14:05] herman Bergson: it is about the question comes the spiritual into being
[14:05] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, Herman
[14:05] herman Bergson: and to that we give a clear the working of the brain.
[14:05] Chi Aho: We experience the spiritual through contemplation, herman
[14:06] BALDUR Joubert: ok.. how about the lightning..
[14:06] herman Bergson: there is only the brain....and what it generates as features
[14:06] herman Bergson: That is not the issue here Chi
[14:06] AristotleVon Doobie: 'because I said so' is not must be tendered
[14:06] herman Bergson: The brain generates what we experience as spiritual
[14:07] BALDUR Joubert: chi.. even contemplation needs a brain
[14:07] herman Bergson: what behavior such experiences cause or how it functions in culture is not our discussion
[14:07] Chi Aho: herman, did you not say the question was how the spiritual comes into being?
[14:08] herman Bergson: that question is is produced by the wiring of the brain
[14:08] Willful Guardian: the properties or capacities of the brain would constrain the experience of the spiritual
[14:08] herman Bergson: no brain spirituality
[14:08] Chi Aho: of course not; if a person is dead he/she cannot have human experiences
[14:08] herman Bergson: That Willful presupposes that the spiritual is something independent of the brain
[14:09] herman Bergson: and there you are again with a kind of cartesian dualism
[14:09] BALDUR Joubert: ancient egypt disagrees with you chi
[14:09] Chi Aho: EVERYTHING we experience is a "product of the brain", so what does that prove?
[14:10] AristotleVon Doobie: 'capacities' is a good word to use
[14:10] herman Bergson: Well...I think it is time to say that we still have a lot to debate...
[14:10] AristotleVon Doobie: indeed we do :)
[14:10] Bejiita Imako: ah „ã°
[14:10] herman Bergson: and a lot of what we discussed now will return in further lectures
[14:10] Bejiita Imako: yes
[14:10] herman Bergson: So dont worry.....
[14:11] herman Bergson: I guess it might be wise now to put our brains to rest a little ^_^
[14:11] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[14:11] herman Bergson: so Thank you for this great discussion
[14:11] Bejiita Imako: ah
[14:11] Willful Guardian: I don't know that it presumes it, as opposed to marking it off as a content or object of the brain's activity
[14:11] BALDUR Joubert: not everything we experience is a product of the brain chi.. what we see for ex. is processed in the brain.. stored.. etc
[14:11] Chi Aho: so?????
[14:11] AristotleVon Doobie: Thank you, Professor
[14:12] Bejiita Imako: again very interesting
[14:12] Willful Guardian: yes, thanks
[14:12] Willful Guardian: indeed
[14:12] herman Bergson: So....we'll continue next class
[14:12] AristotleVon Doobie: great!
[14:12] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[14:12] Beertje Beaumont: thank you Herman it was very interesting
[14:12] Bejiita Imako: yay¨'
[14:12] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[14:12] Bejiita Imako: ok cu soon all :)=
[14:12] herman Bergson: For those who not know.....
[14:13] herman Bergson: The basic premise of this project is that we are our brain and a materialist interpretation of reality
[14:13] Rodney Handrick: thanks Herman
[14:13] herman Bergson: Nice you were here Rodney
[14:13] Ciska Riverstone: Thank You Hermann- very interesting! thank you all
[14:13] Willful Guardian: but perhaps then it is best to assume materialism for future discussions?
[14:14] Willful Guardian: as opposed to debating it?
[14:14] herman Bergson: Sure Willful.....that is the most logical thing to do...
[14:14] herman Bergson: I should make a sign that explains our starting point
[14:15] herman Bergson: so that very new participant understands out starting position in the debates
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