Tuesday, March 15, 2011

310: The Brain and Reading the newspapers

Do you realize, that a philosophical debate has reached the pages of the newspapers presently? If I hadn't started my project "The Mystery of the Brain", I might have read some articles with only general interest and overlooked the deeper ramifications.

But now I do not consume the information as just interesting information anymore. I am witnessing an ongoing debate, which is only becoming more and more intense.

For instance March 7. Do you remember me mentioning http://www.cephoscorp.com/ and that scary video, where was stated,that 'blood pumping' was the proof of being a liar?

A similar company in the US is No Lie MRI, the competitor of Cephos. This company also claims that the fMRI scanner is a highly reliable lie-detector.

The article in my newspaper begins thus: " Who wants to conceal the truth in a brainscan, can achieve this easily. American and Dutch researchers demonstrate this in an article in the magazine 'Neuroimage' of this month".

The text to the pictures is: "(…) Researchers have proven that the brainscanner does not score better than the questionable polygraph."

As a philosopher I read a lot more in this article than only the simple observation that the brainscanner is as reliable as a polygraph, which means… of no use.

To give such eye-catching space to this subject in the newspaper shows us, what you by now should know,

that THE BRAIN has become a social issue, subject of many debates. Debates about evidence in court, about the value of religion in politics, even the existence of god.

Again today there was a letter of a reader on the forum page of my newspaper about the role of God in politics and about claims people have, while referring to God as their inspiration.

That is the other side of the public debate that has come up now in the media about the homo sapiens and his brain. And when reading your newspaper, realize that you are witnessing the debate between materialism and all other concepts of reality, religious, esoteric or transcendental.

So, from now on I ask you to read your newspaper and magazines also with philosophical glasses. Focus on articles, which deal with brain and brain related issues.

Focus on articles, which discuss the reality of religion and god. And if you run into such articles, tell us about it or send it to me one way or the other. I can handle French, German, English and Spanish.

But there is more. One of the major discussions within a materialist context is, that every process in nature is determined by causality.

Thence, if mental states are in fact physical states of the physical brain, they have to be causal. This means that we have to conclude, that every mental state / brain state is caused by a prior state. In other word we have to deal with determinism here.

Sure, causality is an unquestionable feature of our physical world, but then there is the interview with the Dutch Quantumphysicist Dick Bouwmeester in my newspaper of March 12.

From a materialist point of view quantum mechanics offer a puzzling situation regarding matter, for it is an establish physical fact that on the smallest atomic level matter doesn't behave causally at all, but random.

This confronts us with an intriguing question: on the macro-level we see causality, but on the micro-level we see randomness. This leads to the question: where is the point of transition from quantum randomness to strong causality and how does that work?

This question shows nicely how little we actually know about the physical world, about matter, although we yet know at least much, that we can formulate such a question.

Finally something else from my newspaper, which is closely related with our attempts to unravel the mystery of the brain: Symbiogenesis.

In 1924 the Russian botanist Boris Mikhaylovich Kozo-Polyanski had published a book, in which he contended that all kinds of parts of the living cell are actually bacteria, but fully integrated in the cell as part of it.

Simply stated: it began with a symbioses between cell and bacteria and it ends up in a complete absorption of the bacteria in the cell, thus creating a completely new kind of cell.

The quintessence of this idea of symbiogenesis is, that this theory emphasizes cooperation while the classical interpretation of evolution emphasizes competition as the main force behind evolution.

Thence contrary to the theory of gradual evolution, Kozo-Polyanski asserts that the creation of a compound organism out of the merging of two or more separate organisms, has to be regarded as a leap instead of a gradual evolution.

Then there was an interview in my newspaper with Antonio Damasio, one of the leading neurobiologists today, about his new book "Self comes to Mind"

He says: "Smart people say that the mind emerges from the brain, that the mind IS the brain, but that is not a satisfactory answer. How becomes brain mind?"

Then I beginning to wonder about a symbiogenetic leap. Was that what has happened in our evolution when the Self emerged in our mind? As you see, even reading the newspaper is participating in the philosophical debate of today about the mystery of brain.

Perfect article on the rediscovery of symbiogenesis you find here:

And last but not least: keep us informed about what YOU read in your newspaper and magazines about this philosophical debate…..

The Discussion

[13:25] herman Bergson: Thank you...
[13:25] herman Bergson: If you have a question or remark..the floor is yours ^_^
[13:25] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): i just read the article you have on the board..it seems easy to fool the scan
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:26] herman Bergson: Yes seems so indeed....
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: hmm doubtful about that method
[13:26] BALDUR Joubert: first:quantum theory.. the fact that we cant exéplain and understand the changes.. so we say random but it doen't mean it IS RANDOM
[13:26] herman Bergson: nice move Baldur....:-)
[13:26] Doodus Moose: and yes - the mathematics change between the quantum & the universe we observe
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:27] Doodus Moose: ...just as Mr Bergson has demonstrated between the mind's determinism & atomic process
[13:27] BALDUR Joubert: second. the bacteria and other theories.. every scientist today in his field of speciality thinks he has to include the brain..
[13:27] herman Bergson: Welll it is an open question still Doodus...
[13:28] herman Bergson: That was my point Baldur.....
[13:28] herman Bergson: is the emergence of the Mind such a leap?
[13:28] BALDUR Joubert: atomic processes..we are FFFFFAAAAAR from knowing that in the brain..as we still try to figure out the atom and its parts
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): it is interesting to see the conflicts in theories about the brain and the mind
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): all in its infancy
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: aa yes indeed
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: kind of new it seems
[13:29] BALDUR Joubert: as i said everyone wants to add his grain..lol
[13:29] herman Bergson: Well Gemma...more interesting is to see how in the newspapers ...at least in mine, this brain - mind debate is alive...
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): oh yes
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: ah¨
[13:29] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): which newspaper Herman?
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): have been lots of discussions on tv and the radio too
[13:29] BALDUR Joubert: papers want to be sold so the subject is in .. nothingh more..
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): cynic
[13:30] Doodus Moose: lol
[13:30] herman Bergson: plz Baldur.....!
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): there must be a huge interest if the newspapers are doing that with all the other news
[13:30] BALDUR Joubert: its true..go through the history of science and press...
[13:30] herman Bergson: I really think we are dealing with something else here than just a popularity contest of subjects
[13:31] herman Bergson: no....I dont buy that Baldur...
[13:31] herman Bergson: Read Damasio first
[13:31] BALDUR Joubert: it is becoming a popularity contest..and waters down the main questions..
[13:31] herman Bergson: I dont agree Baldur....
[13:31] BALDUR Joubert: ok i'll send you a dvd to think about...
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: in german:)
[13:32] Mick Nerido: I think the advent of the internet etc. has hightened intrest in the mind
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: which one baldr?
[13:32] herman Bergson: It is not the internet Mick....
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: AI has been a subject since years..
[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): that is true too
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: i'll send it to you too ciscka:)
[13:32] herman Bergson: Scientiffic development is only reported on internet
[13:33] Mick Nerido: To create Ai we must understand our brain
[13:33] herman Bergson: Well the AI issue and the mind is a special subject Mick...we'll get to that later
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: if you consider the brain as harware.the problem AI is mind...the software:)
[13:34] herman Bergson: Especially because AI hasn't made true its promises...
[13:34] Mick Nerido: yes Baldur good point
[13:35] herman Bergson: That is a general concept already.....that the brain is the hardware and the mind the software
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: a indeed
[13:35] BALDUR Joubert: ty,,didn't know..
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: the brain runs the mind like a computer runs windows or linux
[13:35] herman Bergson: but it has its consequences….
[13:36] BALDUR Joubert: in your last lecture you cited a lot of guys who didn't understand that lol
[13:36] herman Bergson: logically it leads to the conclusion that everything could have a mind,
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: gosh - hope not vista...
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: haaha hope not
[13:36] herman Bergson: based on the idea that the software is not necessarily dependent on the type of hardware it is using
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: my laptop does not feels so good on that system
[13:36] herman Bergson: an issue we'll discuss later too .. ^_^
[13:37] herman Bergson: Can my laptop have a headache ^_^ ???
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: but a computer doesn't have a mind cause its a machine that only follows exactly what its told to do
[13:37] Doodus Moose: no - but it can run a temperature
[13:37] BALDUR Joubert: everything could have a mind' ' then we should know what mind is.. still the question
[13:37] BALDUR Joubert: for scientist and philosophers..
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: basically its just an advanced calculator that use mathematical formulas to do everything
[13:38] BALDUR Joubert: that could go for the brain as such beji
[13:38] herman Bergson: Bejiita...you will love the Chinese Room argument of John Searle :-)
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: and that works cause mathematics is the language of the nature so thats why sound pictures and everything else can be input into a computer
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: mathematics is the language we use to understand
[13:39] Mick Nerido: Conciousness comes with Mind I think
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: thats the difference
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: understand nature not the other way around beji
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: we directly see and feel what we do
[13:39] herman Bergson: Well…Bejiita…I guess the chinese room argument also applies to mathematics...
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: a computer doesn't see its running sl it only sees 1+1 or 1-2 = then ect milions of times per second
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: and that in turn creates the sl program
[13:40] herman Bergson: Basically it asks...how can symbol manipulation get semantic meaning?
[13:40] herman Bergson: Which means....
[13:40] Mick Nerido: How could a computer be concious?
[13:40] herman Bergson: how can my mathematical calculations tell me that the bridge I am constructing will hold?
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: as said, it cant cause all it does is dealing with mathematical formulas billions of times per sec which in turn is made up of just small switches that turn on and of
[13:41] Mick Nerido: Physics
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: in no way a computer can "see" that it runs second life ex
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: its as dumb as the light switch
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: or a relay
[13:42] BALDUR Joubert: compared to speed of neuron exchange in the brain.. beji..
[13:42] herman Bergson: a computer is a symbol shuffler
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: flipping on and off
[13:42] Mick Nerido: Hal wasn't dumb
[13:42] BALDUR Joubert: lol
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: hahah thats a Sci Fi machine
[13:42] herman Bergson: And HAl was hell ^_^
[13:42] BALDUR Joubert: was he' ' if we look around us men are hell
[13:43] Doodus Moose: i always saw HAL as the ultimate "A"-type personality
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: its like the LHC, that huge machine seems it have a mind when it even can say things about what it do
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: but its not smarter that my computer here
[13:43] herman Bergson: There is Sartre.....L'enfer c'est l'autre ^_^
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: an advanced machine but still just a machine
[13:43] herman Bergson: But anyway.....
[13:43] Mick Nerido: Any advanced tech looks like magic to the ignorent
[13:43] BALDUR Joubert: right..but we are l'autre for the others too
[13:44] herman Bergson: What I wanted to show you before continuing on the biology of emotins is....read your newspaper with philosophical glasses on...
[13:44] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): will do
[13:44] herman Bergson: yes Baldur and we are enjoying a hell of a time together here ^_^
[13:44] BALDUR Joubert: always read with a critical mind..that's the philosophers obligation:)
[13:45] herman Bergson: When you keep the BRAIN/MIND issue in mind and chech your newspaper....
[13:45] BALDUR Joubert: yes herman..if we couldn't argue..would be dull
[13:45] herman Bergson: 80% chance some article is related to the issue
[13:46] Mick Nerido: I'll keep that in mind:)
[13:46] herman Bergson: Well...this applies to my newspaper...a dutch one...
[13:47] herman Bergson: Just imagine..why are there so often discussions about what sense religion makes for instance?
[13:47] Mick Nerido: Thanks Professor, I must leave
[13:48] herman Bergson: OK...I hope you got my message......
[13:48] BALDUR Joubert: good question herman.. but we should start to try to understand how religion came to being..
[13:48] herman Bergson: This is not just a philosophical project like lecturing on 100 philosophers
[13:49] herman Bergson: Just start re-reading to begin with lecture 266 Baldur and you'll get the answer
[13:49] BALDUR Joubert: 266..i'll give you my comment...
[13:49] herman Bergson: We are in the middle of a worldwide debate... a public one and a scientific one and a philosophical one
[13:50] herman Bergson: and I find it exciting ^_^
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: its interesting
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): very
[13:51] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): has there ever been such a debate?
[13:51] herman Bergson: So...a reward for the firs tone of you who shows up with some newspaper article related to our quest!
[13:51] BALDUR Joubert: smile..i kept that in mind:)
[13:52] BALDUR Joubert: smile thanks to my brain:)
[13:52] herman Bergson: Ok...you have your assignment....
[13:52] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation....
[13:52] herman Bergson: .
[13:52] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:53] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:53] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): herman
[13:53] BALDUR Joubert: ty herman
[13:53] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman:)
[13:53] BALDUR Joubert: man..
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: thank you Herman
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: nice as usual ㋡
[13:53] herman Bergson: Thank you Bejiita ^_^
[13:53] Doodus Moose: this is going to be tough, but i appreciate the challenge, Professor
[13:54] bergfrau Apfelbaum: thank you herman & class!
[13:54] Ciska Riverstone: Enjoy your day /night everyone
[13:54] bergfrau Apfelbaum: now i go THINKING :-)))
[13:54] herman Bergson: thnx
[13:54] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): lol Bergfrau
[13:55] bergfrau Apfelbaum: see u soon:-)
[13:55] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye bye
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: cu
[13:55] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye :-)
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