Tuesday, May 3, 2011

323: The Philosopher, the Brain and the Soul

The reason that I paid a lot of attention to neurobiological and evolutionary facts and theories about the brain, is a logical consequence of my first premise:

There is nothing else in this world but matter. We'll not discuss the nature of matter now, whether atoms are meant , even smaller particles or molecules.

But the basic implication is, that I assume that there does not exist some kind of non-material substance in our universe.

Yet a lot of people have a strong belief, that exactly that stuff DOES exist. To elucidate the meaning of this fact, I discussed with you our Supersense and how the brain is inclined to jump to quick conclusions.

Important source of information was the book of Bruce Hood, "Supersense: Why we believe in the unbelievable" , New York 2009.

The next step was to show a number of tricks the brain can play, of which a number were regarded as supernatural phenomena and powers.

Main source of information here was the book by Lone Frank, "Den femte revolution: Fortaellingerfra hjernens tidsalder", Kopenhagen 2007.

I may be able to understand five languages, but not Danish ^_^ … I used a Dutch translation. English titles by Lone Frank are "Mindfield: How Brain Science is Changing Our World " (Apr 1, 2009).

My guess is that this is the translation of the title of 2007 and "The Neurotourist: Postcards from the Edge of Brain Science "(Jul 16, 2011)

A third step was to focus on the evolution of the brain. Among other sourcesI used the book by Mark Nelissen, "De Brein Machine". Tielt (2008). (The Brain Machine)

I have no knowledge of an English translation of this Dutch book, or actually Flemish book.

During this whole exercise, which covered about a 1000 pages of literature, the concepts of consciousness and the Self were mentioned, but deliberately not fathomed.

I think, that by now the picture of the brain, based on the premise that the brain is the mind, has been worked on long enough for the time being.

We really need to make the philosophical turn and ask ourselves… What do these neurobiologists and Evolutionary psychologists mean? What can be seen on fMRI scan… consciousness in action perhaps?

How do we have to interpret the findings of neurobiology? They bring us knowledge, definitely, but knowledge of what? Firing neurons, yes, but is that consciousness?

Tons of questions….. and one question I got in an e-mail from a friend. It was exactly the question of which I thought: YES, now the time has come to make the philosophical turn and this is really the best starting point.

My friend asked me the following question:
"Ok then...now for my question...Is the soul considered to be a part of the brain?"

My answer was thus:

Yes we have a brain and yes we have a mind and yes my basic quest is into the analysis of the relation between that brain and that mind.

There definitely is a causal relation between the two, for no brain means no mind. Some people bring in a third player in this game: the soul.

Strictly speaking the brain might be the mind, but the mind can't be the soul. In particular because some people believe, that the soul continues to exist when the mind is already gone.

It happened that the Pope himself has answered this question last week, when a mother asked him , if the soul of her son, who is 40 years in coma now, is still in his body, or already gone elsewhere.

According to the Pope the soul was still in the body. I wonder why and I wonder how the Pope knows this.

The soul has nothing to do with our morality, because this implies that it interacts with our brain/mind.

I can believe that there is an interaction of some sort between brain and mind, which shapes our behavior and actions, but I really have no idea how a soul would accomplish that.

The existence of a mind and a body already has burden us for centuries with dualism and weird ideas about how they interact. To add a soul to the team makes thing only less understandable.

And like the razor of Ockham goes: "Entia non sunt praeter necessitatem multiplicanda." which means "One should not unnecessarily multiply entities (postulated objects in a hypothesis)".

So I'll put heart and soul into the next chapter of our quest: The Philosophy of Mind.

The Discussion

[13:28] herman Bergson: Thank you :-)
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and then take them out
[13:28] herman Bergson: take out who..my heart and soul??? :-)
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yep
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:29] herman Bergson: Then you really must have missed some lectures Gemma..
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): well you did not say "my heart and soul
[13:30] herman Bergson: for all previous lectures were what establish our heart and soul....the emotions :-)
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): you said put heart and soul
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and i don't think you will do that
[13:30] Mick Nerido: Matter and energy are the same thing in our universe...
[13:30] herman Bergson: my last statement was to tease you ^_^
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:30] herman Bergson: and it worked :-)))
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: heheh
[13:31] herman Bergson: That is exactly what we not gonna discuss Mick..:-)
[13:31] Doodus Moose: modern christianity loosely describes the soul as the "i want, i think, i feel" - those animalistic tendencies within the mind
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: well energy can transform into matter close to the speed of light like in the LHC, there u see the effect clearly
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: energy = masless matter = mass and the Higgs particle is making the difference its supposed
[13:32] Doodus Moose: we substitute "fleshly" for animalistic
[13:32] herman Bergson: If the physicists plz would be so kind to rest their case..:-)
[13:32] Mick Nerido: I mean another dualism in our world
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: so substance and no substance in general might be 2 sides of same coin
[13:33] herman Bergson: Let's get back to Doodus remark...
[13:33] herman Bergson: How the soul is descibed isn't that important…its existence is..
[13:34] Mick Nerido: I think it grew out of primitive mans explanation of how living is different than inanimate things
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: as i see it the soul is "something" that is "me" and the body is just some container
[13:35] herman Bergson: You remark , Mick brings us back to our lectures on supersense...
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: the physical me
[13:36] herman Bergson: Let's stick to Mick's remark…
[13:36] Mick Nerido: I think soul also means breath
[13:36] herman Bergson: Did you ever talked to an inanimate object, Mick...?
[13:36] Mick Nerido: only when I drink too much
[13:37] herman Bergson: Your malfuntionin car or computer?
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:37] Zinzi Serevi: lol
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: I swear and bang machines that refuse to operate
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: heheh
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: bad patience
[13:37] herman Bergson: That is what I mean Bejiiita...
[13:37] herman Bergson: Our brain is easily inclined to put a soul in such machines
[13:38] herman Bergson: WAIT...!!!!
[13:38] herman Bergson: Read this!!!!
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: yes when the damn junkpile refuse to work and im in a hurry sometimes it feels like its trying to make me angry at will
[13:38] herman Bergson: Bejiita...just be silent…plz
[13:38] herman Bergson: your words...!
[13:38] herman Bergson: as i see it the soul is "something" that is "me" and the body is just some container
[13:39] herman Bergson: what you say there is exactly what Descartes has put in our minds...
[13:39] herman Bergson: a perfect example of dualism
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: yes sort of as i've heard about how it is defined
[13:39] Mick Nerido: That is what the Catholic church says also
[13:39] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:40] herman Bergson: oh yes..
[13:40] herman Bergson: the idea that there is on the one hand a body...the vehicle...and on the otherhand a......well...
[13:40] herman Bergson: name it....
[13:40] herman Bergson: a mind..
[13:40] Mick Nerido: We cannot disprove the soul exists
[13:40] herman Bergson: a soul..???
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: and sometimed u might believe there is a bad soul in some machines
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: for ex today i played bowling and had a really good series, got over 200
[13:41] herman Bergson: oh yes...it is so deeply embedded in our minds..this way of thinking
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: during that series whenever i hit a stike 3 times in a row the machine didn't even start but shut itself of
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: like it was trying to disrupt my good game'
[13:41] herman Bergson: Bejiita...I really begin to worry about you ^_^
[13:41] Mick Nerido: Its like when you can be outside you body watching yourself
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: but u gotta wonder
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: well then they are really bad servicing the things too so can be that as well
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: they are lazy theones running the centre
[13:42] Zinzi Serevi: what is the connection with the soul?
[13:42] herman Bergson: simple Zinzi....
[13:43] herman Bergson: there is no soul :-)
[13:43] Zinzi Serevi: i am simple
[13:43] Zinzi Serevi: that i already knew
[13:43] Mick Nerido: What about soul music?
[13:43] Zinzi Serevi: lol
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: hhahaha yes i like that
[13:43] Doodus Moose:
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:43] herman Bergson: Mick....you should read that correctly....
[13:44] herman Bergson: soul music means So You Like Music
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: hmm an acronym u mean
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: ?
[13:44] Mick Nerido: ????
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: never thought of that
[13:45] Doodus Moose:
[13:45] herman Bergson grins
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:45] Zinzi Serevi: hahaha
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: but yes its good stuff
[13:45] herman Bergson: Just came to my mind..:-)
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: soft
[13:45] Mick Nerido: Soul like love is hard to explain
[13:46] herman Bergson: That is very nice Mick..but neither scientific or philosophical...that is the point...
[13:46] herman Bergson: we need hard evidence...
[13:47] herman Bergson: Bejiita formulated traditional dualism perfectly...
[13:47] Mick Nerido: I guess you are not my soul mate
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: *g*
[13:48] herman Bergson: Probaly not Mick, I am really sorry :-)
[13:48] Mick Nerido: lol
[13:48] herman Bergson: To be honest to you all...I have no soul at all:-)
[13:48] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): we know
[13:48] Doodus Moose: you haven't given it to..... someone.
[13:48] herman Bergson smiles at Gemma
[13:48] LuckyXIII Luke: well there is no evidence that you do not have one....
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: lol
[13:49] herman Bergson: WOW..Thank you Lucky!!!
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): he believes he does not like those others believe they do
[13:49] herman Bergson: That definitely proofs I have one, doenst it..lol
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:49] LuckyXIII Luke: no it does not
[13:49] LuckyXIII Luke: either
[13:49] LuckyXIII Luke: I am sorry
[13:49] herman Bergson grins
[13:49] LuckyXIII Luke: but it can give you some hope
[13:50] herman Bergson: I was just teasing you Lucky
[13:50] LuckyXIII Luke: ah yes ;) and I you
[13:50] herman Bergson: great
[13:50] LuckyXIII Luke: :)
[13:50] Mick Nerido: Why do so many want there to be a soul?
[13:50] herman Bergson: I have no clue...
[13:50] herman Bergson: or yes..
[13:50] herman Bergson: afterlife...
[13:50] Ciska Riverstone: maybe cause we summen up among soul what we feel and cannot explain
[13:51] Ciska Riverstone: so when the mystery of brain is solved the concept soul gets different.
[13:51] herman Bergson: no..the soul is the way to an afterlife
[13:51] Ciska Riverstone: ;)
[13:51] herman Bergson: the body may die but the soul lives on...
[13:52] LuckyXIII Luke: well ....in the hebrew language
[13:52] Siggi Ludwig (ludwig.john): the soul is a sort of backup ?
[13:52] LuckyXIII Luke: soul means the "whole" human
[13:52] herman Bergson: It is our way to understand and accept death
[13:52] Ciska Riverstone: *g* thats nice siggi
[13:52] LuckyXIII Luke: not only like the old greeks "soul"
[13:52] LuckyXIII Luke: understood ...in a an dualistic way...
[13:53] herman Bergson: Yes Siggi...got mine backuped on a DVD :-)
[13:53] Siggi Ludwig (ludwig.john): yes like this
[13:53] Mick Nerido: Gotto go nice lecture bye
[13:53] Doodus Moose: bye Mick
[13:53] Zinzi Serevi: bye Mick
[13:53] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ok
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: bye mick
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: cu Mick
[13:54] herman Bergson: Well...time to dismiss class too...
[13:54] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): almost time to go
[13:54] herman Bergson: A nice discussion..
[13:54] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: yes interesting subjects as always
[13:54] herman Bergson: Shows that we have got a lot of work to do
[13:54] Siggi Ludwig (ludwig.john): yes thank you
[13:54] Ciska Riverstone: is yes bejiita
[13:54] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation
[13:54] Ciska Riverstone: have a good time everyone - bye
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: now i need some action so i can tamper with the evil machines at work tomorrow
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: then its friday and my best friend comes over so they will not get to ruin my day
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: heheh
[13:55] Zinzi Serevi: bye ciska
[13:55] herman Bergson: Enjoy Bejiita and have fun
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:55] LuckyXIII Luke: thank you Herman for all
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: ok cu soon agaun all ㋡
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: \o/
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: || Hoooo!
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: / \
[13:56] Siggi Ludwig (ludwig.john): bye and good night
[[13:56] LuckyXIII Luke: good night all
[13:56] Zinzi Serevi: bye bye all of you
[13:56] Zinzi Serevi: thanks Herman
[13:56] Doodus Moose: Ray Kurzweil ( a futurist ) claims that our brains will not be capable of keeping up with the future faster pace of progress
[13:56] Doodus Moose: ...unless we have some sort of implant in our brain to help us out .
[13:57] Doodus Moose: take care everybody - till next week
[13:57] herman Bergson: that is a bit of a peculiar hypothesis... Doodus
[13:57] herman Bergson: Because it is our brain that creates that future...
[13:58] Doodus Moose: many brains are creating your future right now - and you have only 1 brain to process all their work
[13:58] herman Bergson: we will always have dumb and smart people Doodus...
[13:58] Doodus Moose: :-)
[13:59] herman Bergson: like society had laborers and rulers
[13:59] Doodus Moose: i've found i've had to increasingly specialize due to the amount of developments in my fields
[13:59] herman Bergson: the proletarians and the capitalists..
[14:00] Doodus Moose: there are whole topics i must ignore to feed others
[14:00] herman Bergson: the haves and have-nots
[14:00] Doodus Moose: indeed, philosophy is displacing something else
[14:00] Doodus Moose: i seem to be reaching a limit of sorts
[14:01] Doodus Moose: well - i'll let you loose to enjoy your evening.
[14:01] herman Bergson: Philosophers always displace things
[14:01] Doodus Moose: anyway - i'll let you go now
[14:02] herman Bergson: BE WELL DOODUS
[14:02] Doodus Moose: indeed, you too, sir
[14:02] Doodus Moose: (buy gold)
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