Thursday, May 5, 2011

324: The Philosopher against the Brain

When I started the series of lectures on basic emotions, interpreted from an evolutionary biological perspective, I said in lecture 306:

"It is a mistake, but it is a generally accepted view through history: the human being controls himself by use of his ratio, his actions are based on reasonable considerations, and his behavior is based on knowledge, analysis and synthesis."

The basic emotions show that our behavior is controlled by a lot more than our overestimated rationality.

As I told you before, we are now in the frontline of neurobiological developments and the philosophical discourse related to those events.

Ludwig John (someone who attended our class) directed my attention to a german URL, which was an interview with Alexander Braidt on his book "Bewußtsein. Der Abgrund zwischen Mensch und Tier" (Consciousness: the Abyss between man and animal)

The subtitle is exciting in the sense that it refers exactly to what my next lectures will be about:

Zur unverstandenen Sonderstellung des menschlichen Gehirns. Eine Streitschrift zum Menschenbild der jüngeren Hirnforschung bei Roth, Singer und Co.

Translation: About the misunderstood special position of the human brain. A pamphlet against the concept of man in recent brain research by Roth, Singer and Co.

I could not find further information on Alexander Braidt except that he is the author of the book, I mentioned. Interesting however is, that he is one who questions the neuroscientists.

And that is exactly what I also was planning to do. In an interview Alexander Braidt said, in line with what I already said in lecture 306, but he adds a few interesting ideas:

he reacts to the mistake I mentioned earlier: the idea that the human being with his rationality should be regarded as almost positioned above nature, but also to the views of the neuroscientists on man.

"So there are good reasons to warn against a special position of man. Only the established brain research pours in this case the baby out with the bath water:

that man is from the animal kingdom, does not exclude absolutely that evolution has brought with it a radically new quality, which transcends pure biology.

Already the formation of the first molecular chains of elementary atoms introduced radically new properties, which transcended the the purely physical.

Take for example atoms that organize "all of a sudden" in an evolutionary process into H2O/water.

And a special arrangement and organization of certain long chain molecules into a DNA brought forth revolutionary features like replication and metabolism , which were considered impossible of the individual molecules.

Inorganic materials thence developed the radical new feature of life.

With some justification, one could say that the current brain research tries to cover up its long-term failure regarding the peculiar phenomenon of consciousness and with it the special position of mankind;

it degrades his ego and his so-called free will to pure illusion and consciousness to an epiphenomenon. Brain research has so far failed to discriminate between specific contents of consciousness of perception, attention (e.g. a tree, dog, etc.) and the pure, general condition of awareness."

Braidt argues in fact that like atoms, that organized into molecules, these molecules, that constitute our braincells, have organized into something that transcends pure biology: consciousness.

There still is so much to say now, but we'll have to address that in new lectures, but what is for sure: our battle between the philosopher and the brain has begun.


The Discussion

[13:25] herman Bergson: Thank you... :-)
[13:26] herman Bergson: If you have any question or remark..the floor is yours ^_^
[13:27] Doodus Moose: we can almost draw a line from atoms to organic molecules, but from molecules to consciousness?????
[13:27] Mick Nerido: It is quite amazing that matter can be able to evolve into conscious life forms
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: interesting
[13:27] herman Bergson: yes Doodus...that is the fascinating philosophical problem we gonna tackle :-)
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: and kind of amazing
[13:28] Kyra Neutron: so...none of you believes that..first..there as conciousness
[13:28] Kyra Neutron: ?
[13:28] herman Bergson: That is the problem Mick....
[13:28] herman Bergson: mattter into consciousness...we have no clue at all how to understand that
[13:28] Kyra Neutron: you truly can place yourself coming from inorganic mollecules?P
[13:29] Kyra Neutron: :)
[13:29] Doodus Moose: organic molecules exhibit (as we say in computers) determinism - but consciousness does not
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes Kyra I see no problem there...
[13:29] Kyra Neutron: herman
[13:29] Kyra Neutron: wood is wood
[13:29] Mick Nerido: we are organic
[13:29] Kyra Neutron: yes..and
[13:30] Kyra Neutron: what hocus pocus
[13:30] Kyra Neutron: created organic?
[13:30] herman Bergson: what we cant understand doesn't mean that it yet happened...and in evolution happened
[13:30] Kyra Neutron: how the protons and quarks turned into this dna and rna?
[13:30] Mick Nerido: We are carbon based life forms
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: also another thing
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: plants are also alive but are they conscious
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: a tree or a flower
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: i dont think so
[13:31] Kyra Neutron: yes bejita
[13:31] Kyra Neutron: they are part of the consiousness too
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: plants
[13:31] Kyra Neutron: and they can understand death
[13:31] herman Bergson: HOLD ON!
[13:31] Kyra Neutron: fear
[13:31] Kyra Neutron: love
[13:31] Kyra Neutron: but
[13:31] Kyra Neutron: still
[13:31] Kyra Neutron: as we do
[13:31] herman Bergson: Hold on....!
[13:31] Kyra Neutron: :)
[13:31] Mick Nerido: Plants have light and gravity sensing tropisms
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: hmm cause they seem to feel well when the environment is right
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: but they have no brain, seems just a bunch of independent cells
[13:32] Kyra Neutron: a good point
[13:32] Kyra Neutron: gravity
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: dont know
[13:32] herman Bergson: It will be our goal to understand the concept of consciousness in the nexrt lectures...
[13:32] Kyra Neutron: we are a bunch of
[13:32] Kyra Neutron: independent cells either
[13:32] Kyra Neutron: you and me
[13:32] Kyra Neutron: is no better than a cucumber
[13:32] Kyra Neutron: :)
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:33] herman Bergson: Hold on agian...:-)
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: but for ex a tree have no such thing as a brain have no mind
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: can a tree feel?
[13:33] Kyra Neutron: we are all part of this great breathing gravity
[13:33] Kyra Neutron: :)
[13:33] Mick Nerido: That we are conscious is self evident how is the question
[13:33] herman Bergson: What is the focus of this discussion..what are we debating?
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: in some way i think it can
[13:33] Kyra Neutron: with the independent cells
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: but is it aware of its surroundings
[13:33] Kyra Neutron: ah yes
[13:33] Kyra Neutron: sorry herman
[13:34] herman Bergson: What it is all about today is that the neuroscientists have no clue what consciousness is...
[13:34] Kyra Neutron: but a crystal remains as a crystal..and..there is still not a good explanation for the dna ...entereing the scene
[13:34] Mick Nerido: The more complex the brain the more it will be aware and possibly conscious
[13:34] herman Bergson: and we have to figure out WHAT it is...
[13:35] herman Bergson: philosophically :-)
[13:35] Kyra Neutron: so
[13:35] Kyra Neutron: shadows
[13:35] Kyra Neutron: :)
[13:35] Doodus Moose:
[13:35] herman Bergson: Might be true Kyra...
[13:36] herman Bergson: But even if w edont understand consciousness....
[13:36] herman Bergson: I'd like to explain to you WHY we dont understand it....
[13:37] Kyra Neutron: yes pls
[13:37] herman Bergson: In the interview was anther remarkable question....
[13:37] herman Bergson: Was something like....
[13:38] herman Bergson: What politicla goals are persued by this neurobiological approach of man?
[13:38] herman Bergson: Everyone is inclined to beleiv ethat science is science....not that science is politics...
[13:39] Mick Nerido: I don't think we yet have words for what conciousness is...
[13:39] Kyra Neutron: ...we don't need english letters to know it
[13:39] herman Bergson: We gonna work n that Mick...
[13:39] Kyra Neutron: close your eyes..and see...
[13:39] Kyra Neutron: :p
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: to be aware of yourself and your surroundings i d say
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: and to be able to feel
[13:40] herman Bergson: .
[13:40] Mick Nerido: But we need a language for true communication about it
[13:40] Kyra Neutron: idk
[13:40] Kyra Neutron: a synestesic can find the correct words for it?
[13:41] Kyra Neutron: yeti believe they see it easier...
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well Mick..that is was Paula Churchland het book Neurophilosophy
[13:41] Kyra Neutron: lowers eyes...sorry herman..i stay silent :p
[13:42] herman Bergson: Like in the Middle Ages we had a language which explained nature using terms of whitchcraft and magic...
[13:43] Mick Nerido: Naming a thing makes it more real and understandable
[13:43] herman Bergson: today...we don't use these terms at all anymore...we use the language of physics
[13:43] Kyra Neutron: a "thing"
[13:43] Kyra Neutron: that you can touch
[13:43] Kyra Neutron: smell
[13:43] Kyra Neutron: see
[13:43] Kyra Neutron: hear
[13:43] Kyra Neutron: makes it easire to definable by mind
[13:43] herman Bergson: yes. Kyra...
[13:44] herman Bergson: Magic as explanaion has just ceased to witches
[13:44] Kyra Neutron: a name which doesnt have any connection via our senses...
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: magic by definition is to defy all laws of nature
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: wich is impossible to do
[13:45] herman Bergson: yes Bejiita...
[13:45] Kyra Neutron: it was pleasure to mess the class again
[13:45] Kyra Neutron: hopefully see you next time
[13:45] Kyra Neutron: nite nite
[13:45] herman Bergson smiles at Kyra
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: cu Kyra
[13:46] herman Bergson: Ok...I guess you wait for the nexr round..:-)
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:46] herman Bergson: who will win...the philosopher or the neuroscientist..?
[13:46] herman Bergson: If I have to bet....???
[13:47] herman Bergson: I'd put my money on herman Bersgon ^_^
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:48] herman Bergson: OK...
[13:48] herman Bergson: It is up to me to win my own bet then ^_^
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:48] Doodus Moose: (is curious about the odds in the bet)
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:49] herman Bergson: Nice thought Doodus....^_^
[13:49] Mick Nerido: So you bet on the philosopher?
[13:49] herman Bergson: I do Mick!
[13:49] Zinzi Serevi: thanks Herman, till next class, bye all..:)
[13:49] Mick Nerido: Me too
[13:50] Doodus Moose: bye Zinzi
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: interesting for sure
[13:50] Doodus Moose: bye all!!!!!!
[13:50] Mick Nerido: Thanks
[13:50] herman Bergson: Thank you Zinzi..:-)
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: bye Doodus
[13:50] Ortwin Sveiss: thanks for this last minute
[13:50] herman Bergson: Time to dismiss class
[13:50] Mick Nerido: , your best lecture to date imo
[13:50] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you was very interersting;)))
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: I think both have right but in their own ways but who have the most right
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: interesting
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:51] herman Bergson: We'll see Bejiita...we'll see :-)
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: but raw science is maybee not the best thing always
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: a combination of both things make best I think
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: science and philosophy
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: cause both have right in their special ways i think
[13:52] herman Bergson: Betrand Russell said that when we can answer a question...the question moves from philosophy to science...
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: yes science is raw facts about what is proven
[13:53] herman Bergson: far as we understand reality now...
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: yes its in a permanent flow
[13:54] herman Bergson: yes Ciska...
[13:54] Ciska Riverstone: and the speed grows.
[13:55] herman Bergson: We just appraoch reality forma pragmatic point of view...
[13:55] herman Bergson: science is that what works...
[13:55] Ciska Riverstone: well what else can we do ;)
[13:55] herman Bergson: ok...true
[13:55] herman Bergson: we need to survive...
[13:55] herman Bergson: so to be pragmatic is maybe the best strategy
[13:56] herman Bergson: interesting thought...:-)
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: maybe its the only one
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: ;)
[13:56] herman Bergson: especially from an evolutionary point of view
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: yes
[13:57] Ciska Riverstone: anyway have a good evening folks
[13:57] Ciska Riverstone: cu thursday
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: aaa cu ㋡
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: ㋡

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