Thursday, May 19, 2011

328: The Brain tackles Dualism

The general idea we have about ourselves is, that we have a mind and a body. They normally work together. It made Descartes (1596 -1650), a French philosopher, wonder.

Mind and body were such different things. For instance, a mind is indivisible, hence indestructible, while a body is infinitely divisible.

The mind is free. I can think and experience whatever I want, while the body is determined. It is a series of causal processes. I have to eat, if I don't want to starve.

The mind is only "unfree" in the sense that it can not stop thinking, which brought Descartes to his famous "cogito, ergo sum". This typical feature of the mind proved our existence.

My mind is directly and privately accessible for me. No one can see my thoughts, but my body is public. Everyone can see me.

Thence Descartes had to conclude that the mind had to be something completely different from the body. You even can think of the mind without that body.

So he stated that there are two kinds of substances in the world, a mental and a physical. The essence of the mental is "thinking" or consciousness, while the essence of the physical was extension.

According to Descartes, the mental and the physical are entirely different realms. One is a realm of things that obey physical laws and occupy space. Another is a realm of ideas, sensations, and feelings that don’t even exist in space.

The philosopher Gilbert Ryle (1900 - 1976) referred to this Cartesian Dualism and view of the mind as "the ghost in the machine" and this is exactly the situation.

Our physical body is subjected to the laws of nature, while the mind, being not physical, is not. This observation leads to the most important objection to dualism.

Descartes himself was well aware of the objection, which was: How can a non-physical substance influence a physical substance. There is not a single law of nature that answers that question.

He literally has tried to find the answer by dissecting real human brains. He discovered that in the brain everything comes in pairs, a left and right hemisphere and so on, but at the base of the cortex he found one single little part: the pineal gland.

There it was where mind and body touched each other. However, this was a weak answer, because the question was not WHERE mind and body were in a causal relation, but HOW the causal process could take place.

This causality on which the laws of physics are based leads to another problem with dualism. This physical causality means that the body is determined. Every process is predictable.

But the mind is free. We have a free will. But when everything in the physical world is determined what difference makes a so called free will then?

I have direct access to my mind, but when you think of it….it is the only mind I can go to. Are there also other minds in the world? How can I be sure about that?

But not only other minds are a problem. If I am locked in my own experiences, my own mind, how can I ever really know anything of the external world? In that way we end up with Skepticism.

And when I stop thinking, do I stop to exist then too? When I am unconscious or asleep, what is my condition then?

And then there is the "I" in the "I think, therefore I exist". Where did Descartes find that "I"? What is it? Where does it come from.

There have been written complete libraries about all these questions for Dualism and dualism had no answer.

How to proof that the mental and the physical are two separate realms, which really exist and where the laws of physics only apply to one of these realms?

In other words, there is hardly any scientist nowadays who believes that the mind is some kind of exclusive substance next to physical substance.

The Discussion

[13:25] herman Bergson: Thank you :-)
[13:25] herman Bergson: The floor is yours ^_^
[13:26] Ciska Riverstone: but there is no explanation what it is then
[13:26] Mick Nerido: Descartes thought the soul resided in the pineal gland...
[13:26] Ciska Riverstone: is there?
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i think they are finding so many connections in the mental ability to control parts of the body
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): using for people who have lost limbs etc
[13:27] herman Bergson: explanation for what Ciska?
[13:27] Doodus Moose: indeed, MIT has controllers where people can move things by thinking
[13:27] Ciska Riverstone: for what we called mind up to now
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:27] herman Bergson: oh yes..there is...:-)
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:27] herman Bergson: but we havent yet come to that...
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: have seen such things
[13:28] herman Bergson: it is the whole reason of this project :-)
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: kind of interesting
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: so at the moment you want us to accept that there is something else you are going to explain later on - right?
[13:28] herman Bergson: No Mick...the soul was not in the pineal gland according to Descartes
[13:29] herman Bergson: of course Ciska..
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: ok
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: I'll wait for the alternative then ;)
[13:29] herman Bergson smiles
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:30] herman Bergson: I don't give all my treasures away that easily Ciska...
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: well you want me to give something up
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: so i have to get something for it
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: thats economics ;))
[13:30] herman Bergson: But ..main point today is...substance duality
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: (teasing of course)
[13:30] Mick Nerido: The world is so filled with opposites light and dark, male and female, mind and body that leads to dualism
[13:31] Doodus Moose: the nature of light itself, lends to dualism
[13:31] herman Bergson: The idea that the mind is another kind of substance than molecules
[13:31] Mick Nerido: Yes Doodus
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: i think its just a matter of language... buddhism for example speaks of bodymind
[13:31] herman Bergson: waves and particles..isnt it Doodus
[13:32] Doodus Moose: correct
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: yea
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: s
[13:32] herman Bergson: but that is just a technical issue, I would say
[13:33] Doodus Moose: again, how would Descartes describe the situation where a person could move a mouse cursor with some equipment attached to his head?
[13:33] herman Bergson: you cant compare that to the mind - body relation, I would say
[13:33] Mick Nerido: Matter may not be what it seem with so much unknown in the universe ie. dark matter and dark energy
[13:33] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:33] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): he would faint
[13:33] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma!
[13:34] herman Bergson: Well...the question ..."What is matter" is a complete different story Mick...
[13:34] herman Bergson: It has no effect on our problem today, I think
[13:35] Ciska Riverstone: mh... if we consist of matter and matter is in our brain... and our mind is our brain
[13:35] Ciska Riverstone: matter matters.
[13:35] Ciska Riverstone whispers: no?
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:35] herman Bergson: yes Ciska...
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: well matter study is a fav hobby for me
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:36] herman Bergson: we have to assume that what we call the mind is just a feature of the brain..
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: and antimatter for that part as well
[13:36] Flo (flora.jewell) is now known as Flora Jewell.
[13:37] Mick Nerido: And quantum physics is an issue also
[13:37] Ciska Riverstone: yes Mick think so too
[13:37] herman Bergson: well..only to some extend Mick...
[13:37] Mick Nerido: Just plating devils advocate
[13:37] herman Bergson: it doesn't change the fact that the mind is a feature of the brain
[13:37] Ciska Riverstone: no not at all
[13:37] Ciska Riverstone: it asks how
[13:38] herman Bergson: it may be involved in the discussion about free will
[13:38] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): complex
[13:38] herman Bergson: We will get to that certainly
[13:38] Ciska Riverstone: very, Gemma
[13:38] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma....
[13:39] herman Bergson: I sometimes don't know where to begin....
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: can imagine that
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: mm
[13:39] herman Bergson: .
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: aaa puh new keyboard works again
[13:39] herman Bergson: there are so many issues , all related to each other
[13:39] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: hit num lock on my new mini keyboard, no wonder it started behaving strang
[13:39] herman Bergson: But I'll do my best ^_^
[13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :_)
[13:40] Ciska Riverstone: complex as the linkings in the brain ;)
[13:40] Ciska Riverstone: and we appreciate that !
[13:40] herman Bergson: Well..yet this is an important issue..dualism...
[13:40] herman Bergson: it means...if we reject it as an explanation of the mind...
[13:41] herman Bergson: then there is not such a thing as a material body and an immaterial mind
[13:41] Jerome Ronzales: is it right to say that Dualism is a Absolutism?
[13:41] herman Bergson: it also means...and that was what Descartes hoped to save...there is no immaterial soul
[13:42] herman Bergson: no Jerome..makes little sense..I am sorry
[13:42] Mick Nerido: And yet there is an immaterial quality to the mind
[13:42] Jerome Ronzales: ok
[13:43] herman Bergson: I will disagree with you Mick.. :-)
[13:43] herman Bergson: that sounds like property dualism
[13:43] herman Bergson: that means...
[13:43] herman Bergson: mind substance...
[13:43] herman Bergson: but the mind is a property ,,a special property of the brain
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: Mick - maybe we see it like that cause we see that matter reacts to the same things in the same way wether decisions seem not to
[13:44] herman Bergson: it is not the brain itself..but a special "mind" property
[13:44] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): can you locate the mind property?
[13:45] herman Bergson: Well Beertje...that has taken a while...
[13:45] herman Bergson: the egyptians didn't give a dime for the brain...
[13:45] herman Bergson: their Pharaos were burried without a brain
[13:45] Mick Nerido: We can see the brain at work with brain scans
[13:45] herman Bergson: The Greek thought it was located in the chest or abdomen..:-)
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: yes but we still do not know why it fires which neuron - as far as i know mick
[13:46] herman Bergson: In the Middle Ages they began to believe that the mind was in the head
[13:47] herman Bergson: No. I wouldn't say so Ciska...
[13:47] herman Bergson: We really know where what functions are located where in the brain
[13:48] herman Bergson: Look at the charts on the wall for instance
[13:48] herman Bergson: That doesn't mean we understand the brain as such...:-)
[13:49] herman Bergson: But we have soem insight
[13:49] Doodus Moose: we might all use the same parts to walk, but what is "programmed" in the reasoning section is somewhat individual
[13:49] Mick Nerido: There is global theory and another that says specific areas do specific functions
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: i meant the individual thing - yes doodus
[13:51] herman Bergson: OK...let's conclude that we are not inclined to accept substance dualism as an option to explain the mind
[13:51] herman Bergson: at least...that is MY point of view
[13:51] Doodus Moose: :-)
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: oki
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: oki
[13:51] herman Bergson: Deal Bejiita ^_^
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:52] Mick Nerido: Ok, but was Spinosa's mind better than Descartes? ")
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: its for sure an interesting topic
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): different maybe
[13:52] Ciska Riverstone: definitivly gemma
[13:52] herman Bergson: better means that you have criteria to test the difference
[13:53] herman Bergson: wehat are they Mick?
[13:54] Mick Nerido: They both lived in Holland, most of their lives also...funny
[13:54] herman Bergson smiles
[13:55] herman Bergson: Both didnt wear wooden shoes or loved tulips :-)
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): WaaaHaHAhahAHA! AhhhhHAhahhAHhahHAH! haha!
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: hahahahahahahahaha
[13:55] Bilthor Esharham: hahahahahaaaa
[13:55] herman Bergson: so I guess they were equal partners in this matter
[13:55] Bilthor Esharham: *** HOHOHO THAT IS A GOOD ONE !!! ***
[13:55] Mick Nerido: They found a friendly intellectual community I would guess
[13:56] herman Bergson: Oh yes..
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:56] herman Bergson: But the fact that the one had another idea than the other doesnt make him bette or worse..
[13:57] herman Bergson: scientifically you could ask the question....who was closer to how things really are
[13:57] herman Bergson: but in those days they only had their own brain....
[13:57] herman Bergson: their imagination..
[13:58] Mick Nerido: Good point herman
[13:58] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:58] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): herman
[13:58] herman Bergson: like even the Greeks like Democritus, when I am not mistaken, imagened that the world was a collection of atoms
[13:58] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i should make it thursday
[13:58] herman Bergson: Or Leibniz thought it were monads
[13:59] herman Bergson: Glad you were back again Gemma..missed you
[13:59] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:59] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:59] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): had a good time away tho
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: hehehe
[13:59] herman Bergson: Sure :-)
[13:59] Ciska Riverstone: :) great gemma
[13:59] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): saw lots of birds
[14:00] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): 22 species of warbler
[14:00] Doodus Moose: :-0
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: aa ok
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: nice
[14:00] Mick Nerido: Where?
[14:01] herman Bergson: Well..I gues it is time to dismiss class then...
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: ah
[14:01] herman Bergson: Now that Gemma is gone ^_^
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: again very interesting
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: gave me some more to think about ㋡
[14:01] Ciska Riverstone: very interesting - thank you herman
[14:01] herman Bergson: thank you Bejiita
[14:01] Doodus Moose: Thanks, Professor :-)
[14:01] Mick Nerido: Bye, thanks
[14:01] Ciska Riverstone: bye Mick
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: tine to head on I guess
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: cu soon again
[14:02] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you was very interesting again
[14:02] Ciska Riverstone: bye all
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: hugs
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[14:02] Ciska Riverstone: bye Bejiita
[14:02] Doodus Moose: ....surrounded by .......particles......
[14:02] Bilthor Esharham: Very interesting...very thanks professor......)))
[14:02] Jerome Ronzales: bye´
[14:02] herman Bergson: Tahnk you Bilthor
[14:02] herman Bergson: Thank
[14:03] Jerome Ronzales: bye professor
[14:03] Jerome Ronzales: bye all~
[14:03] Bilthor Esharham: bye bye....Auf Wiedersehen
[14:03] herman Bergson: Bye Jerome
[14:03] Jerome Ronzales: cya next time~
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