Thursday, May 26, 2011

330: The Brain and The Manifest Image

While studying some literature I came across an elucidating description of the purpose of what I try to achieve with this project:

reconciling our common-sense, traditional conception of ourselves with the scientific understanding of human nature.

The American philosopher Wilfrid Sellars captured the tension between these conceptions in particularly vivid language.

According to Sellars,modern philosophy seeks to reconcile the ‘manifest image’ with the ‘scientific image’ of man .

The manifest image is the image that we all take for granted.Human beings are persons,

with conscious thoughts and desires, freedom of the will and, consequently, responsibility for our actions.

The scientific image appears as a jarring repudiation of these assumptions. Human beings are nothing but physical systems,

composed of simple biochemical components arranged in dazzlingly complex, self-maintaining configurations,

constructed from genetic blueprints selected for and passed down in evolution, under the influence of countless environmental variables.

How can such systems have conscious thoughts and desires? How can such systems freely choose their actions in light of their conscious thoughts and desires? How can such systems be responsible for what they do?

What you see among philosophers is a tendency to reject either the manifest image or the scientific image regarding the mind.

Descartes (1596 -1650), one of the first, definitely rejected the scientific image of the mind.

According to his theory of Cartesian Dualism, the mind is a non-physical, non-mechanical substance that interacts with the brain to cause behavior.

All the rest of the world was mechanical and therefore subjected to the laws of physics. Here the scientific image could be applied.

And that has put us up with the typical problem of Dualism: how can mind and body interact, when they are such different realms?

Interactionism is the view that mind and body — or mental events and physical events — causally influence each other.

That this is so is one of our common-sense beliefs, because it appears to be a feature of everyday experience.

This belief in the interaction between the mental and the physical is based on something stronger than predicate dualism: property dualism.

Whereas predicate dualism says that there are two essentially different kinds of predicates in our language,

property dualism says that there are two essentially different kinds of property out in the world.

In the case of mind, property dualism is defended by those who argue that the qualitative nature of consciousness

is not merely another way of categorizing states of the brain or of behavior, but a genuinely emergent phenomenon.

In other words, although the scientific image looks so plausible and we so easily can point at flaws in the manifest image, it doesn't mean that we can dispose of dualism that easily.

To be continued…. (^_^)

The Discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks..go ahead :-)
[13:23] RF Axel: Can't you argue that physics gives way to chemiry when you get complex interactions of atoms, and chemistry gives way to biology similarly?
[13:23] herman Bergson: Yes RF...
[13:23] RF Axel: So, maybe biology gives way to mental phenomena?
[13:24] herman Bergson: it is a common concept that micro systems create new states in macro systems...
[13:24] herman Bergson: Like water molecules 'create' liquidity inunder certain circumstances...
[13:25] Mick Nerido: In an infinite universe, that science has yet to fully discover how it works the mind body dualism is also up for discussion...
[13:25] Doodus Moose: "a mind is not a container to be filled, but a fire to be set alight"
[13:25] RF Axel: And the movement of molecules creates 'heat'?
[13:25] herman Bergson: in that sense....our brain can "create' the minds as a feature of its matter
[13:25] Doodus Moose: there seems to be a "fire" burning in our minds that is not simply biologically deterministic
[13:26] Mick Nerido: Fire + soul
[13:26] Mick Nerido: =
[13:26] herman Bergson: We have a natural inclination to think in dualistic terms about ourself....the manifest image
[13:26] herman Bergson: the scientific image tells a different story, it seems
[13:27] RF Axel: Or, the world is a mostly consistent illusion created to entertain and educate our spirits? :)
[13:27] herman Bergson: That is the Matrix RF :-)
[13:27] Doodus Moose: again, our concern for others is simply biological development?
[13:27] Doodus Moose: ... or abstraction?
[13:28] herman Bergson: I would call that biological Doodus....a product of evolution
[13:28] herman Bergson: We are social animals
[13:28] RF Axel: "Other" is dangerous - overcoming that and increasing the size of "us" is arguably moral development?
[13:28] Kyra Neutron: just in right time...yes we are animals :)
[13:28] Doodus Moose: some more than others :-)
[13:29] Kyra Neutron: wana feel the hooves?
[13:29] herman Bergson smiles
[13:29] Kyra Neutron: :)
[13:29] Doodus Moose:
[13:29] herman Bergson: Behave Kyra :-)
[13:29] Kyra Neutron: grins..ok ok
[13:29] Kyra Neutron: :)))
[13:29] RF Axel: So, when does the desire to treat pigs as fellow being overcome the smell of bacon? :)
[13:30] Doodus Moose: at about mealtime, methinks
[13:30] Julie Bluebird (lolli.bluebird): Ha ha ha
[13:30] Kyra Neutron: when you lower yourself to animal state?
[13:30] herman Bergson: We are animals +
[13:30] RF Axel: I could claim robots would transcend the animal state. :)
[13:30] RF Axel: state*
[13:31] Mick Nerido: could robots be conscious?
[13:31] Kyra Neutron: and we are more than animals...? hmm what can it be? sun...stars...universe...oh my ...god itself? o.O
[13:31] herman Bergson: Well...that is still questionable RF
[13:31] herman Bergson: No Kyra...simply Consciousness :-)
[13:31] RF Axel: It seems likely that robots could behave in a way that migt be thought to be conscious.
[13:31] Kyra Neutron: you are %90 percent unscouious…
[13:32] Kyra Neutron: strange
[13:32] herman Bergson: It may look like that RF but it isn't consciousness at all
[13:32] Kyra Neutron: referring to robots...
[13:32] RF Axel: Conscious, rational, thought is "expensive" - you don't have enough resource to actually think about things, most of the time. :)
[13:32] Kyra Neutron: the scients are aiming to capture soul and make it "eternal"
[13:33] Kyra Neutron: which leads humanity ending as cyborgs...
[13:33] RF Axel: Most of your behaviour is learned habits/reflexes, and, you hope that when you learned them enough rationality went into the learning.
[13:34] herman Bergson: Yes I read about that Kyra....not a pleasant future, I would say...
[13:34] herman Bergson: besides it implies a big problem..
[13:34] Kyra Neutron: long
[13:34] Kyra Neutron: :)
[13:34] Doodus Moose: think of all the batteries needed !!
[13:34] herman Bergson: if humans get eternal life....and you continue to have children....all eternally staying on this planet....
[13:35] herman Bergson: How do you plan to manage that?
[13:35] Kyra Neutron: children..eggs...
[13:35] Kyra Neutron: as the new brave world
[13:35] RF Axel: You may find more of what makes you "you", actually in tools you use, "Google" is just the start of that, instead of inside your head.
[13:35] Kyra Neutron: but a robotic one...
[13:35] Kyra Neutron: not biological designed first
[13:35] Kyra Neutron: (lag)
[13:36] RF Axel: Books are arguably cyborg extensions, as it writing/reading...
[13:36] Doodus Moose: RF - yes. what's on your hard drive, or your inventory here in SL
[13:36] RF Axel: as is*
[13:36] Kyra Neutron: books..are not body parts
[13:36] Kyra Neutron: and dont let you transfer to another place...or time..
[13:37] herman Bergson: Well before we get lost in a cyborg thing, lets focus first on the brain - mind relation :-)
[13:37] Kyra Neutron: so no cyborgs ...
[13:37] Kyra Neutron: books are the form of pure human intellect..
[13:37] Kyra Neutron: oks..brain-mind
[13:37] RF Axel: How much of our mind is in our bodies and artifacts?
[13:38] herman Bergson: We still have no real understanding of the realtion between brain and mind
[13:38] RF Axel: Do the positions of (familiar) things around you act as part of your mind, your mental behaviour?
[13:38] Mick Nerido: Consciousness is just the brains best effort to understand itself...
[13:39] herman Bergson: That may be so Mick, but that doesnt explain to us what Consciousness is
[13:39] RF Axel: There is some evidence that the brain attempts to model & predict the world.
[13:40] RF Axel: And, one of the things the brain models is the body (and hence itself).
[13:40] herman Bergson: Oh sure RF...
[13:40] Mick Nerido: As in insight ... perhaps we are beginning to wake up to a new reality slowly...
[13:40] RF Axel: So, identity is the realization that there is self and other? And, consciousness is the modeling of self?
[13:41] Kyra Neutron: or identity is only the way of "alienation" ?
[13:41] herman Bergson: Identity and Self are difficult concepts RF
[13:41] Mick Nerido: Yes self and other being connected
[13:42] Kyra Neutron: nods
[13:42] RF Axel: I suspect that identity is a constructed thing, though, we may perceive it as unitary.
[13:42] herman Bergson: The self is hard to define....
[13:42] Kyra Neutron: easy...
[13:42] Kyra Neutron: let me
[13:42] herman Bergson: We'll get to that chapter later :-)
[13:42] Kyra Neutron: what you felt?
[13:43] herman Bergson: Nothing?
[13:43] Kyra Neutron: :)
[13:43] Doodus Moose: :-0
[13:43] RF Axel: Self is the bit of the world that bumps into things, and falls over stuff in the dark? :)
[13:43] Kyra Neutron: oks..the things that threaten your territory..are others..
[13:43] Kyra Neutron: you do not FEEL yourself
[13:43] herman Bergson: I would say that that is the body RF
[13:44] Kyra Neutron: :)
[13:44] RF Axel: Lots of people equate body (boundaries) with self... Though, they may add possession (like cars) to that...
[13:45] Kyra Neutron: rf
[13:45] Mick Nerido: We are all one, self separates, conciousness attempts to reconnect
[13:45] Kyra Neutron: self and others are between living things
[13:45] herman Bergson: Yes RF,but that is a matter of psychology....that is not a philosophical analysis of the self
[13:45] Kyra Neutron: objects are the "hands" of yourself also
[13:45] Kyra Neutron: including cars
[13:45] Kyra Neutron: chairs
[13:45] Kyra Neutron: etc...
[13:45] RF Axel: There is evidence that people treat tools as extebsions of "self".
[13:46] Kyra Neutron: so they are fun
[13:46] Kyra Neutron: :)
[13:46] herman Bergson: Not a single psychologist ever has done research on The Self
[13:46] herman Bergson: on features of the person , yes..
[13:46] Kyra Neutron: it is a simple fact
[13:46] Kyra Neutron: "you"
[13:46] RF Axel: Neuro psychologies are quite interested in the boundaries of "self". :)
[13:46] herman Bergson: intelligence, emotions, drives etc...
[13:46] Kyra Neutron: do not feel yourself as "threat"
[13:46] RF Axel: psychologists*
[13:46] Kyra Neutron: this is why cancer can cover your body.
[13:46] Kyra Neutron: because it is simply you.
[13:47] Doodus Moose: ?
[13:47] Kyra Neutron: i defined what is "self".
[13:47] Kyra Neutron: rest is up to you
[13:47] herman Bergson: I suggest that we spend special lectures to Teh Self and Personal Identity....
[13:47] RF Axel: Cancer is bit of you stopping paying the together game with the rest of you...
[13:47] RF Axel: bits*
[13:47] herman Bergson: It already has a long history in philosophy......:-)
[13:47] RF Axel: playing*
[13:48] Kyra Neutron: oks..starting with jason bourne?
[13:48] Kyra Neutron: would love to attend one on that class
[13:48] herman Bergson: Ye sok...The Bourne Identity first...
[13:48] Kyra Neutron: great ! :)
[13:48] RF Axel: Poor Bourne...
[13:48] Kyra Neutron: me will be the priest!
[13:48] Kyra Neutron: :))))
[13:48] herman Bergson: ok...
[13:49] Kyra Neutron: ah come on rf...i ll honor bourne with the high white collar !
[13:49] herman Bergson: Then ..let me thank you all for your participation....
[13:49] RF Axel: So, mind, I claim, can functionally extend beyond the body. And, not in a psychic/mystical way.
[13:49] Doodus Moose: my mind hurts
[13:49] herman Bergson: Thursday we'll continue our quest into the brain - mind...
[13:49] Kyra Neutron: bows...uw..herman...
[13:49] herman Bergson: Class dismissed..^_^
[13:49] Kyra Neutron: hopefully me wont be around to mess :)
[13:49] Doodus Moose: thanks, Professor
[13:49] Julie Bluebird (lolli.bluebird): Thank you herman , very interesting.
[13:50] Mick Nerido: Thanks for messing with my mind
[13:50] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): very interesting and difficult subject
[13:50] Kyra Neutron: waves :)
[13:50] herman Bergson: My pleasure Mick ^_^
[13:51] Doodus Moose: i just saw the two philosophers on "the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy" last night, and had a good laugh
[13:51] Doodus Moose: (or not)
[13:52] herman Bergson: Havent seen it myself Doodus
[13:52] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): i have to go...thank you Herman for this intersting lecture
[13:52] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): jump for joy?
[13:52] Doodus Moose: time - to..... depart.......
[13:52] herman Bergson: Bye Beertje :-)
[13:52] Doodus Moose: byeeeee!!!!
[13:53] herman Bergson: No the classic Linden Jump for you :-)
[13:53] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): laughs:))
[13:53] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): goodnight..i will see you thursday
[13:53] RF Axel: Thanks for talk.
[13:53] Julie Bluebird (lolli.bluebird): Thanks again and nice meeting you herman :-)
[13:53] herman Bergson: My pleasure Julie
[13:54] herman Bergson: I hope you liked it
[13:54] RF Axel: I need to present something to a philosophy class on "consciousness", and, I'm a bit apprehensive. :)
[13:54] Julie Bluebird (lolli.bluebird): Hopefully see you again. Bye for now
[13:54] RF Axel: But, you talk have given me a few ideas. :)
[13:54] RF Axel: your*
[13:54] herman Bergson: Bye Julie
[13:54] herman Bergson: go to my blog...
[13:54] herman Bergson:
[13:55] herman Bergson: there you find all lectures
[13:55] RF Axel: Yes, I plan to re-read your blog.
[13:55] Julie Bluebird (lolli.bluebird): Thanks for the invite - nice lecture and people :-)
[13:55] herman Bergson: this project started with lecture 266
[13:55] RF Axel: Mostly I'm going to go for the scientific approach, I think.
[13:55] RF Axel: Thanks for pointer.
[13:55] Doodus Moose: it can take many forms - from readily understandable, to head-smokers
[13:56] Doodus Moose: like i said - my mind hurts :-)
[13:56] Julie Bluebird (lolli.bluebird): it's all the building you o probably in the day time :-)
[13:56] Doodus Moose: too many moving things - so many collisions :-)
[13:57] Julie Bluebird (lolli.bluebird): Ha ha ha
[13:57] Julie Bluebird (lolli.bluebird): I'd better go before I outstay my welcome.
[13:57] Doodus Moose: it's close to mealtime (again) over here.
[13:58] Doodus Moose: well - you know where you can find me :-)

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