Monday, September 26, 2011

Lecture 346: What if the mind is a property of the brain?

Today I want to present to you a very common explanation of consciousness. Consciousness has different meanings. We are conscious or asleep, for instance.

But in our discourse I define consciousness as a personal realm of subjective experiences… that is….what I hear,smell, taste, feel and see. Some philosophers call it "phenomenal consciousness"

Let's look at a general process…. Your eyes see a bird. The image is projected on the retina in the eye. The data are transmitted to the brain and in the brain you have the image of that bird.

"I can picture it in my mind.." is a common expression. What it all boils down to is the common sense theory of the Inner Theater. We tend to believe that we are a kind of watching an inner screen.

Is consciousness indeed something like that. Does the Inner Theater theory explain consciousness?

The odd thing with this common believe about consciousness and how it works, is, that everybody can see that it is completely false, that the brain doesn't work like that, but yet love to use it.

There is plenty of empirical counter-evidence. The cutaneous rabbit illusion, for instance, is a tactile illusion evoked by tapping two separate regions of the skin.

A rapid sequence of taps delivered first near the wrist, and then near the elbow creates the sensation of sequential taps hopping up the arm from the wrist towards the elbow, although no physical stimulus was applied between the two actual stimulus locations.

If there is an inner theater of consciousness at which we receive sensory messages from the outlying senses, the images should show up on the screen in the order they come in from the exterior sources.

But that is not the case at all… Say you feel 12 taps on your arm, moving from wrist to elbow. Only tap 1, 6 and 12 are real taps. The brain fills in tap 3, 4 and 6. But how can it do that, if it not also knows tap 6?

Likewise we have auditory illusions where the brain fools us with respect to the order of incoming sensory data. A sound that seems to move through the room from the left to the right speaker and back, for instance.

A movie is a series of still images, but yet we see movement. We have a plethora of visual tricks, which create illusions that only can be cooked up by the brain by manipulating the order of the incoming data. Movies and TV are the simplest examples.

Ok…Let's test the inner theater some more. Imagine a soldier. There he is on your inner screen, standing there with his weapon.

Now answer a few questions honestly. Don't fill them in flanks after the question. You have to know the answer , that is see your soldier, before I ask the question.

[13:21] herman Bergson: have imagined your soldier...on your inner screen?
[13:21] Lizzy Pleides: yes
[13:21] Pirie Takacs: Yes

Has your soldier scares? Are there decorations and medals on his uniform jacket? Does he wear a helmet? What color is his jacket? And his pants? Are there buttons on his jacket and if how many?

If you were looking at a real picture you could have answered all the questions easily, but that is not how imagination works…there is no inner screen with a picture.

[13:22] herman Bergson: I guess you had no answer to a few of the questions
[13:22] Lizzy Pleides: if i look at my inner screen i cant answer all questions
[13:23] herman Bergson: exactly...
[13:23] Sybyle Perdide: nods
[13:23] Mick Nerido: mine was a green toy solder
[13:23] herman Bergson: because there is no inner screen :-)

Where do you think your inner theater is???
Yes…in your head…somewhere behind your eyes, isn't it?

That believe is just a cultural indoctrination. The Egyptians mummified their pharaos. Mummified the heart, the liver and kidneys, but removed the brain from the skull….useless in an afterlife. That was not the place where the mind resides, according to them.

In neurobiology we find no indication of a location in the brain where all things come together as in an inner theater in the brain.

There are motoric areas, language areas and so on in the brain, but not some kind of central unifying processor.

The inner theater idea works only for sight. If it were a correct description of consciousness it should work for all senses. But what pictures do you see with taste or smell?

When the eye sees something, the image is said to be projected on the inner screen. But then there must be somebody who is watching that screen! The inner me! And should that inner me not have its own Inner Theater too with an inner me2, watching …and so on?

A dead end street, it seems. This theory doesn't answer our questions. Dualism wasn't an answer either. So we might end up with the conclusion, that the mind is a property, a feature of the brain.

That offers us a mountain of new questions…..

The Discussion

[13:28] herman Bergson: So much on our first attempt to close in on consciousness...
[13:29] herman Bergson: The floor is yours....
[13:29] Doodus Moose: sometimes, when i fall asleep -
[13:29] Doodus Moose: and start to dream - i can see an image form
[13:29] Doodus Moose: ...but immediately wake up
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: (sorry have to leave - real life needs me - have a good discussion all)
[13:29] Doodus Moose: a VERY crude version of this image stays in my "eyes" if i keep them closed
[13:30] herman Bergson: Well Doodus...
[13:30] herman Bergson: Maybe it is not an image, but a description....
[13:30] herman Bergson: a description is always incomplete...
[13:30] herman Bergson: Like you imagined the soldier...
[13:30] herman Bergson: it wasn't a clean clear cut picture...
[13:30] Doodus Moose: it's monochrome (usually brownish), and mostly outlines
[13:30] herman Bergson: but you could have given a description
[13:31] Lizzy Pleides: i think our brain is lazy and only sees some features
[13:31] Doodus Moose: yes
[13:31] Mick Nerido: illiterate people "see" the world differently.
[13:31] herman Bergson: to call the brain lazy is an evaluation produced by the brain….funny :-)
[13:31] Qwark Allen: ehehhe
[13:31] Lizzy Pleides: lol
[13:32] herman Bergson: I don't call my brain lazy ^_^
[13:32] Qwark Allen: we don`t see the all picture, we focalize
[13:32] Qwark Allen: then the brain fills the blank points
[13:32] Qwark Allen: very complex
[13:32] herman Bergson: we don't see pictures at all I would say Qwark...
[13:32] Mick Nerido: we see what we think is there...the gorella in the room experiment..
[13:33] herman Bergson: We can give descriptions of things we imagine
[13:33] Qwark Allen: we have a restricted vision of the surrounding
[13:33] Qwark Allen: we see a infidecimal part of nature
[13:33] Doodus Moose: does self-hypnosis play in the theater of the mind?
[13:33] Doodus Moose: (or hypnosis, for that matter)
[13:33] Qwark Allen: cause of our restricted vision
[13:34] Lizzy Pleides: isn't it a special quality to imagine more than average?
[13:34] herman Bergson: Well, Lizzy, I would say that artists do?
[13:34] Lizzy Pleides: yes, i would say that
[13:35] herman Bergson: But the main point is, that our consciousness is not a kind of screen we are looking at
[13:35] Sybyle Perdide: nods
[13:35] herman Bergson: in the brain there even is a part that can be pointed out as the unifying control center...
[13:36] herman Bergson: this is a great mystery of the brain...
[13:36] herman Bergson: Francis Crick (if I spell his name right)
[13:36] Mick Nerido: What is control center?
[13:37] Sybyle Perdide: its not only controlling, it also selects and combines, I would say
[13:37] herman Bergson: has the theory that tis unity occurs when certain parts of the brain all are at 40Mhz vibrairion or so...
[13:37] herman Bergson: Well, Mick...
[13:37] herman Bergson: You experience yourself as a whole..a unity...
[13:38] herman Bergson: but in brainscans they can't find that ONE spot...where all comes together
[13:38] herman Bergson: so
[13:38] herman Bergson: our consciousness tells us we are one...
[13:39] herman Bergson: but physiologically in the brain...there is not such a thing
[13:39] herman Bergson: just a multitude of areas that fire
[13:39] lentelies Anatine is Offline
[13:40] herman Bergson: The difficulty of the question after consciousness is really breath taking...
[13:40] herman Bergson: But I wont give up ^_^
[13:40] herman Bergson: Next lecture on coming Thursday ^_^
[13:41] Doodus Moose: (just to share)
[13:41] Doodus Moose: i had a vision of a wall of glass
[13:41] Doodus Moose: along with the vision was orders to build a house
[13:41] Qwark Allen: was very interesting today herman
[13:41] Doodus Moose: i'm ill-equipped to do so,
[13:41] Adriana Jinn: it is really interesting
[13:41] Doodus Moose: but..... today i live in that house (which i designed)
[13:42] herman Bergson: ok Doodus
[13:42] Lizzy Pleides: it is an exciting theme
[13:42] Sybyle Perdide: will you continue this, herman?
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes Lizzy and we are closing in on the hot spot of it...:-)
[13:42] Pirie Takacs: You say that unity occurs after - is it some- parts of the brain fire at 40mhz, couldnt it be that the whole of the brain IS the centre of unity?
[13:43] herman Bergson: But of course Sybyle...
[13:43] herman Bergson: We only saw the top of the iceberg
[13:43] Adriana Jinn: that is such a difficult theme
[13:43] Sybyle Perdide: yay
[13:43] Adriana Jinn: but real interesting
[13:43] Lizzy Pleides: and i hope we are not the titanic
[13:43] Mick Nerido: Yes Pirie!
[13:44] herman Bergson: yes it is difficult...but a worthwhile challenge!
[13:44] herman Bergson: Ah Pirie....see your remark
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes of course it is the whole brain....
[13:45] herman Bergson: but that doesn't explain a thing about consciousness
[13:45] Pirie Takacs: Then why are we looking for one spot?
[13:45] Mot Mann is Online
[13:45] herman Bergson: nor the feeling we have to be ONE identity
[13:45] Qwark Allen: i have to go
[13:45] Lizzy Pleides: TC qwark
[13:45] Qwark Allen: looking forward for next lecture
[13:45] Qwark Allen: see you tuesday
[13:45] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:45] Qwark Allen: ty
[13:45] Qwark Allen: see you all sooon
[13:45] Mick Nerido: Bye
[13:46] herman Bergson: Bye Qwark!
[13:46] herman Bergson: No is the other way around...
[13:46] herman Bergson: we experience ourselves as a one...
[13:46] herman Bergson: when you look at the brain....
[13:47] herman Bergson: there is nowhere on fMRI scans one big red dot all the time present...
[13:47] herman Bergson: just a number of firing areas...
[13:47] Pirie Takacs nods
[13:48] Doodus Moose: like a lightning storm (almost)
[13:48] herman Bergson: so on the one hand we may say that I am my brain...
[13:48] Kicki Spingflower is Online
[13:48] Sybyle Perdide: may I ask..
[13:48] herman Bergson: on the other hand I dont know how my brain generates this one personal identity experience
[13:48] herman Bergson: what we call self awareness
[13:49] herman Bergson: You had a question Sybyle
[13:49] Sybyle Perdide: what about babies?
[13:50] Sybyle Perdide: do they see themselves also as aunit?
[13:50] Sybyle Perdide: or must they learn
[13:50] Janette Shim is Offline
[13:50] herman Bergson: a difficult question.....
[13:51] herman Bergson: the human being is after birth a developing organism
[13:51] herman Bergson: self awareness and a feeling of personal identity...the THIS IS ME feeling emerges during the development of the organism
[13:52] herman Bergson: The only thing you can say for sure is, that it will emerge eventually in every human being
[13:52] herman Bergson: I mean....that is what the brain develops into...
[13:52] Sybyle Perdide: thank you
[13:53] Doodus Moose: "the human mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be set alight"
[13:53] herman Bergson: that is a nice metaphor Doodus...
[13:54] SonolaLuna Greymoon is Online
[13:54] herman Bergson: the human being , from birth, is a developing organism in interaction with its environment and learning to survive
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate is Online
[13:54] Lizzy Pleides: can we say the brain is always in a changing process that never ends?
[13:55] herman Bergson: If you look at evolution Lizzy, the answer should be YES...
[13:55] Doodus Moose: thanks everyone, for a good discussion ;-)
[13:55] Pirie Takacs: Surely it must be the firing of the brain as a whole, so maybe it is a mistake to look for the 'one' place, I am thinking. Maybe the entire function of the brain is to 'be' us, and the parts we can isolate and attribute our separate functioning processes to are just that, only parts that make up the reason our brain exists in the first place - to run our bodies and to give us a sense of 'self' or consciousness? I apologise if my question sounds silly.
[13:55] herman Bergson: thank you Doodus
[13:55] Yakuzza Lethecus is Offline
[13:56] herman Bergson: smiles at Pirie....
[13:57] herman Bergson: You just committed a sin ^_^
[13:57] Pirie Takacs blushes
[13:57] herman Bergson: Even though your name tag says Innocent ...:-)
[13:57] liessllvontrapp Resident is Offline
[13:57] herman Bergson: You offended against ~rule 5 :-)
[13:58] Pirie Takacs: Maybe I should change it to dumb, as a warning... *smiles contritely
[13:58] herman Bergson: no no....dont!
[13:58] herman Bergson: We are a small group no problem...
[13:58] ellenilli Lavendel is Offline
[13:59] Pirie Takacs: Well.. I just have a problem with philosophy at times being a little less than practical, for me :)
[13:59] herman Bergson: I only mean that it doesnt work to drop large peices of text in a discussion like this...
[13:59] Pirie Takacs: I do apologise
[14:00] herman Bergson: no is are rather new here...
[14:00] herman Bergson: you are excused
[14:00] Pirie Takacs: I only asked because I thought we could
[14:00] Omei Qunhua is Online
[14:00] Pirie Takacs: It is my first visit, yes
[14:00] Adriana Jinn: even if you are there since sometime it is not easy
[14:01] Adriana Jinn: grrr
[14:01] Adriana Jinn: the english is not easy for me so I dont talk but listening
[14:01] herman Bergson: philosophy isn't less than practical...
[14:01] herman Bergson: In fact it is at the heart of things...
[14:02] herman Bergson: To question the obvious...
[14:02] Pirie Takacs: I agree we need to think about things, but sometimes we need to alter our approach to a question also, I think.
[14:02] herman Bergson: what do you mean by that Pirie?
[14:03] herman Bergson: alter our approach to a question
[14:03] Pirie Takacs: Well, if we continue to look at a problem the same way and can't find an answer like that, maybe we need to look at the problem from a new angle?
[14:03] Adriana Jinn: it is very interesting but unfortunately have to go
[14:04] Adriana Jinn: thanks a lot herman see you soon
[14:04] Adriana Jinn: bye bye all
[14:04] Sybyle Perdide: au revoir Adriana
[14:04] Pirie Takacs: Bye :)
[14:04] herman Bergson: Bye Adriana
[14:04] Lizzy Pleides: bye Adriana
[14:04] Adriana Jinn: au revoir
[14:04] herman Bergson: Ohhh....
[14:04] herman Bergson: there you really hit bull's eye Pirie!
[14:05] herman Bergson: We have our language...
[14:05] herman Bergson: our way to describe mental things like emotions, experiences and so on..
[14:06] herman Bergson: But is it the right way of describing things?
[14:06] herman Bergson: Don't we need another "language" to describe the ways of the brain?
[14:06] herman Bergson: For example....
[14:07] Omei Qunhua is Offline
[14:07] herman Bergson: in the Middle Ages all kinds of things happened because of curses by whitches
[14:07] herman Bergson: illnesses were send by god to punish the sinners...
[14:07] herman Bergson: today we speak a totally different language....
[14:08] herman Bergson: illensses are caused by virusses
[14:08] herman Bergson: we dont cure them by endless praying..we use antibiotics..
[14:08] Pirie Takacs chuckles.. Some people still believe illnesses are sent by gods to punish us :)
[14:09] herman Bergson: sighs...
[14:09] herman Bergson: I know :-)
[14:09] Pirie Takacs: And such is the power of the mind that sometimes prayer does seem to 'cure' you... *smiles
[14:09] Pirie Takacs: I know what you are saying, but I was thinking more of asking the questions from another angle.
[14:09] herman Bergson: True...I admit that we do not at all understand the working of the mind
[14:09] Pirie Takacs: Possibly, but also in the questions we ask about the brain. If thinking there 'must' be a centre where our consciousness springs from is maybe an assumption only?
[14:10] herman Bergson: is ...produced by that same brain...
[14:10] herman Bergson: so we have to find some explanation for it...
[14:11] herman Bergson: We still have a lot of lectures to go ^_^
[14:11] Sybyle Perdide: smiles
[14:11] Sybyle Perdide: I hope so
[14:11] Lizzy Pleides: yes we have , thank you for this lesson today Herman
[14:11] herman Bergson: oh ..dont worry Sybyle ^_^
[14:12] Pirie Takacs: K. I hope I can make it to all of them :)
[14:12] herman Bergson: My pleasure Lizzy!
[14:12] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment