Wednesday, October 12, 2011

352: The Brain and the Identity Theory 1

Very roughly, the identity theory asserts that the mind is the brain.More precisely, it claims that mental states are physical states of the brain.The qualification 'physical' is important.

After all,property dualism asserts that mental states are properties of the brain. However,according to property dualism, mental states are nonphysical properties of the brain.

Conseqently,if the identity theory is to be distinct from property dualism,it must assert that mental states are physical states of the brain.

Maybe you have an intuitive notion of agreeing with this idea: the mind is the brain. At least you have been softened up to get used to this idea by the media.

The brain is hot these days. To give you some examples. I got an offer of a trial subscription to a news weekly.

When I would accept I also would receive a 100 pages full color magazine titled "The brain", subtitle: "Everything you need to know about the brain, how it operate and how to keep it sharp."

I read two newspapers and both newspapers found it news to report on a publication in the professional magazine "Nature Neuroscience".

It is about the fact that we actually are born optimists. From psychology we already know for decades that we are.

Most people think, that misery, diseases and accidents always happen to others, never to themselves.

The newspaper article reveals, that this optimism isn't just a mental state, no…it is hard wired in the brain.

With fMRI scans neuroscientists have discovered that only when positive messages are received the prefrontal cortex really comes into action.

Test persons were asked to estimate their chances on all kinds of misery, from accidents to Alzheimer. Then they were confronted with the real statistics.

Asked a second time to estimate their chances, those who had mentioned higher chances than statistics predicted, adjusted their guess properly.

However those who had estimated their chances on misery lower than statistics predicted, stuck to their lower estimations with only a little adjustment.

The brain scans showed that when test persons had to adjust their estimation downward, their prefrontal cortex showed lots of activity.

But when they had to adjust their estimation upward to get in line with the statistics, most of the test persons just ignored that information and showed little activity in the prefrontal cortex.

You can imagine that when you get such information from the media continuously, unconsciously you are softened up to accept the idea that the brain is the mind.

The idea that mental states are brain states is not new.The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (l588-1679) and his French contemporary Pierre Gassendi (l592-1655) both made the claim more than three hundred years ago.

However, the idea wasn't carefully expressed and defended until the 1950s when a group of Australian philosophers including J.J.C.Smart explored the idea.

I searched my bookshelves and found it, bought in September 1976: "A Materialist Theory of the Mind" by D.M. Armstrong (1968).

I really get nostalgic, when after I guess a 30 years or so I read the first lines of the 'Acknowledgements": "Professor J.J. Smart converted me to the view, defended in this book, that mental states are nothing but physical states of the brain" (University of Sydney).

Next lecture we'll have a detailed look at the Identity Theory. In the meantime, you just keep an eye on how often you read or see in the media messages, that support the idea that the mind is the brain.

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you....
[13:21] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T * ::::::::::
[13:21] Qwark Allen: :-)
[13:21] herman Bergson: Feel free to drop some remarks or questions ㋡
[13:22] herman Bergson: the floor is yours
[13:22] Qwark Allen: in a way it`s how media explore us, to get the message they want to us
[13:22] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman - rl needs me - have a good time everyone
[13:22] Bibbe Oh: ciao
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: Ciska
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: cu
[13:22] Qwark Allen: manipulation of the message
[13:22] herman Bergson: Yes Qwark...the media play an important role in shaping our thinking
[13:23] Mick Nerido: Why do you thing we are hard wired optimists?
[13:23] herman Bergson: Just go to the bookstore and look how many books there are on the brian and the mind
[13:23] Bibbe Oh: and in triggering primal response systems to manipulate our behavior
[13:23] herman Bergson: Well Mick....I think because evolutionary this has an advantage
[13:24] Qwark Allen: bad brains don`t procreate ehehhe
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: heheh
[13:24] herman Bergson: When the brain closes itself for negative information....we stay explorers and curious after new things
[13:24] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): the neurosicences research are feeding these ideologies, but in other country they say that the mind isn't the brain but a physical extention... since we cant see its invisible part, where is the mind….core….if the brian is the feet sort of
[13:24] Bibbe Oh: some of these attached to autonomic functioning, hormone release, fight or flight, and these give rise to "feelings" which many identify as being the true self
[13:24] Mick Nerido: The glass is half full..
[13:25] Bibbe Oh: though they are products of the body regulatory systems
[13:26] herman Bergson: yes Bibbe is what they call the reptilian brain or limbic system in our head
[13:26] Bibbe Oh: yes
[13:26] Bibbe Oh: lizard and dog brains
[13:26] Rodney Handrick is Online
[13:27] herman Bergson: And yes Alaya....we should keep a sharp eye on the question what is science and what is ideology...
[13:27] herman Bergson: As I said...the continuing information in the media.....
[13:28] herman Bergson: on the one hand science...on the other hand…well…a specific view of reality
[13:28] Mick Nerido: There is so much more information faster than ever now...
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes is all under our fingertips now
[13:29] herman Bergson: And in our case....
[13:29] herman Bergson: the materialist theory of mind conflicts with a lot of metaphysical beliefs
[13:30] herman Bergson: But I notice that you don't worry too much about least not yet :-)
[13:31] herman Bergson: Well... I guess that all was quite clear then today
[13:32] herman Bergson: unless some one still has a question or remark?
[13:32] herman Bergson: Ok... let's have an easy day :-)
[13:33] Mick Nerido: Thanks good session
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:33] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation
[13:33] Lizzy Pleides: thank you Herman
[13:33] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ㋡
[13:33] Bibbe Oh: thank you!
[13:33] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): i didn't hear much metaphysic data recently
[13:34] herman Bergson: Thursday will be more difficult , so be prepared ^_^
[13:34] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): i ll keep an open eye
[13:34] Lizzy Pleides: good byee everybody
[13:34] Qwark Allen: yes indeed
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: cu all
[13:34] Qwark Allen: very interesting
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: 9
[13:34] herman Bergson: No Alaya, today it was rather quiet on the metaphysical front
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:35] Qwark Allen: there wasn't much to go in that direction
[13:35] herman Bergson: no...
[13:35] Qwark Allen: agains't facts, not much arguments
[13:35] Qwark Allen: eheheh
[13:35] Bibbe Oh: pretty straightforward
[13:35] herman Bergson: true....
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:35] Qwark Allen: at least in what concerns the physiology of the brain
[13:36] Qwark Allen: ㋡ ˜*•. ˜”*°•.˜”*°• Helloooooo! •°*”˜.•°*”˜ .•*˜ ㋡
[13:36] Qwark Allen: Hey! rodney
[13:36] Qwark Allen: just in time
[13:36] Qwark Allen: eheheh
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: 9
[13:36] Rodney Handrick: Hi Qwark
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: hi Rodney
[13:36] herman Bergson: I thought it was interesting to show you how often you are exposed these days to a specific theory of the mind in the media
[13:36] Rodney Handrick: hi Bejiita
[13:36] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): are yuo the one who always come at the exact last minut rodney?
[13:36] Qwark Allen: indeed
[13:36] Qwark Allen: ehehehhe
[13:36] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:36] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:36] herman Bergson: Hi Rodney...
[13:37] Rodney Handrick: Not sure
[13:37] Rodney Handrick: Hi Herman
[13:37] herman Bergson: Yes Alaya…Rodney comes always too late ^_^
[13:37] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): aw, then it wasn't you, there was one….that i forgot the name
[13:37] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): was it, lol
[13:37] Rodney Handrick: HA HA HA HA HA
[13:37] herman Bergson: Yes That is our Rodney...
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: hehehe
[13:37] Rodney Handrick: HA HA HA HA HA
[13:37] Qwark Allen: so funny that smile rodney
[13:37] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): ♦♫♦.。・*゜*・。.♦♫♦♪♥❢APPLAUSE❢❤♪♦♫♦♫.。・*゜*・。.♦♫♦
[13:38] Qwark Allen: allways makes me laught
[13:38] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:38] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:38] herman Bergson: no one better in timing than he! ㋡
[13:38] Rodney Handrick: :-)
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:38] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): well ill nick name my son rodney, than, he does the same
[13:38] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:39] herman Bergson: an honor to Rodney I guess !
[13:39] Alaya Chépaspourquoi (alaya.kumaki): ^^

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