Thursday, November 3, 2011

357: The Brain and a look inside

If we wish to know what is going on in someone else’s mind, we must observe their behavior; on the basis of what we observe, we may sometimes reasonably draw a conclusion about the person’s mental state.

Thus, for example, on seeing someone smile, we infer that they are happy; on seeing someone scowl, we infer that they are upset.

But this is not, at least typically, the way in which we come to know our own mental states. We do not need to examine our own behavior in order to know how we feel, what we believe, what we want and so on.

Our understanding of these things is more direct than our understanding of the mental states of others, it seems.

The term used to describe this special mode of access which we seem to have to our own mental states is ‘introspection’.

A view which takes its inspiration from Descartes (1596 - 1650) holds that introspection provides us with infallible and complete access to our states of mind. On this view, introspection provides us with a foundation for our knowledge of the physical world.

Thence we come to know the physical world by first coming to recognize certain features of our mind, namely, the sensations which physical objects excite in us, and then drawing conclusions about the likely source of these mental states.

Our knowledge of the physical world is thus indirect; it is grounded in the direct knowledge we have of our own minds.

The view that introspection provides an infallible and complete picture of the mind, however, is no longer widely accepted.

On current accounts, introspection gives us access to only a very small corner of the mental world - comparable to the access unaided vision provides us to chemical processes. By far the greatest part of our mental life is simply inaccessible to introspection.

In the nineteenth century, Franz Brentano (1838 - 1917) and other philosophical psychologists were at pains to distinguish introspection, sometimes called inner observation, from its close relative, self-consciousness, sometimes called inner perception.

Introspection was a deliberate act of focusing a subject’s attention on some inhabitant in his stream of consciousness.

Self-consciousness was an indeliberate but inescapable, though partial, concomitant awareness on the part of a subject.

Early psychological introspectionists, such as Wilhelm Wundt and William James, believed that either introspection proper or some version of self-consciousness was the only possible method for inaugurating a truly empirical, that is, scientific, psychology.

It has shown to be a complete failure. The experiments they did, didn't offer much of interest. Besides that, the different schools disagreed on a lot of issues. There was no unified theory on introspection.

Surprisingly, the failure of introspectionism did not lead many people to question the inherent model of introspection.

The model of the inner eye scanning the mind and observing the mental states is still alive. Even a Daniel Dennett (1942 - …) describes introspection in terms of one part of the brain “accessing” another (like one part of a computer accessing another) and then, via the speech center, “printing out” the results.

In contemporary introspective experiments subjects produced reports that were more like stereotyped and predictable “folk” interpretations than detailed eyewitness accounts of inner events.

Besides, it seems that in cultures more or less uninfluenced by European culture people do not claim to have powers of introspection.

More important, there does not seem to be any part of the brain that functions as a monitor of those neurophysiological states that maintain and control conscious states.

Therefor, talking about mental states suggest that there is something, like you can see brain states on a scanner. But when you look closer at it,

then you really may wonder, whether this inner eye really exists, or that we drastically should revise the way in which we describe the working of our mind.

The Discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: Thank you... ㋡
[13:23] Qwark Allen: nice
[13:23] herman Bergson: The floor is yours
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: ah ㋡
[13:23] Qwark Allen: what kind of experiments they did to test introspection?
[13:23] herman Bergson: General conclusion....introspection is a kind of illusion
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:24] herman Bergson: That started with the laboratories like those of Wundt....
[13:24] herman Bergson: 1920....
[13:24] herman Bergson: I really have no detailed knowledge of whta they did Qwark....but when you look up Wundt you'll certainly find th eanswer
[13:25] Qwark Allen: ok
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: oki
[13:25] Qwark Allen: kind of strange
[13:25] herman Bergson: Hello Rodney!!!
[13:25] Mick Nerido: Introspection or the inner eye seems very real to me personally
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: hi Rodney
[13:25] Rodney Handrick: Hi Herman
[13:25] Qwark Allen: when we think to ourselfves, it`s introspection?
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes Mick it is to all of us....
[13:25] Rodney Handrick: Hi Bejitas
[13:25] Qwark Allen: about something
[13:25] Farv Hallison: a similar experiment is going on in physics, that spacetime is a illusion
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes like the read head in a hard drive scans the disk for information sort of
[13:26] herman Bergson: But as I also remarked ...there seem to be cultures that do not know such an inner eye way of thinking about one self
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: the same way we scan our memory when we try to remember some stuff
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: and thats analogous to introspection i guess
[13:27] herman Bergson: One problem is that this inner eye doesnt see much in fact.... a lot of mental states are there unseen...
[13:27] herman Bergson: My basic question is ....what are mental states, what do we call identical with brian states
[13:28] Qwark Allen: a smile can be a sign of insecurity, or something esle
[13:28] Mick Nerido: So the inner eye may be a learned state like lanquage
[13:28] herman Bergson: And digging into introspection I am really at a loss...
[13:28] herman Bergson: for instance.....
[13:29] herman Bergson: we talk mainly of an inner eye....but what about the mentla state related to a we "see' that too?
[13:29] Farv Hallison: how much of the impression from the inner eye is visual?
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes mick.....might be so.....a kind of language about ourselves which we have learned to use
[13:30] herman Bergson: Yes Farv..and more....IS IT VISUAL at all?
[13:30] herman Bergson: there has been a big debate for instance about the imageless thought..
[13:30] herman Bergson: are thoughts in images? Or not?
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: but when you think of a smell that you haeve felt before you will imagine that you feel it for real
[13:31] herman Bergson: What is the content of a thought?
[13:31] herman Bergson: Can we see that withthis inner eye?
[13:31] herman Bergson: After this lecture , to be honest, I have no idea what goes on in my my mind...
[13:32] herman Bergson: ok...I can use that metafore of 'seeing'
[13:32] Qwark Allen: heehhe
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:32] herman Bergson: can use
[13:32] Farv Hallison: Is is possible that everything in the mind is symbols and relations between symbols?
[13:33] Mick Nerido: The mind seems to be doing many things at once the inner eye seems to be a part that is a self obsver
[13:33] herman Bergson: Well....when you take a pencil, Fav and a piece of paper
[13:33] herman Bergson: you can reproduce what is on your mind by writing down these symbols yes...
[13:34] herman Bergson: but where in your mind...or brain ...are these symbols if there are only neurons?
[13:34] herman Bergson: These neurons make you write the symbols, yes....
[13:35] Farv Hallison: the symbols are coded as on/OFF firing of neurons.
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: id say that they are in the chemical pattern or configuration of the neurons
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: much like 1 and 0 on a hard disk is represented by either north pr south magnetic polarisation in the surface on the disks
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: or
[13:35] herman Bergson: Interesting Farv.....for we'll get to thecomputational theory of the mind the brian a computer so to speak!
[13:36] herman Bergson: yes Bejiita....and we'll get to that soon
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: must be something similar
[13:36] Mick Nerido: Or like a kaleidoscope that we interpret with meaning
[13:37] herman Bergson: What it is al about is the question...does introspection generate knowledge...?
[13:37] Farv Hallison: DNA stores coded symbols
[13:37] herman Bergson: and if so...knowledge of what?
[13:38] herman Bergson: What we have seen is at least that introspection only offers minimal knowledge of a small area...
[13:38] Farv Hallison: The ON/OFF pattern of neurons has to be converted into language statements.
[13:38] herman Bergson: most of the time it is about attitudes, beleefs , feelings and the like
[13:39] herman Bergson: Ye s it is what you say Farv..maybe we should talk about our mind in terms of on / off somethingies ㋡
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: like binary code
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: sort of
[13:39] herman Bergson: in stead of "seeing ' inner pictures etc.
[13:40] herman Bergson: That is what Patricia Churchland suggests....
[13:40] herman Bergson: that our 'folk" psychology language is inadequate for describing the mind
[13:41] herman Bergson: the mind is much more than we introspecively can access....
[13:41] herman Bergson: so only some mental states can be known by us
[13:41] Qwark Allen: i think that is the main thing herman
[13:41] Mick Nerido: Perhaps music art etc are the result of this inner eye
[13:41] Omei Qunhua-Whelan (omei.qunhua) is Online
[13:42] Qwark Allen: it`s more genetic
[13:42] Qwark Allen: eheheh
[13:42] herman Bergson: A problem with which I struggle is mental STATE...A state is a clearly limited something....
[13:42] Farv Hallison: The coding in the brain could be 3 dimensional pattern of ON/OFF neurons, convertible to a linear sequence only by some algorithm.
[13:42] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): so when our mind is like a computer..we can reset it if neccesary?
[13:43] Qwark Allen: ehheh and upload new software
[13:43] Farv Hallison: resetting would be dangerous.
[13:43] herman Bergson: That would be nice Beertje:)
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: hmmm don't seem like that , i haven't found my restart button
[13:43] Lizzy Pleides: not always
[13:43] herman Bergson: yes...resetting it to what brain?
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: or we maybe restart when we sleep
[13:43] Farv Hallison: short term memory needs to be constanly refreshed.
[13:43] Rodney Handrick: Resetting...I think they call that a coma
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes a restart like a computer is impossible i think
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: on the other hand we don't hang completley either
[13:44] Farv Hallison: short term memories are converted to long term memories during sleep.
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: but sometimes when i ex play bowling and sudedenly from going well i start after a while change something and dont find back easily
[13:45] Mick Nerido: computer is electric, brains are electro chemical
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: then id like to be able to reset myself
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: same when playing golf
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: i have the feel the sometimes loose it and cant find it again for that round
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: and i cant reset myself what i know dung the game
[13:45] Qwark Allen: we know already what kind of language brain use to transfer information
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: wish i could
[13:45] herman Bergson: yes Bejiita ...sometimes luck leaves you ㋡
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: hhe
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: cause im really good at it when its all correct
[13:46] herman Bergson: what language are you referring to Qwark?
[13:46] Mick Nerido: Why don't computer sleep?
[13:46] Qwark Allen: the one that the brain use
[13:46] Qwark Allen: like the brain "windows"
[13:46] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:46] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:47] Qwark Allen: they made first experiemnts years ago
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: when a computer is of its more like dead then sleeping
[13:47] Qwark Allen: remember when i talk about the test with the monkey,
[13:47] Qwark Allen: that the monkey had this wires in the brain
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: but you also can reawaken a computer bu simply applying power
[13:47] Qwark Allen: plugged to a pc
[13:48] herman Bergson: they did some similar kind of experiment
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: but with no power there is no activity at all = dead
[13:48] Qwark Allen: in the end the monkey realized, that didn`t need to move the hand in the mouse, to move the cursor at screen
[13:48] Qwark Allen: ´
[13:48] herman Bergson: bridging a removed neuron knot with a chip...
[13:48] Qwark Allen: was moving the cursor just by thinking about it
[13:48] herman Bergson: yes... brain control over a computer....I know about that
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: interesting
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: .)
[13:48] Qwark Allen: nowadays, there is a new technology for lost limbs, that use the same kind of interface
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:49] Qwark Allen: ppl have artificial limbs that work like almost the original
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: i think its connected in fact so that whn you send the same signals as if you wanted to move your real arm it responds in same way
[13:49] herman Bergson: home work I suggest you test your own system of introspection again and ask yourself what you actually do or see when you are introspecting... ㋡
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: so it feels in other words like you moved your real arm
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: event its not there
[13:50] herman Bergson: To be the moment I don't know ㋡
[13:50] Qwark Allen: most of the time , mental images
[13:50] Mick Nerido: Can artifical limbs have feeling?
[13:50] Qwark Allen: no, but can be moved, just by thinking
[13:50] herman Bergson: You even can say that no limb has feelings....
[13:50] herman Bergson: the feelings come from the brain....
[13:50] Qwark Allen: its a new tech
[13:51] Qwark Allen: hehhehe in a way you are right hermman
[13:51] herman Bergson: that gives a location to the feeling...
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:51] Qwark Allen: some say, that the bowel is our second brain
[13:51] Mick Nerido: lost limbs have memory feeling in brain
[13:51] Qwark Allen: some depressions can be related with constipation
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: ex when i move my hand it feels lke its only the hand i affect but these movement signals come from the brain
[13:51] Farv Hallison: The brain knows where the limb is because it has a map of the body.
[13:51] herman Bergson: yes well known phenomenon ...fantom limbs
[13:52] Qwark Allen: no, it`s because receive feedback from it
[13:52] Qwark Allen: you can see that, in tetanus
[13:52] herman Bergson: indeed Farv
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: so if those signals can be interpreted by artificial libs that in turn have feedback to the brain you would hardly feel any difference
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: i don't know
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: will be close to the real thing i'd say then
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: its interesting for sure
[13:52] Qwark Allen: tetanus is terrible, cause brain send stimulus to limbs, but have no feedback
[13:53] herman Bergson: Anyway....I hope I didnt crack your brains not like the last time....maybe I confused them now :-)
[13:53] Qwark Allen: so, it keeps sending stimilus
[13:53] Mick Nerido: More fun today!
[13:53] herman Bergson: So I thank you for your participation again....
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes that horrible disease
[13:53] Qwark Allen: you welcome
[13:53] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:53] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:53] herman Bergson: Class dismissed after Farv has finnished ㋡
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: interesting as always
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: ㋡

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