Monday, February 13, 2012

382: The Mystery of the Brain concluded

After 115 lectures on the brain it is time to come to a conclusion and the extensive study,which this project required has led me to a conclusion indeed.

It all began September 2010 !!!! Then I said this:
"For me this is going to be a special project. It is not just an academic presentation of a subject with many different points of view possible. It will be a personal stand. I will stand for a materialist theory of mind.

This means that the series of lectures I have scheduled will be a kind of argumentation to make my point. However, it is not my intention that at the end of the semester you all have to say: yes you are right.

The lectures and the research for them will be more of a test, a searching for the answer whether the materialist view is tenable or not, to clarify the arguments in favor and against this view."

My view on materialism is no longer the same as it was in 1976 due to my lectures. Everything we know about the brain, consciousness is causally reducible to brain processes;

and for that reason I deny that the ontological irreducibility of consciousness implies that consciousness is something ‘over and above’, something distinct from, its neurobiological base.

No, causally speaking, there is nothing there, except the neurobiology, which has a higher level feature of consciousness.

In a similar way there is nothing in the car engine except molecules, which have such higher level features as the solidity of the cylinder block, the shape of the piston, the firing of the spark plug, etc.

Consciousness’ does not name a distinct, separate phenomenon, something over and above its neurobiological base, rather it names a state that the neurobiological system can be in.

Just as the shape of the piston and the solidity of the cylinder block are not something over and above the molecular phenomena,

but are rather states of the system of molecules, so the consciousness of the brain is not something over and above the neuronal phenomena, but rather a state that the neuronal system is in.

This is how John Searle (1932 - …) states his view and it is a better view then my support of the Identity Theory in 1976 as my graduation thesis, in which mental states were semantically reduced to material states.

I still stand by the view that materialism is the correct metaphysics today and that there does not exist anything else but matter.

Matter has higher level features and one of those features is consciousness. The most important scientific problem of the present era is one that until recently most scientists did not regard as a suitable topic for scientific investigation at all.

It is simply this: How exactly do brain processes cause consciousness? Given our present models of brain functioning, it would be an answer to the question. "How do lower level neuronal firings at the synaptic connection cause all of our subjective experiences!

In other words, consciousness is a natural biological phenomenon that does not fit comfortably into either of the traditional categories of mental and physical. It is caused by lower-level microprocesses in the brain and it is a feature of the brain at the higher macro levels.

I reject the view, that consciousness is something more than the neurological features of the brain like the property dualist does.

The property dualist means that in addition to all the neurobiological features of the brain, there is an extra, distinct, nonphysical feature of the brain;

whereas I mean that consciousness is a state the brain can be in, in the way that liquidity and solidity are states that water can be in.

This is the final lecture of The Mystery of the Brain project. For me it is not an endpoint, but, on the contrary, a real new startingpoint. I hope for you too.

The next project will be something totally different. The title is "The Utopia of the Free Market", the worldwide financial crisis from a philosophical perspective.

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you....
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:21] Lizzy Pleides: brilliant!!
[13:21] Agnos (agnos): Thank you Herman
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: have been interesting
[13:22] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks..the floor is yours
[13:22] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[13:22] Loo Zeta: :)
[13:22] Blackrose (blackrose.baroque): thank you Herman:))
[13:22] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): free market oh boy
[13:22] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I have a thought on it
[13:22] herman Bergson: Go ahead Merlin
[13:22] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): To me ... I can more easily accept there is something non-material about life itself, ...and biology
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: QWARKIEEEE
[13:23] Qwark Allen: ㋡ ˜*•. ˜”*°•.˜”*°• Helloooooo! •°*”˜.•°*”˜ .•*˜ ㋡
[13:23] Qwark Allen: Hey!
[13:23] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ☆*¨¨*:•.•:*¨* hallo hello hi holla *¨¨*:•.•:*¨*☆
[13:23] Qwark Allen: ;-)
[13:23] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): late guy
[13:23] herman Bergson: Yes I know Merlin.....
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: just missed grand finale
[13:23] Jaelle Faerye: hi all, btw
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:23] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): taking lessons from you know who
[13:23] herman Bergson: this dualism is so deeply rooted in our culture...
[13:24] herman Bergson: It is everywhere...except in cognitive sciences and neurobiology...
[13:24] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Do you think that idea is very similar to conventional Dualism?
[13:24] Sybyle Perdide: hello Jaelle hi Qwark
[13:24] Lizzy Pleides: is there really a contradiction?
[13:24] herman Bergson: in what sense Lizzy?
[13:25] Lizzy Pleides: consciousness is a quality
[13:25] Lizzy Pleides: and not a matter, right?
[13:25] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): thats how I understand it too
[13:25] herman Bergson: liquidity is a feature of H2o molecules
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:25] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Im a bit uneasy about that
[13:26] herman Bergson: Just look at liquidity....
[13:26] Lizzy Pleides: why shoudln't exist a non material about life despite
[13:26] herman Bergson: molecules in a certain state, the lower micro system, generate a feature in a higher system...
[13:27] Loo Zeta: But at zero it is frozen, so changes consistency
[13:27] herman Bergson: under other conditions the water could be solid....
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: yes cause the circumstances change
[13:27] Jarapanda Snook: given that the higher apes share 98% of our genes, their physical state is not unlike outs - would we regard them as conscious?
[13:27] Loo Zeta: yes
[13:27] Mistyowl Warrhol: Or vapor
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: and molecules slow and bind to each other forming a solid
[13:27] herman Bergson: we have physics to explain this all to us...
[13:27] herman Bergson: the problem with consciousness from this perspective is,
[13:28] Loo Zeta: Apes have been shown to have conscious states
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: different liquids have different points depending on how tightly molecules bind
[13:28] herman Bergson: that it is a huge scientific challenge to find out
[13:28] Loo Zeta: They carry round dead young until they can separate
[13:28] herman Bergson: how our neurons can generate that feature we call consciousness....
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: oxygen and hydrogen by themselves have very low binding forces , take several 100 degrees below 0 c to get them liquid
[13:29] Sybyle Perdide: but even if you accept this physical model
[13:29] Sybyle Perdide: there are new mysteries within it
[13:29] Sybyle Perdide: so every snowflake has a different pattern
[13:29] herman Bergson: the basic idea is that it is a natural biological process that our brain generates consciousness....
[13:29] Sybyle Perdide: despite the same aggregate state
[13:29] Jarapanda Snook: but I would not attribute consciousness to a few billion water molecles - whatever you can say about their biding powers
[13:30] herman Bergson: I never observed any consciousness in snowflakes...
[13:30] Lizzy Pleides: lol
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[13:30] herman Bergson: I guess we better stick to biology here
[13:30] Sybyle Perdide: i never get liquid consciousness
[13:30] Loo Zeta: :D
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: cause no biochemical processes going on between water molecules
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: water is stable
[13:30] Jarapanda Snook: there is always a tendency to suspect something metaphysical, even though I am a scientist
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: nonreactive
[13:30] herman Bergson: depends on how much wine you drank Sybyle :-))
[13:30] Mistyowl Warrhol: can get liquid unconsciousness.. !
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:31] herman Bergson: Yes Jara....I know the feeling..
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: that would be of there is bacteria in there but i dont thingc bacteria can feel anything
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: only single cells
[13:31] Mistyowl Warrhol: But the metaphysical, is that which has not been explained yet..
[13:32] Jarapanda Snook: so that is a paradox, then Herman? We cannot prove against the metaphysical
[13:32] herman Bergson: what do you mean Jara?
[13:32] herman Bergson: We can prove that dualists are wrong...
[13:33] herman Bergson: or at least lack the arguments to prove their case
[13:34] Jarapanda Snook: well - I see it as a paradox that we cannot prove scientifically any material link between consciousness and matter, but we suspect it to be the case, whereas we easily think there might be something of a higher power
[13:35] herman Bergson: Ahh…good point Jara....
[13:35] herman Bergson: The fact is that we observe the brain and what it does.....
[13:35] herman Bergson: there is no paradox here
[13:35] herman Bergson: It is just the fact that we simple don't know how those braincells fix it
[13:36] Jarapanda Snook: fair enough
[13:36] herman Bergson: and that is not so upsetting….
[13:36] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Many people who believe in this higher power are illogical
[13:36] herman Bergson: neuroscience is hardly 30 years old at the level it is now
[13:36] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): very young
[13:36] herman Bergson: besides that....when you look behind me at the picture...
[13:37] Loo Zeta: Sometimes you have to accept the illogical
[13:37] herman Bergson: we are developing technology only this very days....
[13:37] herman Bergson: it is all so new...
[13:37] Jarapanda Snook: I don't believe in a higher power, don't get me wrong, but it is difficult to see how a bunch of neurons can make me self aware
[13:37] Mistyowl Warrhol: Just think what another 10 years can bring.
[13:38] herman Bergson: There is nothing illogical here, Loo, just the limitation of our knowledge of today in these matters
[13:38] herman Bergson: Yes Misty.....
[13:38] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): This bunch of neurons is quite a big bunch
[13:38] herman Bergson: the development of neurosciences is going so fast these days....
[13:39] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Look at the way digital data can express detail and subtlety
[13:39] Loo Zeta: I have melded science and faith for the last 30 odd years
[13:39] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): And even text made up of discreet letters
[13:39] Jarapanda Snook: interesting, Loo - what branch of science?
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes that stays an issue in our culture Loo
[13:39] Mistyowl Warrhol: What if they can get the brain to heal itself like an infants.. well, not heal, but take over parts that are missing.
[13:39] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): seems to convey an infinite complexity
[13:40] herman Bergson: That already happens Misty....
[13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): already doing that in a way misty
[13:40] Mistyowl Warrhol: in adults?
[13:40] herman Bergson: the brain is not a static grey mass but highly flexible and adaptive
[13:40] Jarapanda Snook: there are more possible combinations of synapses in the human brain than atoms in the universe
[13:40] herman Bergson: Yes in adults too
[13:41] herman Bergson: Oh that might be true Jara....
[13:41] Loo Zeta: I have a degree in health science, studied psychology and sociology applied to biological science
[13:41] Loo Zeta: I am also a commited Christian ... *now ducks*
[13:41] herman Bergson: The brain is the most complex organ in the known universe
[13:41] Mistyowl Warrhol: I have seen a infant with a quarter of his brain removed at 2 weeks, and the opposite had completely taken over those functions by the time I saw him at 18 mo.. Adults can do that?
[13:41] herman Bergson: dotn duck Loo
[13:41] Jarapanda Snook: don't duck - no-ones throwing bricks in here!
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: hehehe
[13:42] Loo Zeta: :)
[13:42] herman Bergson: The first one who dared I would ban immediately
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: throws a truckload of bricks
[13:42] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): lol
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: hahaha
[13:42] herman Bergson: Behave Bejiita :-)
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:42] Mistyowl Warrhol: Looking for my snowballs, finding one big enough to hide a brick.
[13:42] Sybyle Perdide: we can use the bricks for a church
[13:42] Jarapanda Snook: but I find it interesting... I am an atheist, and the more science i have encountered over the years the more committed an atheist I become
[13:43] herman Bergson: Well Jara....
[13:43] Jarapanda Snook: to me religion is bout filling gaps in knowledge, and the more we learn the lees gaps we have
[13:44] herman Bergson: They once did a survey among the members of the Royal Academy of Science in England about the relation religion - science...
[13:44] Sybyle Perdide: are you sure, Jara
[13:44] Jarapanda Snook: and i bet they were all religious lol
[13:44] herman Bergson: only 3% said to be religious
[13:44] Jarapanda Snook: oh right
[13:44] Sybyle Perdide: the more I learn, the more gaps I am able to recognize
[13:44] herman Bergson: combined with scientific work
[13:44] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I see it more as a frontier than as gaps
[13:45] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): a boundary between the known and the unknown
[13:45] herman Bergson: Welll there is a tendency of religion bashing these days...
[13:45] herman Bergson: Dawkins, Harris...guys like that
[13:45] herman Bergson: I dont know.....
[13:45] Jarapanda Snook: what do they say about it ?
[13:46] Loo Zeta: I am a midwife every day I observe the miracle of birth, I understand the biomedical feedback of respiration etc
[13:46] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Well some ppl do try to use religion to explain all the unknown stuff
[13:46] herman Bergson: I say about it that it is a bit arrogant....
[13:46] Loo Zeta: But sti it makes me cry at times, and I am an old cynic
[13:46] Jarapanda Snook: that's how i see it
[13:46] herman Bergson: as if we have all answers
[13:46] Jarapanda Snook: awww
[[13:46] herman Bergson: let me put it this way....
[13:46] herman Bergson: consciousness is a feature of the brain....
[13:46] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): yes herman, Im listening
[13:47] herman Bergson: those braincells do the trick....
[13:47] Mistyowl Warrhol: I think most ppl will agree that are forces in the universe that create and destroy, I think we all believe in that, just call it different names. We still acknowledge those forces of "nature".
[13:47] herman Bergson: We have hardly any idea how they do it
[13:47] herman Bergson: That is only the brain....
[13:48] herman Bergson: what about the rest of the we know exactly all features
[13:48] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): not yet and maybe never
[13:48] Jarapanda Snook: BUT herman - back to my original point - our brains are similar to a monkey's, but what makes us self aware to such an extent?
[13:48] herman Bergson: Like they look for higgs particles....
[13:48] Mistyowl Warrhol: Loo, anyone who has helped a new soul come into this life, will always have a diffrerent view of life in general.
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[13:49] herman Bergson: Yes Jara…I dont know...nobody knows....but it is a scientific and emperical question
[13:49] Loo Zeta: We have a far more developed frontal lobe, which contains personality and conciousness
[13:49] herman Bergson: Yes Loo, we know where we have put the stuff :-)
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: and another thing why are humans the only species that have a language, all the other beings just have a single sound they can emit
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: a bit hard for them to communicate
[13:49] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Surely though, apes and other mammals have just as much perception as we do
[13:50] Loo Zeta: I was a Chrisian before midwifery .... but it is more when those souls are lost and we do not have answers we seek beyond ourselves
[13:50] herman Bergson: but how that prefrontal lobe makes us aware...we don't know...only THAT it makes us aware of things
[13:50] Jarapanda Snook: but the material of their brains is the same material as ours...
[13:50] Mistyowl Warrhol: a lot of animals use "speak'.. such as whales.
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: dogs bark cats meow but that is like our language would contain one single letter
[13:50] Mistyowl Warrhol: Hey Mick.
[13:50] Sybyle Perdide: hi Mick
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: hi mick
[13:50] Mick Nerido: i got way laid
[13:50] Jarapanda Snook: Mick, you're late - very late ;-)
[13:50] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I think you missed it
[13:50] herman Bergson: The same as our, you say, Jara....
[13:51] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): another student of rodney
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: some animals can use different tone sequences at least
[13:51] herman Bergson: There is only one answer possible...
[13:51] herman Bergson: That can not be the case...for our brain produces consciousness in a very special way
[13:51] herman Bergson: So there must be something more...
[13:52] Jarapanda Snook: so there is something else..
[13:52] herman Bergson: something in which we differ from the chimpanse
[13:52] Jarapanda Snook: yep
[13:52] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Oh I don't think so
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): or any other animal
[13:52] herman Bergson: a scientific challenge, I would say
[13:52] Jarapanda Snook: is it just complexity?
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): possibly
[13:52] Jarapanda Snook: or wiring?
[13:52] herman Bergson: I would say YES, Jara
[13:53] herman Bergson: both I guess
[13:53] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): We have better logic etc, but I think our perceptions are the same
[13:53] Loo Zeta: Our perceptions are built on schematic experience ours are more complex
[13:54] herman Bergson: just a simple fact.....
[13:54] herman Bergson: we include time in our perceptions...
[13:54] herman Bergson: past present and future....animals dont, I guess
[13:54] Mick Nerido: Feb 11 2011 issue of ScienceNews "Eye on I" consciousness under the lense intersting read
[13:54] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I agree with that
[13:55] Loo Zeta: :)
[13:55] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): except that if you include time, is it still perception or does it become deduction etc
[13:55] Jarapanda Snook: how do you know that - I would think that a migrating whale must have some perception of time?
[13:56] Loo Zeta: Well Whales are far superior in many ways
[13:56] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): their perception like birds is by the llight of the sun
[13:56] herman Bergson: Not neccessarily Jara...the whael just reacts on the temperatures of the ocean waters etc....
[13:56] Loo Zeta: magnetic ability
[13:56] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): the sun
[13:56] herman Bergson: interacting with its environment triggers the impulses
[13:56] Loo Zeta: Sonar
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: aa yes some animals seem to be able to use the earth's magnetic field to oriendt like we use a compass
[13:57] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): noooo
[13:57] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:57] herman Bergson: pigeons...
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: they have a built in one or something
[13:57] Jarapanda Snook: if it were brain size alone that was the precursor if consciousness then Whales must be the first in line
[13:57] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Herman, what you say is applicable to lower animals but not higher ones like whales
[13:57] Blackrose (blackrose.baroque): our feelings of time are based on the sun too
[13:57] Loo Zeta: Men have bigger brains than women..... so no
[13:57] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): OMG!!!
[13:57] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): omg
[13:58] Loo Zeta: :)
[13:58] herman Bergson: ^_^
[13:58] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I suppose it is a sliding scale. shades of grey
[13:58] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): dont get into that!!!
[13:58] Jarapanda Snook: HA!
[13:58] Mistyowl Warrhol: yep, leaving that one alone, yep, yep, yep
[13:58] herman Bergson: I think it is time to shut down my brain.....^_^
[13:58] Mick Nerido: Neanderthals had bigger brains then modern humans...
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:58] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): been there done that several times in this class!!!!!!!!!
[13:59] Loo Zeta: :D
[13:59] herman Bergson: So….thank you all for your participation....this was a great adventure
[13:59] Jarapanda Snook: if men have bigger brains - which bits are bigger?
[13:59] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:59] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T * ::::::::::
[13:59] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:59] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Herman
[13:59] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********
[13:59] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:59] Jarapanda Snook: Thank You Herman
[13:59] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): not suere i am looking forward to free market!!!!!!!!
[13:59] Mick Nerido: sorry to miss class
[13:59] herman Bergson: And I rest my case.....
[13:59] Blackrose (blackrose.baroque): thank you Herman:)
[13:59] Mistyowl Warrhol: Good discuss, much to ponder on :-)
[14:00] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye ㋡
[14:00] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): for now
[14:00] Qwark Allen: ˜*•. ˜”*°•.˜”*°• Bye ! •°*”˜.•°*”˜ .•*˜ ㋡
[14:00] Blackrose (blackrose.baroque): bye gemma
[14:00] Qwark Allen: glad i made it
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: aa cu
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: this have been great
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: hope next theme will be as interesting
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: keep it up Herman
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[14:00] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye class&herman :o) ......see you tuesday!! greetings to you, in the universe :-)
[14:01] Blackrose (blackrose.baroque): ducks....
[14:01] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********
[14:01] Loo Zeta: :D thanks again
[14:01] herman Bergson: Cant promise you anything Bejiita, but I think it is going to be fun subject
[14:01] herman Bergson: We are all in the crisis
[14:01] Blackrose (blackrose.baroque): bye all..have a goodnight
[14:02] Sybyle Perdide: bye rose
[14:02] Loo Zeta: Goodnight to you too
[14:02] Blackrose (blackrose.baroque): bye Herman
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: cu
[14:02] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Bye Herman, and everyone
[14:02] Mistyowl Warrhol: TC everyone.. hugs till next time :)
[14:02] herman Bergson: Bye Merlin
[14:02] Jaelle Faerye: Bye all
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: cu soon
[14:03] Loo Zeta: Thanks all

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