Thursday, January 5, 2012

370: The Brain and a new point of view

Nice to see you all again. I hope you enjoyed your holidays as much as I did. For those who missed my message , of course , 2012 for you a lot of health and lots of love.

At least the coming months of this new year will be pretty difficult for us, because we have reached the final stage of our quest into the mystery of the brain.

The brain has been the topic of last year in RL. Lots of publications about the brain and how it works. During our quest we too have seen that many mental phenomena can be explained by the functioning and properties of the brain.

I started our quest with my thesis formulated in 1977, which was, to put it simple, that mental terms and physical terms refer to the same thing.

For example, to say "I am angry" and "There is adrenaline in my blood" may have a different meaning, but when asked to what state of affairs do both statements refer, we should give the answer: to a specific biochemical state of my body.

Taken one step further you could conclude that when those mental terms refer to the same states of affairs as the physical terms, then why not dispose of these often vague mental terms.

Like you could suggest to dispose of the word "water''. Delete it from our language, because talking about H2O is way more accurate.

This way of thinking is called reductionism, reducing one set of statements to a more fundamental set of statements, even suggesting to eliminate the first set.

Like we have reduced complete theories of witchcraft and alchemy to more basic chemical and medical theories. We even don't take witchcraft and alchemy serious anymore.

It all may sounds so obvious, that our language refers only to the material world and that with the growth of our scientific knowledge we can unmask pseudo-language that claims to refer to more than just material states of affairs.

But now comes the difficult part. John Searle (1932 - …)says: "Consciousness does not seem to be "physical" in the way that other features of the brain, such as neuron firings, are physical.

Nor does it seem to be reducible to physical processes by the usual sorts of scientific analyses that have worked for such physical properties as heat and solidity."

Thus , a reductionist view won't do the job according to Searle. Yet his thesis is that "consciousness is a natural, biological phenomenon.It is as much a part of our biological life as digestion, growth, or photosynthesis."

And he adds" We are blinded to the natural, biological character of consciousness and other mental phenomena by our philosophical tradition, which makes "mental" and "physical" into two mutually exclusive categories.

The way out is to reject both dualism and materialism, and accept that consciousness is both a qualitative, subjective "mental" phenomenon, and at the same time a natural part of the "physical" world."

So that will be my new position: putting to the test that consciousness is a qualitative mental phenomenon and at the same time a natural part of the "physical" world. And in this context, according to Searle , we can reject materialism.

Again Searle: " 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. To accept this "biological naturalism," as I like to call it, we first have to abandon the traditional categories."

So, according to Searle, I have to abandon my materialist reductionist approach of the mind - body problem and accept that his view is more plausible.

Then this will be our new approach tot the Mystery of the Brain.

The Discussion

[2012/01/03 13:19] herman Bergson: Thank you... ^_^
[2012/01/03 13:20] Farv Hallison: It sounds like wave-particle duality in quantum mechanics.
[2012/01/03 13:20] herman Bergson: The floor is yours ..:-))
[2012/01/03 13:21] Farv Hallison: two complementary decriptions...sometimes wave, other times particle.
[2012/01/03 13:21] herman Bergson: Well dont know what that is, but at some stage Searle points at quantum mechanics indeed in relation to the subject of free wil
[2012/01/03 13:21] herman Bergson: Ahh yes...
[2012/01/03 13:22] herman Bergson: As you may have understood...I am going to make John Searle a kind of central focus
[2012/01/03 13:23] herman Bergson: He is a brilliant philosopher of mind excelling in clarity and good arguments
[2012/01/03 13:23] Mick Nerido: could it be simply that as a brain grows more evolved consciousness is a inevitable step in its functioning?
[2012/01/03 13:25] herman Bergson: There you already imply the possibility of growth of consciousness Mick....that already is an issue...
[2012/01/03 13:25] herman Bergson: is a child less conscious than we are?
[2012/01/03 13:25] Farv Hallison: what does 'inevitable' mean in this context?
[2012/01/03 13:25] herman Bergson: If so do you measure that
[2012/01/03 13:25] herman Bergson: typo for inevitable.... cant escape it
[2012/01/03 13:26] Mick Nerido: when I have cafeine I am more conscious :))
[2012/01/03 13:26] Mistyowl Warrhol: consciousness is awareness.. a child has limited awareness of all around it. So is a child less conscious or just less experienced in understanding what it sees or hears?
[2012/01/03 13:27] Lizzy Pleides: can we say a part is heredity and another part is experience?
[2012/01/03 13:27] herman Bergson: that is easily said Mick, but we even haven't a clear definition of consciousness....
[2012/01/03 13:27] herman Bergson: You may feel more alert yes....
[2012/01/03 13:28] herman Bergson: but you were conscious of your mental state before and after the coffee
[2012/01/03 13:29] Mistyowl Warrhol: lol I am only conscious after at least 2 cups of coffee !!!!
[2012/01/03 13:29] Farv Hallison: It has survival value. we become aware of when someone is going to be mean to us and cut them off before they can do it.
[2012/01/03 13:29] herman Bergson: what did change only that what you were conscious of
[2012/01/03 13:29] herman Bergson: yes Farv , what happens is that some senses become more accurate and focused
[2012/01/03 13:30] Farv Hallison: we could change our reactions by becoming aware
[2012/01/03 13:30] Mistyowl Warrhol: How does one define "consciousness"
[2012/01/03 13:30] Mick Nerido: Consciousness is linked to awareness of past present and future...
[2012/01/03 13:31] herman Bergson: of course....but what we are talking about is th econtent of our conscious experience and its effects on the organism
[2012/01/03 13:31] herman Bergson: not about consciousness itself and what it is
[2012/01/03 13:31] herman Bergson: and believe this moment I have no clue what it is...
[2012/01/03 13:31] herman Bergson: I know where it resided in the brain
[2012/01/03 13:32] herman Bergson: that is....when certain areas of the brain show no activitiy at all anymore then the person is not conscious
[2012/01/03 13:33] herman Bergson: But so far that is all we know....
[2012/01/03 13:33] Mistyowl Warrhol: If areas of the brain are no longer conscious are they then dead?
[2012/01/03 13:33] herman Bergson: But what the brain then generates what we call consciousness and how it relates to the brain....we'll have to find out
[2012/01/03 13:34] herman Bergson: You better write that dow Bergie!
[2012/01/03 13:34] Mick Nerido: she is writing everything down lol
[2012/01/03 13:34] bergfrau Apfelbaum: i wrote everything :-) herr professor
[2012/01/03 13:34] herman Bergson: Good.....
[2012/01/03 13:34] Mistyowl Warrhol: Waiting to see if she needs to sharpen her pencil soon.
[2012/01/03 13:35] herman Bergson: Well...if there are no more questions, then..may invite you to follow me in my quest in 2012
[2012/01/03 13:35] Farv Hallison wonders if bergfrau wrote down how Mistyowl's hair smells.
[2012/01/03 13:36] CONNIE Eichel takes the invitation
[2012/01/03 13:36] neret Emor: thanks so much herman
[2012/01/03 13:36] bergfrau Apfelbaum: i must think too with writing - mulititaskgenie
[2012/01/03 13:36] Mistyowl Warrhol: Looking forward to more conscious raising awareness of the universe!!
[2012/01/03 13:36] CONNIE Eichel: hehe
[2012/01/03 13:36] herman Bergson: I really dont know where we will end....
[2012/01/03 13:36] Mistyowl Warrhol: I just washed it !!!!
[2012/01/03 13:36] Mick Nerido: Thanks professor!
[2012/01/03 13:36] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty herman and ty class :-) i must go outside with m dogs
[2012/01/03 13:37] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation....
[2012/01/03 13:37] bergfrau Apfelbaum: see you soon:-) philosophers
[2012/01/03 13:37] CONNIE Eichel: was nice, as always :)
[2012/01/03 13:37] Lizzy Pleides: thank you Herman!
[2012/01/03 13:37] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[2012/01/03 13:37] Mistyowl Warrhol: A lot to think about :-)
[2012/01/03 13:37] Farv Hallison: Thank you Professor Bergson.
[2012/01/03 13:37] bergfrau Apfelbaum: herman
[2012/01/03 13:37] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********

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