A discussion about the brain.

  • Thread starter Lifegazer
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  • #1
[SOLVED] A discussion about the brain.

If there is no such thing as 'purpose' in the whole universe, then how can we say that the universe has bestowed us with our own sense of purpose?
We have purpose in life. Even if that purpose is just to stay alive and enjoy life. So where does this purposeness come from? A purposeless universe? I think not. If the effects of this universe are all determined to move in a specific fashion - in accordance with physical-law - then how can they create a mind which understands 'purpose' (will)?
We understand what 'purpose' and 'will' are, because we have them. But nothing we are observing has such 'purpose' (except other organisms).
All the world (of matter) is a slave to forces of law. Yet here we are with our free-will and purpose, and with the ability to manipulate those laws (and matter) for our own purposes and needs. And to imagine worlds which don't exist. And to understand the universe before us with reason. And to have emotions in response to that universe.
How can you even believe that matter created our minds? I'm amazed.
What possible explanation can make sense of believing that purposeless-matter created a purposeful-brain? Or an 'emotional' and 'reasoning' brain? Or an 'imaginative' brain? Do any of you have a reasonable explanation for this dramatic creation (the brain), which can make-sense of a "lump of matter" (the brain), having all of the aforementioned attributes - least of all awareness of sensation?
I'd like to hear why most of you buy this theory. What are your reasons for doing so? Do you have any, or do you just believe this to be fact? I'd like to put the ball in your court for a change.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
plus
171
1
Evolution has bestowed that we should have a purpose to stay alive and have children for obvious reasons.

Similarly, a self replicating molecule has to keep replicating, otherwise the species would not exist.

Once you have consciousness and evolution, then you have such a purpose as defined in LG post.
 
  • #3
Iacchus32
2,312
1
The Universe is endowed with the ability to question itself. Hmm ... How unique.

But why would that be necessary? Wouldn't that imply that the Universe is "conscious" as whole?
 
  • #4
Originally posted by plus
Evolution has bestowed that we should have a purpose to stay alive and have children for obvious reasons.
That's not a reason. It's a statement. How do physical-processes (slave processes) ~evolve~ into a "lump of matter" with the aforementioned attributes, which are all free from slavery?
I'm interested in hearing a rational explanation to show how "the slave" became free and 'different'.
Most materialists like to hide behind complexity when it comes to this crunch question. They hide behind the complexity of the brain, and hope the question will dissolve-away. But not this time. For no matter how complex the brain is, at the end of the day, it's just a "lump of matter" that can only act in accordance with physical-law.
All of it. No matter how complex.
So; how can slave-processes yield the aforemetioned attributes of the Mind? It's just impossible that slave-processes can give the impression of purpose and will, least of all the awareness of a reality beyond matter's enslaved-existence (imagination).
That's why it's impossible for us to create a computer "in our image". The computer will always be a slave, no matter how complex the electronics become.
Similarly, a self replicating molecule has to keep replicating, otherwise the species would not exist.
Such a molecule replicates via physical-processes alone. Its replication is not its own choice. I know that human-replication is a physical-process. But the laws of physics shall not dictate whether I have a child - for if I choose not to, I shall not have a child.
Once you have consciousness and evolution, then you have such a purpose as defined in LG post.
If I blindly-believe your first statement, then you don't have to answer my questions. But I'm not going to do that. Why should I? Where's your reason?
 
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  • #5
quantumcarl
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definition

Lifegazer, you may want to define the word and the concept of "purpose" before you go much further.

It could get fairly semantic in here.

Purpose, from my perspective, is relative. I don't think it stands up as a concept under the laws associated with string or quantum theory.
 
  • #6


Originally posted by quantumcarl
Lifegazer, you may want to define the word and the concept of "purpose" before you go much further.

It could get fairly semantic in here.

Purpose, from my perspective, is relative. I don't think it stands up as a concept under the laws associated with string or quantum theory.
Matter is a slave to physical-law. That's my point. So any 'thing' which acts, does so without choice.
But when it comes to life - humanity especially - 'choice' becomes an option, since our actions are not determined by physical-law, but by desire and will (self-purpose).
You can argue that our manifest-choices are restricted by physical-laws; but you cannot argue that our choices are determined by physical-law.
 
  • #7
FZ+
1,588
3
Matter is a slave to physical-law. That's my point. So any 'thing' which acts, does so without choice.
Prove it.
But when it comes to life - humanity especially - 'choice' becomes an option, since our actions are not determined by physical-law, but by desire and will (self-purpose).
Prove it.
You can argue that our manifest-choices are restricted by physical-laws; but you cannot argue that our choices are determined by physical-law.
If I assume numero uno, I think I can argue that quite easily. And that arguement would be non-disprovable.

For no matter how complex the brain is, at the end of the day, it's just a "lump of matter" that can only act in accordance with physical-law.

What you are doing here is an incorrect argument. You are assuming a deterministic universe, and then using the concept of free will. But the principle of an absolutely deterministic universe implies that free will does not exist, and so you cannot combine the two in this way. Rather, you have set up a straw man argument, where you set up the scenario to force them to be mutually contradictory. And there is no relevance between determinism and materialism - some believe free will exists, and so matter has some degree of freedom and randomness, and others believe that free will does not exist, and everything is fundamentally pre-determined from the definition of universal laws. This is also reflected in spiritualism - eg. fate. Your generalisation is completely off.
 
  • #8
Originally posted by FZ+
Lg:- "Matter is a slave to physical-law. That's my point. So any 'thing' which acts, does so without choice."

- Prove it.
Well if I concede, then the conclusion is that matter chooses its own future. You obviously cannot support such a stance.
Lg: "But when it comes to life - humanity especially - 'choice' becomes an option, since our actions are not determined by physical-law, but by desire and will (self-purpose).

- Prove it.
What physical-law has dictated that I should declare 'God' as real?
What physical-law has dictated that I should respond to your post in this manner?
No physical-processes can express 'choice'. Therefore, the diversity of my opinion, and the manner in which I have chosen to express my opinion - let-alone the fact that I have decided to respond - are exhibits of 'choice'.
I am free to think as I feel. I am even free to challenge my feelings. And so are you. No physical-process of a singular mechanism could ever achieve such diversity of 'product' if that mechanism was restricted by design & structure. That's why my Fiat-Brava cannot fly. It just drives across suitable terrain. Just like everybody elses Fiat-Brava. [this is in reference to my post in the 'beautiful' topic, where I metion that all cars of the same-make produce predictable results, if working.]
What you are doing here is an incorrect argument. You are assuming a deterministic universe
If you like, I will assume a universe with free-will. But that assumption takes me to the same conclusion: that the universe is a sentient being.
 
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  • #9
Matter is a slave to physical-law. That's my point. So any 'thing' which acts, does so without choice.

How about probability? Isn't that based on choice?
 
  • #10
This thread is not philosophy. It's pseudo-science yet again.
 
  • #11
Deslaar
42
0
Originally posted by Lifegazer
stuff

I think that Antonio Damasio gives a very plausible account of what you deny. I could reply with my synopsis of his explanation but it's much easier to tell you to read "The Feeling of What Happens". It should only take you a couple of days and all your doubts should evaporate. :smile:
 
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  • #12
Originally posted by N_Quire
This thread is not philosophy. It's pseudo-science yet again.
Actually, this thread gives people such as yourself the opportunity to explain to crackpots such as myself why 'the brain' is a product of matter + universal-forces.
... Still waiting.
 
  • #13
Originally posted by MajinVegeta
How about probability? Isn't that based on choice?
Roll a die. The odds that you will roll a '6' are 1-in-6 throws. But the die doesn't 'choose' what number shall come up. When you roll the die, physical-forces and considerations such as 'friction', etc., are responsible for how the die will fall.
 
  • #14


Originally posted by Deslaar
I think that Antonio Damasio gives a very plausible account of what you deny. I could reply with my synopsis of his explanation but it's much easier to tell you to read "The Feeling of What Happens". It should only take you a couple of days and all your doubts should evaporate. :smile:
I'll try to remember the recommendation. But in the meantime - for discussion's sake - I would like to hear your synopsis.
 
  • #15
heusdens
1,736
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Originally posted by Lifegazer
If there is no such thing as 'purpose' in the whole universe, then how can we say that the universe has bestowed us with our own sense of purpose?
We have purpose in life. Even if that purpose is just to stay alive and enjoy life. So where does this purposeness come from? A purposeless universe? I think not. If the effects of this universe are all determined to move in a specific fashion - in accordance with physical-law - then how can they create a mind which understands 'purpose' (will)?
We understand what 'purpose' and 'will' are, because we have them. But nothing we are observing has such 'purpose' (except other organisms).
All the world (of matter) is a slave to forces of law. Yet here we are with our free-will and purpose, and with the ability to manipulate those laws (and matter) for our own purposes and needs. And to imagine worlds which don't exist. And to understand the universe before us with reason. And to have emotions in response to that universe.
How can you even believe that matter created our minds? I'm amazed.
What possible explanation can make sense of believing that purposeless-matter created a purposeful-brain? Or an 'emotional' and 'reasoning' brain? Or an 'imaginative' brain? Do any of you have a reasonable explanation for this dramatic creation (the brain), which can make-sense of a "lump of matter" (the brain), having all of the aforementioned attributes - least of all awareness of sensation?
I'd like to hear why most of you buy this theory. What are your reasons for doing so? Do you have any, or do you just believe this to be fact? I'd like to put the ball in your court for a change.

Some people don't belief religion, and put their trust in scientific theories instead.
 
  • #16
heusdens
1,736
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Originally posted by Lifegazer
Roll a die. The odds that you will roll a '6' are 1-in-6 throws. But the die doesn't 'choose' what number shall come up. When you roll the die, physical-forces and considerations such as 'friction', etc., are responsible for how the die will fall.

If the die was a living thing and only number 6 can reproduce, then you would only see a die with number 6 coming up.
How strange!
 
  • #17
heusdens
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Originally posted by Lifegazer
That's not a reason. It's a statement.

Whatever you are mentioning as 'reason' are statements too. Only difference is, your statements are false.
 
  • #18
Another God
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
980
4
Originally posted by Lifegazer
What physical-law has dictated that I should declare 'God' as real?
What physical-law has dictated that I should respond to your post in this manner?
All of them

Therefore, the diversity of my opinion, and the manner in which I have chosen to express my opinion - let-alone the fact that I have decided to respond - are exhibits of 'choice'.
I am free to think as I feel. I am even free to challenge my feelings. And so are you. No physical-process of a singular mechanism could ever achieve such diversity of 'product' if that mechanism was restricted by design & structure.
Well, my belief tends towards that of a deterministic universe, without free will. I am not certain in any way, but thats where my belief tends. AS such, your choices, are illusions. The laws (PLURAL) of the universe, combined with whatever given state preceded whicheve moment you wish to analyse dictate exactly what will happen next.

Involved in that, is the process occuring in your brain right now, which makes it so that you are imperfectly recalling a variety of previous experiences from you life, and reconstructing them in a novel way, producing this argument. You are recalling 'memories' of previous conversations, previous concepts, previous ideas, previous sights, smells, sounds etc, and recombining those experiences into a whole new 'idea', and you are now attempting to communicate that idea.

You are not 'choosing' to do this any more than the dice chose to roll a 3. You are simply a consequence of the genetic programming that dictates the functions of your brain, combined with the experiences had thus far.

Now, don't go and ask something quite so stupid as 'What LAW allows you to make choices.' Because you aren't that stupid. You are much more intelligent than someone who would think for a fraction of a second that there is a law dedicated to such a redicules concept. Your 'choices' are a consequence of EVERYTHING coming together at that particular moment.

So no, I am not going to tell you how each choice is made. Because there are essentially an infinte number of things for me to describe.
 
  • #19
Iacchus32
2,312
1
Free Will vs Evil

Fromt the thread, https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=493&perpage=15&highlight=evil&pagenumber=2" ...

Originally posted by Iacchus32
Evil is the misappropriation of God's power which, can only be brought about by one thing, "ignorance." And yet since God is all knowing, then evil cannot be not perceived as such. On the other hand when God created man, who in and of himself is nothing but ignorant, then that generates a void, which necessitates the need for an antithesis, "the Devil."

What we deem as evil, God deems necessary for free will. So in this respect evil does not exist. And yet evil is something that we all experience in our lives, and to us it's very real. And to us the Devil is very real as well.

And I attest, that one only need look in the mirror to discover who the Devil really is ... And just as with the fall from the Garden of Eden, where man has separated himself from God, then God and the Devil have become two separate entities.

Whereas when considering the possibility of an after life, then the Devil is man gone to Hell, plain and simple.
Originally posted by Iacchus32
Originally posted by megashawn
And you have met him then I take it? Bet you left your polaroid at home didn't ya?

And don't give me that look in the mirror bs. Going by what the bible tells us, man was created in gods image. When we look in the mirror, we see an image of ourselves. What you said also implies that God is the devil.
Do you believe that evil exists? Do you believe its inherent with our nature? If this is true then why can't you extend it to say man is the Devil? It sounds plausible to me. While I admit that I can look within myself (in the mirror if you will) and acknowledge the inherent evil that's there? Are you capable of doing this?

And neither did I imply God was the Devil, on the contrary! (as per what I just said). While I suspect you didn't take the time to read my first post, which reads as follows:


Originally posted by Iacchus32
Evil is the misappropriation of God's power which, can only be brought about by one thing, "ignorance." And yet since God is all knowing, then evil cannot be perceived as such. On the other hand when God created man, who in and of himself is nothing but ignorant, then that generates a void, which necessitates the need for an antithesis, "the Devil."
Well perhaps I could modify this a little bit, to say the Devil is "generated" through man's perception of his falling away from God.
Originally posted by Iacchus32
Originally posted by Andy
So lets assume that; God created man in his own image, Man =The Devil how ironic that would be!
This I believe is in reference to man's appearance "before the fall." And, while it may not be so readily apparent in the "physical sense," if a man chooses the life of evil, his soul or spirit will be endowed with these qualities when he passes on.

It's all predicated upon choice though, and the spirit reflects that choice.

I might reiterate that God allows for evil (our perception of it) in order to allow us the freedom of choice which, is why He also created Hell, because He respects that choice. It's the only way it works. So basically, and tell me this isn't similar to the way you already perceive it, we have the freedom to mess up our lives, as well as the freedom to learn from our mistakes. Of course it would nice if we could just be held accountable for our own mistakes, but unfornately we have to pay for other people's mistakes as well. Oh well live and learn! ...

"... for the Father maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:45)
 
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  • #20
Mentat
3,890
3
Lifegazer,

Notable/meritable effort on this thread. My response is that you are not taking complexity into account. The universe is full of chaotic/near-random/follow-the-path-of-least-resistance reactions. That is how it works, according to current scientific understanding. However, when you get a "lump" of that matter together, and manipulate the energy contained therein, you can produce "programs". A PC is programmed, and so is a human. Humans have a much more complex programming, and are thus more consious and infinitely more emotional, then a PC, however the principle is the same.
 
  • #21
heusdens
1,736
0
Originally posted by Lifegazer
Most materialists like to hide behind complexity when it comes to this crunch question. They hide behind the complexity of the brain, and hope the question will dissolve-away. But not this time. For no matter how complex the brain is, at the end of the day, it's just a "lump of matter" that can only act in accordance with physical-law.
All of it. No matter how complex.
So; how can slave-processes yield the aforemetioned attributes of the Mind? It's just impossible that slave-processes can give the impression of purpose and will, least of all the awareness of a reality beyond matter's enslaved-existence (imagination).
That's why it's impossible for us to create a computer "in our image". The computer will always be a slave, no matter how complex the electronics become.

Such a molecule replicates via physical-processes alone. Its replication is not its own choice. I know that human-replication is a physical-process. But the laws of physics shall not dictate whether I have a child - for if I choose not to, I shall not have a child.

If I blindly-believe your first statement, then you don't have to answer my questions. But I'm not going to do that. Why should I? Where's your reason?

Your reasoning contains two major mistakes.
1. Even the smallest "lump" of matter is not completely deterministic. Look at the uncertainty principle and quantum mechanics. There is some flexibility even on the lowest possible level of existence. Your "belief" in the deterministic way in which the material world functions, therefore has no ground in physical law itself. So you attack materialism on the basis of arguments, which are not materialist assumptions, but purely your own "belief".

2. You argue that the complex functions a human mind/brain can perform, can not be brought back to the way matter behaves. You therefore "believe" that instead of the material world "God almighty" gave you your free will and so. Humans can make choises. At least we think we can, and in one or more ways we have choice. That is: we can make conscious decissions, exactly because we have knowledge about how the world functions. But where is the argument that therefore the brain and the human being is not material, and is not a product of the material world? The only argument brought in is from a misconception about how the material world in fact works. The material world is not deterministic. Materialism neither science claims that the material world is deterministic.
 
  • #22
The point of this thread is to actually give you guys a chance to put me straight, and show how slave-processes can yield the aforementioned attributes of the mind/brain.
I want to hear some reasons for me to change my mind. I'm being open to your explanations. So where are they?
 
  • #23
FZ+
1,588
3
Well if I concede, then the conclusion is that matter chooses its own future. You obviously cannot support such a stance.
Yes I can, if I should wish to do so.

Let's re-clarify.

There are available three relevant assumption-systems dealing with free will.

1. Absolute determinism. All of the universe is a system of cause and effect, and physical laws are absolute. Objects and existence exist in discrete form, and no opportunity for choice. This implies Free will cannot exist, and what we call choice is an illusion. Real causes and laws exist beneath the workings of the brain, and are only apparently random due to being hidden by the complexity of the system. If you trace back every impulse, you can find the source of thought.

This is reasonable and consistent.

2. Partial determinism. Everything has choice and capacity for random "will", but is restricted by absolute laws of the universe. But not determined. Reality and existence is only existant in terms of a probability matrix, and random fluctuation make up existence itself. Hence, all matter has choice - but the degree of fluctuation allowed is small - on the quantum scale. Free will is possible as small fluctuations cumulate in a complex and unstable system such as a brain, yielding greater randomness and hence choice.

This is reasonable and consistent.

3. Non-determinism. The universe is fundamentally random. No laws exist in reality, but rather are subjective notions placed by the mind to allow understanding. Physical laws have no power, but are merely effects of general, transient trends. Free will is not merely possible, but neccessary - will represents universal order, and hence every thing has conciousness.

This is reasonable and consistent.

Now, numero 3 gives the neccessity of universal consciousness to contain order. 2 gives the possibility of such consciousness, depending on the limits of the system. 1 implies that such consciousness cannot exist. Each of them represents an assumption to the nature of the universe. Other options are not logically viable.
 
  • #24
quantumcarl
770
0
Originally posted by Lifegazer
Actually, this thread gives people such as yourself the opportunity to explain to crackpots such as myself why 'the brain' is a product of matter + universal-forces.
... Still waiting.

Without "matter + universal-forces" there is no brain. There could never be a brain.

Universe not here... brain not here. Get over it.

Everything we know of and more, including brains, are under the "direction" of physical laws... and other laws which we are, for the most part, unaware of... therefore, I propose:

Just as free will is a product of the universal laws of matter etc...

then the product of free will is a part of those same laws of the universe. If the product is faulty (by definition of those laws of the universe), the product is recycled.

Which brings me to the conclusion... there is no free will... (but, one can freely free Willy(:
 
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  • #25
CJames
369
0
So; how can slave-processes yield the aforemetioned attributes of the Mind? It's just impossible that slave-processes can give the impression of purpose and will, least of all the awareness of a reality beyond matter's enslaved-existence (imagination).
That's why it's impossible for us to create a computer "in our image". The computer will always be a slave, no matter how complex the electronics become.
Actually, computer programs and artificial nueral nets have already proven that an artificial system is capable of making decisions that we do not include in their programing. This is a sort of "byproduct" of complexity theory, called emmergence. The question of whether such concious systems have freewill or not hasn't been answered, but they have shown apparent choice isn't necessarily generated by the animal/human mind alone.

Models of the human brain have been constructed quantum mechanically, treating individual neurons as though they were quanta. It's only an estimation for sure, but it too has demonstrated how the complexity of learning/thought is similar to the process of a rock rolling down a hill. Searching out the most efficient path.
 
  • #26
quantumdude
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
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We had this discussion in PF v2.0 in LG's thread called, "The Origins of Reason". DT Strain had the best post in the whole thread, IMO. I salvaged it and would like to post it here.

From DT Strain:

Very interesting topic Lifegazer. I hope it is not your last. I would have to disagree of course, but also I would differ a little with Carl...

One cannot talk meaningfully about reason, or any other activity of behavior without looking at the nature and function of those organs responsible for behavior.

There are basically two sources for all organic behavior on the planet - instinct and reason (with some fuzziness in between). It is important to take a quick look at instinct, so that we can differentiate it from reason (which I believe Carl has failed to do somewhat)...

INSTINCT:
Let us look at a simple organism like ants, which are unlikely to have much if any reason and totally intinctively driven. With ants, you have a very complex set of behaviors. But these behaviors are built into their bodies (or "hard wired") in their DNA. You can tell this because any ant will respond with these behaviors with no "training" time. You can also tell because of the similarity of the behaviors with others of the same species.

Such behaviors arrise out of natural selection. In other words, organisms which didn't have certain behavioral tendencies died quicker and contributed less of their kin to the following generation. This means that instinctive behaviors change very slowly in response to environmental factors. Therefore, another tell-tale sign of an instinct is that it does not quickly change in unpredictable situations and it tends to be more blunt and crude. A more simplistic code of responses to stimuli.

REASON:
Reason is a second source of organic behavior. The areas of the nervous system responsible for reason will be generally more complex in nature than the instinctive regions. When we look at how information is coded in the brain, through neural connections, what we find is that babies are born with very few connections. But they also have the ability to form new connections at an incredibly rapid rate. The input-connection-forming system of the brain allows it to formulate new pathways in respons to its experiences, unlike the hard-wired connections in the instinctive regions which are determined by DNA.

So, as the baby experiences things, a "pattern-recognition" gets going, where stimuli are mentally connected to other stimuli in a cause and effect pattern. As these patterns get more and more complex, the ability of the child to understand and predict things about its environment improves. Eventually, it takes on language, which is simply a coding tool that helps the brain sort information. Language is not all together necessary for reasoning, but it helps make reasoning a lot more efficient. The basic fact here though is that no reasoning is possible without flexible neurons capable of forming and reforming connections - the basis of memory and thought.
Reason, then, acts not on the slow evolutionary timescale of DNA-defined connections, but on a much quicker scale because new connections can form on an organism by organism basis according to individual experience. This makes it a more advanced system for determining behavior.

Ants' nervous systems contain little or no "unspecialized" brain cells at their birth. Therefore, all they have are the DNA-defined connections of specialized brain cells, and no room to form new connections (i.e. "learn"). Humans have a great deal of grey matter (the unspecialized flexible neurons)but we also have a substantial region of hard-wired cells determined by our genes. This "lizard brain" is still around and gives us our basic instinctive responses to our environment and our basic urges, which we share with most animals on the planet. Therefore, we are in a constant state of tug-of-war between our instinctive area and our reasoning area. This tug-of-war is most apparent when we are on diets, when we are trying to resist urges to hit people, and so on. Part of our education as beings growing up, is for the unspecialized reasoning portion of our brains to become more intricate and influential, so that it can "dominate" the instinctive side in such cases. This is the basis of self discipline.

Therefore, any behavior which arrises out of the hardwired simplistic region is instinctive, while any behavior arrising out of the more complex, flexible, and unspecialized region is reasoning. There are many examples of combinations, where the instinctive side "backs up" the intellectual side. For example, if we feel empathetic for a person in trouble and seek to help them, our social instincts may have given us this reaction. But our intellectual reasoning side may also realize on an ethical-principles level that it is good to help those in need.

So, to answer some of Carl's points, the other apes appear to have a good deal of "unspecialized" brain matter, meaning they are capable of learning new things and applying those lessons to their behavior (i.e. reasoning). However, this is on a much lower level, as their number of neurons, and the ability of those neurons to form complex connections is lower.

As for lifegazer's comments...

Originally posted by lifegazer:
Significantly, we are born with reasoning minds. Otherwise, we could never make sense of anything...

We are born with brains capable of building into a reasoning thing. The reasoning would be the activity taking place within this wiring while the wiring would be the neural connections. In other words, a baby's brain is like land with no highways. The babies brain has the ability to build new highways. The Reasoning would be the "traffic" that travels on these highways, which increases as the number and size of the highways increase. Therefore, a baby is not born with the ability to reason per se, but IS born with the ability to continually increase in its reasoning ability.

'Reason' has got nothing to do with language. Indeed, reason is shown to have understood language (in a baby).

You can reason without language, but its a tool that greatly helps in efficient reasoning.

Conclusion: reason is not something which we learn. Reason is our birth-right, and enables us to learn about the order of things.

Our "birthright" as you put it is to be born with a large amount of unspecialized brain cells capable of developing into a reasoning organ quite quickly.

I posit that the Mind knows how to reason before learning about things.

It is the learning about things which simultaneously gives the input that helps the brain continually develope greater and greater reasoning ability. This is why it is important to give babies bright colorful toys and to play with them often. As they see these objects and experiment with them, their brain developes and they learn to reason more and more greatly.

And from this, I conclude that things are not responsible for our ability to reason.

I disagree. Things such as toys and people send impulses into the brain. These impulses attract materials that form new connections, the electrical activity along these connections transfers the data needed in reasoning. The toys, people, neurons, synaptic connections, electricity, and light, are all things.

From this, I conclude that the Mind transcends the 'things' which it ponders. I.e.; I conclude that the mind has a distinct existence of its own - separate from the things which it sees outside of itself; yet which truly exist within the self.

Since the premeses are mistaken, the conclusion is as well. Again, it is completely irrelevant to make conclusions about the mind without any reference whatsoever to the nature of the organ which generates it.
 
  • #27
heusdens
1,736
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Originally posted by Tom
We had this discussion in PF v2.0 in LG's thread called, "The Origins of Reason". DT Strain had the best post in the whole thread, IMO. I salvaged it and would like to post it here.

From DT Strain:

Very interesting topic Lifegazer. I hope it is not your last. I would have to disagree of course, but also I would differ a little with Carl...

One cannot talk meaningfully about reason, or any other activity of behavior without looking at the nature and function of those organs responsible for behavior.

There are basically two sources for all organic behavior on the planet - instinct and reason (with some fuzziness in between). It is important to take a quick look at instinct, so that we can differentiate it from reason (which I believe Carl has failed to do somewhat)...

INSTINCT:
Let us look at a simple organism like ants, which are unlikely to have much if any reason and totally intinctively driven. With ants, you have a very complex set of behaviors. But these behaviors are built into their bodies (or "hard wired") in their DNA. You can tell this because any ant will respond with these behaviors with no "training" time. You can also tell because of the similarity of the behaviors with others of the same species.

Such behaviors arrise out of natural selection. In other words, organisms which didn't have certain behavioral tendencies died quicker and contributed less of their kin to the following generation. This means that instinctive behaviors change very slowly in response to environmental factors. Therefore, another tell-tale sign of an instinct is that it does not quickly change in unpredictable situations and it tends to be more blunt and crude. A more simplistic code of responses to stimuli.

REASON:
Reason is a second source of organic behavior. The areas of the nervous system responsible for reason will be generally more complex in nature than the instinctive regions. When we look at how information is coded in the brain, through neural connections, what we find is that babies are born with very few connections. But they also have the ability to form new connections at an incredibly rapid rate. The input-connection-forming system of the brain allows it to formulate new pathways in respons to its experiences, unlike the hard-wired connections in the instinctive regions which are determined by DNA.

So, as the baby experiences things, a "pattern-recognition" gets going, where stimuli are mentally connected to other stimuli in a cause and effect pattern. As these patterns get more and more complex, the ability of the child to understand and predict things about its environment improves. Eventually, it takes on language, which is simply a coding tool that helps the brain sort information. Language is not all together necessary for reasoning, but it helps make reasoning a lot more efficient. The basic fact here though is that no reasoning is possible without flexible neurons capable of forming and reforming connections - the basis of memory and thought.
Reason, then, acts not on the slow evolutionary timescale of DNA-defined connections, but on a much quicker scale because new connections can form on an organism by organism basis according to individual experience. This makes it a more advanced system for determining behavior.

Ants' nervous systems contain little or no "unspecialized" brain cells at their birth. Therefore, all they have are the DNA-defined connections of specialized brain cells, and no room to form new connections (i.e. "learn"). Humans have a great deal of grey matter (the unspecialized flexible neurons)but we also have a substantial region of hard-wired cells determined by our genes. This "lizard brain" is still around and gives us our basic instinctive responses to our environment and our basic urges, which we share with most animals on the planet. Therefore, we are in a constant state of tug-of-war between our instinctive area and our reasoning area. This tug-of-war is most apparent when we are on diets, when we are trying to resist urges to hit people, and so on. Part of our education as beings growing up, is for the unspecialized reasoning portion of our brains to become more intricate and influential, so that it can "dominate" the instinctive side in such cases. This is the basis of self discipline.

Therefore, any behavior which arrises out of the hardwired simplistic region is instinctive, while any behavior arrising out of the more complex, flexible, and unspecialized region is reasoning. There are many examples of combinations, where the instinctive side "backs up" the intellectual side. For example, if we feel empathetic for a person in trouble and seek to help them, our social instincts may have given us this reaction. But our intellectual reasoning side may also realize on an ethical-principles level that it is good to help those in need.

So, to answer some of Carl's points, the other apes appear to have a good deal of "unspecialized" brain matter, meaning they are capable of learning new things and applying those lessons to their behavior (i.e. reasoning). However, this is on a much lower level, as their number of neurons, and the ability of those neurons to form complex connections is lower.

As for lifegazer's comments...



We are born with brains capable of building into a reasoning thing. The reasoning would be the activity taking place within this wiring while the wiring would be the neural connections. In other words, a baby's brain is like land with no highways. The babies brain has the ability to build new highways. The Reasoning would be the "traffic" that travels on these highways, which increases as the number and size of the highways increase. Therefore, a baby is not born with the ability to reason per se, but IS born with the ability to continually increase in its reasoning ability.



You can reason without language, but its a tool that greatly helps in efficient reasoning.



Our "birthright" as you put it is to be born with a large amount of unspecialized brain cells capable of developing into a reasoning organ quite quickly.



It is the learning about things which simultaneously gives the input that helps the brain continually develope greater and greater reasoning ability. This is why it is important to give babies bright colorful toys and to play with them often. As they see these objects and experiment with them, their brain developes and they learn to reason more and more greatly.



I disagree. Things such as toys and people send impulses into the brain. These impulses attract materials that form new connections, the electrical activity along these connections transfers the data needed in reasoning. The toys, people, neurons, synaptic connections, electricity, and light, are all things.



Since the premeses are mistaken, the conclusion is as well. Again, it is completely irrelevant to make conclusions about the mind without any reference whatsoever to the nature of the organ which generates it.


Let us call it a crude fact of life that, although the brain has the ability to reason, the minds of some people simply ignore to use that capacity ........
 
  • #28
quantumcarl
770
0
Originally posted by CJames
Actually, computer programs and artificial nueral nets have already proven that an artificial system is capable of making decisions that we do not include in their programing. This is a sort of "byproduct" of complexity theory, called emmergence. The question of whether such concious systems have freewill or not hasn't been answered, but they have shown apparent choice isn't necessarily generated by the animal/human mind alone.

Models of the human brain have been constructed quantum mechanically, treating individual neurons as though they were quanta. It's only an estimation for sure, but it too has demonstrated how the complexity of learning/thought is similar to the process of a rock rolling down a hill. Searching out the most efficient path.

CJames, are you refering to Genetic Algorythms?

Tom, thanks for the ballast from the past!
There is an interesting phenomenon involved with BEES.

Bees exhibit a large amount of intelligence. They communicate to one another the location of specific flowers and specific nutritional values of flowers as well as the exact coordinates of those sources of nutrition. This is all transmitted through the use of wing beats, dances and variations of the sound of their wings... bzzz...etc.

Research was done to determine the accuracy of this communication. Each bee was instructed by a "scout bee" concerning the location of the food source.

The food gatherers were acutely aware of the height of the plant, the colour and other details. We are talking about some very complex neural nets here. This is where the phraze "BEE LINE" originates. The efficiancy factor is very high in this instance.

And it does resemble the "path of least resistance" taken by a rock down a hill.

You could look up the bee story at Discovery.com, perhaps... with Allan Alda.
 
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  • #29
Another God
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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I'm just waiting for LG to post again: I want to hear some reasons for me to change my mind. I'm being open to your explanations. So where are they?

Can u see them now?
 
  • #30
I haven't got time to reply to everything in this post of Toms. I'm hoping I can make my point without doing so.
Originally posted by Tom
From DT Strain:

One cannot talk meaningfully about reason, or any other activity of behavior without looking at the nature and function of those organs responsible for behavior.
Please note how the beginning of DT Strain's invalidation of my philosophy starts-out with an assertion that "the organs" are responsible for my behaviour. So from the onset, DT Strain was set-out in defending his own beliefs. He had no intention of discussing my philosophy.
There are basically two sources for all organic behavior on the planet - instinct and reason (with some fuzziness in between).
In response to this, I will say that "instinct" is merely ~accepted knowledge~. I.e., instinct is 100%-believed knowledge which allows the Mind to work on ^auto-pilot^... so to speak. However, at the end of the day, all knowledge is reasoned by conciousness.
For example, if you instinctively run-away from spiders, then it's because you 100%-believe that spiders are the bogey-man, so to speak. However, if you ever face upto your irrational fear of all spiders, then it comes as no surprise that your 'instincts' suddenly start to become more mature.
In other words, I don't consider 'instinct' to be anything different to 'reason'. I just think that instinct is self-confirmed-reason (emotionally-absolute reason). What I'm saying is that 'instinct' takes over our life until reason steps in. That's why human-beings can change their nature - when they try.
It is important to take a quick look at instinct, so that we can differentiate it from reason (which I believe Carl has failed to do somewhat)...
My last statement deals with this. 'Instinct' is confirmed-belief. And belief comes via a specific reasoning.
For example, it is against my instincts to fly in an aeroplane. It scares me, embarrasingly - like you see some people become scared by common-spiders. But my reasoning-mind has still allowed me to fly on more than a dozen occaisions. To that extent, I have overcome my 'instincts'. And I want to change them. And ultimately, if my reasoning becomes convincing-enough (to myself), then my instincts shall also change.
What I am saying here, is that 'instinct' is not distinctly different from 'reason'... since it is the result of believed-reason. That applies to any level of reasoning, from any organism. It doesn't matter that the reasoning-process may be incorrect or stupid. What matters is that the organism which has such thoughts is convinced by those thoughts. As a result, 'instinct' takes a hold of ones experiences of life.
 
  • #31
In response to this, I will say that "instinct" is merely ~accepted knowledge~. I.e., instinct is 100%-believed knowledge which allows the Mind to work on ^auto-pilot^... so to speak. However, at the end of the day, all knowledge is reasoned by conciousness.
For example, if you instinctively run-away from spiders, then it's because you 100%-believe that spiders are the bogey-man, so to speak. However, if you ever face upto your irrational fear of all spiders, then it comes as no surprise that your 'instincts' suddenly start to become more mature.

Mature? Do you mean to say that when you face your fears, your instincts become mature? If so, you seem to be confused. Instinct only describes subconscious reactions. The maturity of insticts seems, at least to me (and I should note that I have a horrific fear of dogs! And no matter what I can't get over it...), takes more conscious thought than subconscious thought.

In other words, I don't consider 'instinct' to be anything different to 'reason'. I just think that instinct is self-confirmed-reason (emotionally-absolute reason). What I'm saying is that 'instinct' takes over our life until reason steps in. That's why human-beings can change their nature - when they try.

Lifegazer, instinct has nothing to do with reason. Reason is a consciously thought out process that is based on logic. Instinct on the other hand is ruled by the subconscious brain.
 
  • #32
Originally posted by MajinVegeta
Mature? Do you mean to say that when you face your fears, your instincts become mature?
You can change the instincts of your mind by squareing-up to those instincts. You can create new instincts for yourself. You can overcome fear and habit. I'm not saying that it's easy; but it can be done... and has been done by many people.
Lifegazer, instinct has nothing to do with reason. Reason is a consciously thought out process that is based on logic. Instinct on the other hand is ruled by the subconscious brain.
This is incorrect. If reason had no power over instinct, then we'd still be swinging in the trees and beating our chests. The mind of humanity is slowly changing our animalistic-instincts. We are not slaves to emotion, or physical-habit. Or at least, we do not have to be slaves to our emotions and habits.
When you confront and challenge instinct, you slowly change them. You create new instincts for yourself.
 
  • #33
Deslaar
42
0


Originally posted by Lifegazer
I'll try to remember the recommendation. But in the meantime - for discussion's sake - I would like to hear your synopsis.

On second thoughts I cannot present a synopsis that would add to the discussion or that I could defend without going into rigorous detail. I'm not prepared to make that effort, even if I were capable, but I'm happy to discuss it if you read the book.

I'm not trying to be evasive but it takes a book to build the case and answer the questions of consciousness.
 
  • #34
FZ+
1,588
3
You can change the instincts of your mind by squareing-up to those instincts. You can create new instincts for yourself. You can overcome fear and habit. I'm not saying that it's easy; but it can be done... and has been done by many people.
You have misunderstood the concept of instinct. Instincts are inborn psychological traits. They cannot be created by the mind - rather, they form the low level backbone of the mind.

This is incorrect. If reason had no power over instinct, then we'd still be swinging in the trees and beating our chests. The mind of humanity is slowly changing our animalistic-instincts. We are not slaves to emotion, or physical-habit. Or at least, we do not have to be slaves to our emotions and habits.
Nope. All that means is that the instincts of man are different to that of apes. You can mask instincts by conscious effort, but they are not changed themselves. Hypnosis anyone? If you remove the conscious entity, or the weight of experience, they re-emerge.

Please note how the beginning of DT Strain's invalidation of my philosophy starts-out with an assertion that "the organs" are responsible for my behaviour. So from the onset, DT Strain was set-out in defending his own beliefs. He had no intention of discussing my philosophy.
Showing an alternative to your philosophy is a way of discussing them.
 
  • #35
quantumdude
Staff Emeritus
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Gold Member
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Originally posted by Lifegazer
Please note how the beginning of DT Strain's invalidation of my philosophy starts-out with an assertion that "the organs" are responsible for my behaviour. So from the onset, DT Strain was set-out in defending his own beliefs. He had no intention of discussing my philosophy.

That is because your philosophy is superfluous and irrelevant.

LG, what you don't seem to want to face up to is that what DT Strain wrote there is backed up by tested theories. Your ideas, on the other hand, are backed up by nothing but appeals to ignorance and whatever you make up to fill in the details. Your discussions of 'how the mind works' and 'what instinct is' just proves that in spades.

I am satisfied with FZ's answers to the rest of your post, so I am not going to go into the part about instinct.

If you read the responses in this thread and the one on beauty, then you should understand why people think that the mind is a function of the brain.
 

Suggested for: A discussion about the brain.

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