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What is an Idea made of?

  1. Nov 17, 2004 #1
    I was just wondering...

    It sounds like a silly question but I ask it with all seriousness. Given the nature of all the particles, waves, sparks, quarks, wimps and what-nots that exist in the quantum realm I am curious as to what type of material an idea consists of.

    If I share a thought or mental image with you, do I add to your total mass? If I go in to a library and learn something new that I didn't know before I went in I have added to my knowledge but am I heavier, physically, when I leave?

    Picture a pig bouncing a glass ball while standing upside down on the bottom of a cloud. I have given you a picture that you didn't have. Where did I get the image? Where is the image stored and what is it made of? What color is the pig in your mind? Is the image a "real" thing? Like a beam of light or a gravity wave? Can it be measured or detected with an instrument?

    I was just wondering...
     
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  3. Nov 18, 2004 #2
    I think the process of learning alters chemical bonds in the brain. I dunno perhaps you break an H off one of those crazily long hydrocarbon chains. I guess that'd be breaking an S to SP bond (doesn't each carbon atom connect to the carbons on the side of it via SPx hybridization and to the hydrogens by Spy hybridization...yeah that makes sense energetically). I know that enzymes play a huge role in the body so you have to consider activation energies, so you can't just base all your analysis on what will lower the energy the most. So I don't think learning anything makes you heavier. It takes energy to break the bond, but so long as that H atom stays within your body, and you consider everything in your body to be your system, then you conserve mass.
     
  4. Nov 18, 2004 #3

    reilly

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    You have raised one of the central issues of modern neuroscience, which include what is consciousness, what's an idea, that is how does the mind/brain work?

    As RedX suggests, we do know that learning, forgetting, hanging out, and doing are generated by neural pulses. thus the brain is constantly physically changing. The molecular patterns in neural transmitters change substantially with receipt or generation of a pulse; the pulse is generated and sustained by non-linear currents -- sodium, potassium, and, (I think) calciumT-- that flow thorough the surface wall of the axon-- the neural conducting wire.The energies are so small that any mass change is virtually impossible to detect, but, technically there are mass changes constantly going on in the brain -- in the entire body for that matter. That these changes occur is of no great consequence.

    If you go to GOOGLE with neuroscience, or thinking, or .... you will be overwhelmed by the number of references, a testament to scientists grinding out understanding through constant application. There's a lot known, but more isn't
    Regards,
    Reilly Atkinson
     
  5. Nov 18, 2004 #4
    usefully structured shorted circuits of elecrocemical interactivity which at any given moment are triggered by specific signals that trigger parallel IF-THEN chemical processes which trigger more activity shaped by stored-pathways constructed by previous electrochemical activity stimulating hard-wared glial protein chains to form patched connections that can recall the state/circuit that the previous activity produced [memory]
     
  6. Nov 18, 2004 #5

    Les Sleeth

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    The structure and material of an idea might be as the other posters have said. But is an idea only its structure and material?

    An analogy I often use is that of a painting, say the Mona Lisa. If you describe the structure and materials of the paints, canvas, etc., have you described all that made that painting occur? Doesn't it seem to overlook da Vinci's creative contribution?

    Similarly, there is an idea along with its structural and material make up, and then there is the thinker of the thought and the meaning of the thought, which are not fully accounted for with physical characteristics.
     
  7. Nov 18, 2004 #6

    selfAdjoint

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    Your example of the painting - the disconnect between its subject and the materials it is made of - seems to be the same as Aristotle's example of the coin - the disconnect between the image on it and the metal of which it was made. In Aristotle's case this leads to dualism; the world of matter is distinct from the world of Forms. Doesn't your example also lead to that? Aren't ideas, for you, a completely separate order of reality from neurochemistry?
     
  8. Nov 18, 2004 #7
    This is how one can go about proving metaphysics to a skeptic. An idea is not tangible; it has no empirical, physical properties. You can not assign numbers or values to an idea. An idea is therefore the workings of the mind (metaphysical) put into tangible form with our speech or writing or w/e it is you're doing. This argument is extremely strong if it is expanded, since the Scientific Method tries to assign everything in the world values.
     
  9. Nov 18, 2004 #8

    DaveC426913

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    What I thought was fascinating was the proposal (don't know who started it, or how seriously it's taken, but I got it from a Robert J. Sawyer novel) that there is a quantum mechincal process that happens at the very root level of our thought processes.

    Since God Does play dice with the universe, and those QM events cannot be predicted or controlled, it means that our lives and behaviour are not completely deterministic, as a purely classical theory of life would lead us to conclude.

    It means quantum mechanics has gifted us with free will.
     
  10. Nov 18, 2004 #9
    Mind-body problem

    Your question of what an idea is made of is the main theme of the mind-body problem in philosophy.

    How can something material (the brain) create something immaterial (thought)?

    Many theories have been proposed from idealism to B.F. Skinner sweeping the issue under the rug.

    As far as I know, obtaining knowledge does not add mass to a body, just the same, storing information in a computer's hard drive does not add weight to the system.
     
  11. Nov 18, 2004 #10
    There is no evidence that brains create thoughts, if they did, they could do it when they were dead. So then if this is so, it might be more logical to think that something immaterial uses the brain to express its thoughts, when it’s alive.
     
  12. Nov 18, 2004 #11

    Kerrie

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    energy that is called will perhaps? i think ultimately and at it's most basic form, ideas, thoughts etc are a form of energy originating in the brain...
     
  13. Nov 18, 2004 #12

    StatusX

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    I think there is compelling evidence that the (living) brain is responsible for thoughts. I would say you are in an extremely small majority if you think the brain and our thoughts are unrelated. Why does a stroke affect someones ability to think? How come the electrical activity of the brain as seen in a cat scan can be put in a direct correspondence with different types of thoughts?

    Also, quantum mechanics says our actions can't be predicted, but it says nothing about will. These are random processes, what does it mean to say they give us free will?
     
  14. Nov 18, 2004 #13
    If everything is the result of a band of energy vibrating in 11 dimensions then an idea would have to be a number of strings that is dependant on it's vibrational rate and the dimensions it vibrates in just like a field/wave or an object/particle.

    The commonality of ideas would then be a vibrational and dimensional constant that we as evolved entities project onto spacetime fabric in much the same way as a flashlight projects light

    so how fast is the speed of thought if we can project an idea to the edge of existence and back in the blink of an eye ???
     
  15. Nov 19, 2004 #14

    arildno

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    What is an Idea made of?

    Probably the same stuff that dreams are made of.
     
  16. Nov 19, 2004 #15
    What is this evidence? You left out the fact that dead brains do not produce the same effect, maybe something is missing. When you say responsible, you say that brains produce them? You are claiming then that thoughts are physical. The mechanical explanations of how the brain works and all the other components of the body that work with it, are understood better as we build on each new discovery but to say that physical creates the non-physical is contradictory to what we know about reality.

    I agree with you I do not think that. I think the relationship is similar to a light bulb. Have you ever seen a light bulb, light up, if no electricity went through it? You need a light bulb, current and then you have light.

    Because the mechanism has been damaged. That says nothing to why the mechanism does not work or why thoughts are produced when it is not broken.

    Now that has always been my argument. I agree with you, the only way to test it would be for you to die during the experiment. But now listen, that still does not give us an explanation why brains create thoughts, it only says that brains are necessary and something more also.

    Quantum mechanics states that actions are in a state of all probabilities until observation occurs. The fact that observation changes random process into a collapsed engine state means there was a choice. What is interesting and that which we are discussing, is what made the observation? When an observation is made a choice is taken, nothing can change its result. Where the observer looks indicates its free will.
     
  17. Nov 19, 2004 #16

    selfAdjoint

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    Referring to the correlation between electrical activity of the brain and conscious thoughts, in modern experiments:


    No, it shows that brains are necessary, period. The "something more also" is your addition, solely deriving from your predjudice, and not in any way from experiment.
     
  18. Nov 19, 2004 #17

    Les Sleeth

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    There is only one way I have been able to get around dualism. It takes a bit to explain. I apologize in advance for the long-winded and speculative nature of my answer. :redface:

    I’ve been pondering why many thinkers resist duality, as though it seems counterintuitive to them. Even those scientists looking for a GUT I suspect are afflicted by a desire for unity, as I am myself.

    I wonder if the reason why “oneness” seems natural to some of us is because we really are intuiting some sort of unity that’s at the base of creation. You probably know that Bertrand Russell talked about neutral monism, a theory which postulates there is some most essential existential “stuff” of which everything is a form. If such an absolute foundation is present no one seems able to observe it, so one is limited to inductively modeling its nature, which I have done in other threads.

    While not accessible by the senses, people who become skilled at meditation often report achieving “union” with something that is bright and vibrant (some people who’ve taken psychotropic drugs have also described this). From such experiences I’ve modeled the absolute stuff as an uncreated, indestructible, infinitely extended continuum of vibrant illumination. If everything is a form of that illumination, then it means in its “neutral” state it must have the ability to become all that we are and see.

    I’ve speculated the continuum must be dynamic because without movement, nothing could happen. Maybe, for example, it incessantly compresses and decompresses in spots; maybe a rare occurrence is that a series of compressional events happen at a single spot and create some sort of polar, oscillating counterbalanced entity (it’s an “entity” in the sense that it acquires defining and lasting characteristics). In this way that an orderly dynamic can accidentally come about within, and be distinct from, the normally chaotic dynamics of the continuum. From that I see two possibilities (we are at last getting to our universe).

    One is, that “entity” which resulted from the compressional series becomes the Big Bang. That would mean right now what we call matter is compressed illumination, whose vibrancy is accentuated by compression to oscillate and polarize (say as proton and electron), and entropy and universal expansion are aspects of the process of decompression. In this theory, everything that has occurred (including life and consciousness) is pure accident resulting from the order and structure the original compressional series set up.

    The second theory makes more sense to me, which is that the original compressional series created a means for consciousness to evolve. Evolution becomes its nature, and unlimited by time or size restrictions it evolves until it develops the ability to compress an area of itself and cause the Big Bang. Everything would still be as it is in the first scenario, except now well-ripened evolutiveness is part of the fabric of the universe. Evolution is life forms is a manifestation of this quality, and the emergence of consciousness is actually the emergence of that evolutiveness, materializing through avenes univeral evolutiveness itself evolved (i.e., the nervous system).

    Okay, so to finally answer your question! :yuck: I am not saying I know that’s how creation is/works. What I am saying is that if one adopts a variety of neutral monism, then it is possible to model creation without dualism. One can recognize there is structure and function, and there is some kind of organizing force present too (or not, if one prefers the physicalist approach). In either case, because all of it is a “form” of the same absolute existential stuff there is no dualism. So what’s an idea made of? The same thing as everything else.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2004
  19. Nov 19, 2004 #18
    so we are in concurrence then Les ???

    ...background dependence on an underlying reality not yet visible. We are the manifestations of the unified theory
     
  20. Nov 19, 2004 #19

    Les Sleeth

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    One thing I would emphasize about my own view is that the explanation I have is largely theory, and I am still open to any other theory that makes more sense. The only thing I am sure of is that I do experience that "illumination" during meditation (and when I was younger, with peyote as well). All the rest is my attempt to fit observable facts with my limited experience of "something more."
     
  21. Nov 19, 2004 #20
    No experiment has ever shown that brains work, when there is no life in them. So do not tell me, that when they do have life, that they work on there own.
     
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