Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Mind-Body question

The reduction of the mind to electrical and chemical processes in the brain is one of the most absurd, nihilistic ideas ever constructed by the human mind.


Here is a recent thread on the subject from Alfred Corn.

Alfred Corn
March 25  ·

The venerable philosophical conundrum: What is the relationship of consciousness to the physical body?

You, Carolyn Holmes Gregory, Ann Wood Fuller and 26 others

Surazeus Simon Seamount Consciousness is a function of the chemical brain. The physical body supports the brain that generates consciousness. Consciousness vanishes to nothing when the body ceases to function.

Ida Jablanovec Surazeus, maybe. What if I also have a soul? I've had encounters where 'the soul' was evident, something that may not be quantifiable. What does the brain do when we die? Is death instantaneous throughout the body at one time, SNAP. Or does consciousness ebb as we die, ebb in stages.

Surazeus Simon Seamount The soul is a function of the brain and vanishes at death. The molecules of our bodies and brains disperse at death and the soul does not survive the death of the body.

Surazeus Simon Seamount One clear indication that neither the soul nor consciousness can survive the death of the body is that we blank out when we fall asleep. If the soul was so powerful as to survive the death of the body, then we would remain completely conscious when the body sleeps.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 11:12am

Ida Jablanovec Surazeus, I know memory dies with the cellular death. However, what if we have a soul. Or, is our having a soul, just a manifestation of our conscious wish for eternal or longer life.

Surazeus Simon Seamount You describe not the soul but the functions of chemicals and electricity, which are not peculiar to individual organic creatures.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 11:12am

Surazeus Simon Seamount Yes, centuries ago people invented the concept of the soul, which in Greek is Daimonos and in Latin is Anima, to refer to the animating function of our bodies.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 11:13am

Ida Jablanovec Surazeus, but your mind is active and dreaming when you are unconscious/asleep. This has been proven by real-time brain imaging. Dogs and cats also dream as shown by brain imaging.

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 11:14am

Surazeus Simon Seamount I do believe that our DNA will have "new life" in the bodies of our children.

I also believe that the process of our brain functions which accumulate memories and knowledge will pass on in the DNA. Organic creatures whose brains function specific way...See More

Like · Reply · March 25 at 11:15am

Surazeus Simon Seamount How my brain functions has been developed by millions of years and thousands of generations of billions of individuals who are all my ancestors, so that we are in effect the "re-in-carnations" (again-in-flesh) of all our ancestors.

So the complete functioning of my mental consciousness is the accumulated result of millions of years of billions of individuals, so thus we feel like we have been alive for so long.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 11:17am

Ida Jablanovec Surazeus, I agree with your science. It's logical. And you communicate it well. However, your metaphysics is next to nil. Even humans evolved in their consciousness to become modern humans.

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 11:18am

Surazeus Simon Seamount I have no metaphysics. Our brains are vision dream machines. Language is our way of encapsulating the visions our brains generate in a way that communicates them to other minds. Which is why poetry is a powerful visionary function.

We can convert our mental visions into poems as spells that generate our conscious visions in other minds, but our own consciousness vanishes at the death of the body.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 11:20am

Ida Jablanovec Surazeus, a half a century before Einstein envisioned the 4th dimension of time, Abbott Abbott a theologian and mathematician envisioned dimensions in his short and humorous and simply written novella "Flatland". Are you familiar with Flatland?

Like · Reply · March 25 at 11:27am · Edited

Surazeus Simon Seamount Our children and the art we create are the only things that persist after our consciousness vanishes, preserving our experiences and visions in DNA brain structure and poetic imagery.

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 11:25am

Ida Jablanovec Surazeus, so poetry and art, things fictional, serve a purpose?

Like · Reply · March 25 at 11:26am

Surazeus Simon Seamount Children naturally preserve the mental psychic structure of our brains and carry on the experiences of our consciousness.

But poetry and art we invented to reflect the world we experience.

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 11:30am

Ida Jablanovec Surazeus, you don't have to convince me of the necessity of children. But you have to convince me that other than adding the "random element" into reproduction, men are necessary. Men think they don't need women for anything but breeding. Men are c...See More

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 11:39am

Alfred Corn Consciousness requires chemical and electrical energy. The axiom of the Conservation of Energy says it can never be destroyed, only transformed.

Like · Reply · 2 · March 25 at 12:10pm

Write a reply...

Robert Rhodes One keeps moving, the other doesn't.

Like · Reply · 2 · March 25 at 9:03am

Danny Rendleman Nothing but chemistry and electricity. All else is subterfuge, however else we pretend otherwise.

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 9:10am

Simon Paul Augustine If this be subterfuge, then let me be a double agent spying in the halls of knowledge!

Like · Reply · March 25 at 11:04am

Ida Jablanovec Danny, I am a spy in the house of the soul.

Scott Edward Anderson The body is a place for the mind to dwell.

Like · Reply · 2 · March 25 at 9:28am

Don Lawson Consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the physics occurring in the "meat" of the brain.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 9:29am

Gary Gach the materialst p.o.v. yes

Robert Schechter I could answer this question, but perhaps Facebook isn't the appropriate medium. Follow me on Twitter.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 9:42am

Gary Gach replied · 3 Replies

Pam Uschuk Taking care of the body is part of being conscious of one's place in the Universe. Stretching the body can stretch the mind and its consciousness.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 9:43am

Christian Langworthy That's an impossible question to answer when science has no clue.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 9:47am

Frank Beck I don't know the answer, but I know who's trying to find one:

Beyond The Mind-Body Problem | The Human Consciousness Project | Nour…

Like · Reply · 2 · March 25 at 9:54am

Venkatesan Iyengar Consciousness has many shades and layers. I guess when we get a clear idea about stuff like dark matter and dark energy, perhaps we'll have a better understanding of what constitutes cosmic consciousness and what it encompasses. Consciousness like everything else is governed by the laws of the universe.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 9:57am

Bharat Ravikumar Beyond a point body/consciousness does not work as a distinction. They interpenetrate in surprising ways. Sometimes the body manifests a state of consciousness when a wavelength is tuned into. I suppose consciousness is ineffable and the human frame a ...See More

Like · Reply · 3 · March 25 at 10:01am

Alfred Corn Conjoined twins; Inseparable; and yet not the same thing, not the same person..

Like · Reply · 3 · March 25 at 10:04am

Bharat Ravikumar Well all human life, indeed our perspectives are based on a coexistence of indivisibility and interconnection,the individual and the collective. It can be a very dodgy balance requiring innumerable calibrations are reconfigurations . A certain metaphys...See More

Like · Reply · March 25 at 10:09am

Robbi Nester First cousin?

Like · Reply · March 25 at 10:11am

Billy Mack Mcbride I think it is the cause of our tears and other sympathies which we feel.

Like · Reply · 2 · March 25 at 10:29am

Jack Miller The physical body consists of perceptions in the mind. We are too inclined to make what Whitehead termed "the fallacy of misplaced concreteness " thinking constructs and ideas are more real than perceptions.

Like · Reply · 2 · March 25 at 10:33am

Jacalyn McNamara Eternal mystery

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 10:34am

Simon Paul Augustine There are so many potential answers to this question: Reality is constituted by the relationship between perception and matter; consciousness is a figment of the imagination's imagination; without consciousness, no question can be asked and thus consciousness is All, etc. But instead of answering a question pretending as if we are confident of the answer, as if it is a question that can be answered like other questions, how about exploring the question with the approach of "Not Knowing," - and then experiencing our not-knowing deeply? Or put another way - "not what is it, but how am I using it in this moment?" If I am using "it" fully, what happens to the "It," - and then how relevant are questions and answers about WHAT it is? What happens to the "I" who is trying to answer the question? What happens to the drops of identity and meaning as we plunge into experiencing, into mystery? They transform. What does it mean to ask a question to which there is no answer? If we begin with the mantra of our fundamental unsurety, our curiosity, and feel and sense what happens, that often takes us to a very different place than if we simply lean back in our chair, ponder the question philosophically, and arrive at an answer that satisfies, reassures, and protects us.

Thomas Graves There is only the beating heart.

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 10:48am

Chauncey Mabe Everything ultimately is physical. Every thought, every noble feeling, arises from molecules and electricity acting on the brain and body. Not only is there no consciousness apart from the brain, there is no mind-body dichotomy, either. The body is the brain. This might seem to forestall spirituality, but it does not.

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 10:51am

Alfred Corn But when I think, when I feel, when I perceive, the experience is not of molecules dancing or electricity running through neurons: it is of consciousness in all its various aspects.

Unlike · Reply · 6 · March 25 at 10:59am

Simon Paul Augustine Though here you are defying what the scientific method has taught us - that is, the observations of quantum mechanics: that matter is not the solid, static thing we once thought it was, and that it is dependent, or interdependent on perception - that is, an act of consciousness. At the other side of the what could be called the argument of "Reductionism ad absurdum" is the position that consciousness is All, and matter only a formation of it (which is typically the most spiritually inclined position). Because a "noble feeling" is concurrent with an electric occurrence in the brain, does that reduce the significance of this feeling, or mean a feeling can be explained through electrical impulses in the brain? How are those electrical impulses observed in the first place? Matter is perceived, that perception is then imputed to a status of matter, and then status is in turn perceived again, in an infinity. But although this material reductionism seems to defy logic and science, logic and science are not everything. I am interested to understand Chancey, how you would use the position you describe to then not forestall spirituality but expand upon it?

Unlike · Reply · 3 · March 25 at 11:02am

Robin Scofield John Wheeler thought that the Quantum world must be conscious since we are. He called his theory the It from Bit. Some scientists thought he had gone off his head, though.

Like · Reply · 2 · March 25 at 11:07am

Chauncey Mabe The neuroscientists would have it that all that thinking and feeling is epiphenomena, a thin layer of foam atop the vasty deep of our biological existence. What's more, they argue that everything we say and do is the result of the autonomous sympathetic nervous system, which acts with a speed the conscious brain cannot match. As a result, such niceties as free will are imaginary, and you (me, and everyone) do not in fact exist, but are an accident, and an illusion of biological processes. I can ride along with them until this last part. When we reach the state line of consciousness and free will, I think it does not matter what the mechanics are. "Sentio, ergo sum." But that's just me.

Unlike · Reply · 5 · March 25 at 12:05pm · Edited

Lamont Palmer I'm a dualist. I strongly believe the brain and the mind are separate. There is indeed a 'ghost in the machine', and the death of the body isn't the death of the mind/soul.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 12:11pm

Lamont Palmer And to add, not even Hawking or Dawkins can explain consciousness or self-consciousness; being aware of being aware. How can mere matter produce such wonderful images? Something else is going on, people.

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 12:15pm

Chauncey Mabe But neuroscientists think they can. No, they are certain of it.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 12:51pm · Edited

Jack Miller My perceptions are mental and my mind is the place of my perceptions. Matter is an idea, and not so very clear an idea, in the mind.

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 1:24pm

Simon Paul Augustine And yet what kind of free will or ability allows the neuroscientists to make this assertion which they believe to "explain" the same processes they are using to posit the explanation? From what conceptual plateau can they "see" the nature of the mecha...See More


Michael Gregory Stephens Walking.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 10:58am

Sam Gwynn Phaedrus.

Like · Reply · 2 · March 25 at 11:01am

Sam Gwynn The body sleeps, but I'm not sure about consciousness.

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 11:02am

Ed Nudelman 5 + 5 = 10 because I define the rules and I accept the uniformity of principle (that is, that it will always be true). I can accept the logic of the basis premises because I understand the rules and causality of addition. All I will add to this wonderf...See More

Like · Reply · 2 · March 25 at 11:02am

Greg Caramenico I'd recommend the "Consciousness" chapter of my book, Coming to Mind ; also Evan Thompson's Sleeping, Waking, Dreaming; maybe Zahavi/Gallagher's phenomenology of consciousness work.

Like · Reply · 2 · March 25 at 11:25am

Robert Peate I resolved it in 1991. The mind and the body are the same.

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 11:35am

Olivia Byard replied · 1 Reply

Kevin Bowen Pascal's great question as well I believe, unanswered.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 11:45am

Charles Braddy They are one

Shakila Khalje Body is the vehicle, but consciousness/truth can exist with or without.

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 12:04pm

Earl Cooley III Strange loops.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 12:14pm

Earl Cooley III replied · 1 Reply

Susan Blackwell Ramsey This is where Oliver Sacks is good reading, especially pieces where previous belief is supplemented by MRIs, by actually watching the brain's reaction to, say, music, and considering what we can objectively see in the context of the mind.

Like · Reply · 4 · March 25 at 12:18pm

Greg Caramenico Also, Varela and Maturana on embodiment are great foundational thinkers.

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 12:28pm

Billy Mack Mcbride We are aware of our dying but not of our death since that would end consciousness. So there can never be death, as we know it, since a knowledge of death would mean that we still live.

Like · Reply · 2 · March 25 at 12:28pm

Billy Mack Mcbride replied · 7 Replies

Susana Roberts One of continual struggle...

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 2:38pm

Doug Anderson "The body has a mind of its own." Joe Orton

Larry Frascella Well I just heard that the function of one third of our genes is unidentified. So I'd say the status of the relationship between mind and body is: unknown.

Pam Uschuk Thanks for the see for another poem.

Peter Rosenfelt existentialists take consciousness to be free choices.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 4:27pm

Jack Miller Subject: "The fallacy of misplaced concreteness" 
The “fallacy of misplaced concreteness”
The term comes from the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead.

The main form of the fallacy entails “taking the abstractions about some actuality that are focused on by some particular science (or science in general) due to its limited interests or methods, to be a complete description of the actuality in its concreteness”.
An example would be to mistake the notion of time found in physical formulas and mathematical representations of reality for “time” as “experienced” and found in reality itself.

In physics formulas time is an abstraction which does not distinguish between the past, the present or the future. In physics time is at least in theory reversible and symmetrical. In experience and in intuition time is none of these things. To assert therefore that the notions of time derived from physics represent the metaphysical truth about the reality of time is to engage in “the fallacy of misplaced concreteness”.
Another example would be the notion that matter is inert and insensate (has no subjective interiority, experience or self determination) whatsoever. One asserts this because science as an empirical, objective and quantified science has no way of detecting “subjective experience” of humans, higher animals, lower forms of life or any other actuality. To then assert that mind, that subjective experience is some form of mere epiphenomena or illusion is to engage in “the fallacy of misplaced concreteness”.

To mistake our perceptions (particularly our sensory perceptions) of things for the thing itself is an unjustifiable assumption about reality. This is of course reminiscent of Kant’s warning and all forms of phenomenalism about the difference between reality and our perceptions of it.
The fallacy of misplaced concreteness is largely responsible for the modern worlds and modern sciences denial of the reality of time, of experience and of mind and the perception. That such “hard core common sense intuitions” which we all utilize in practice (even if we deny them in theory) are mere illusions. That the world as represented by science is “the real world” rather than a partial and incomplete picture of a world which has aspects and features which can not be captured by objective observation, sensory perception or quantified by measurement.

Barry Tebb I am a dualist-mind and body exist as separate entities but function together.At the point of death the body dies but consciusness (the mind,the soul) continues.The late Professor H D Lewis was very good at explaining this.

Like · Reply · 2 · March 25 at 4:40pm

Barry Tebb Have shared with delight,Alfred!

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 4:42pm

Chad Parmenter My consciousness keeps feeding my physical body chips. smile emoticon

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 5:34pm

Marilene Yoakim Sawaf

Eben Alexander May Newsletter – Accessing Universal Consciousness

Like · Reply · March 25 at 5:57pm

Chris Madoch They are just fuck buddies who meet secretly after fulfilling their remit to be goodly fathers.

Like · Reply · March 25 at 6:45pm

Ed Nudelman Dennitt's "Consciousness Explained," is the best thing I've ever read on the subject (1991)

Like · Reply · 1 · March 25 at 7:59pm

Marcus T. Cicero Consciousness is to brain as the experience of driving a car is to the functioning of the various systems in the car. No car, no experience of driving. However, the experience of driving is not the car. (This is the "Qualia Argument.) I've read widely on this subject and recommend Nagel's book as a start.

Like · Reply · 1 · Yesterday at 4:03am · Edited

Marcus T. Cicero  Nagel is not a theist; instead he advocates a neutral monist naturalist approach, believing there is a natural teleology to consciousness. (He rejects theological explanations of consciousness merely because they offer answers outside the world, which therefore lack any productive stance. He rejects materialism with three knockout blows: the (random) appearance of consciousness; the (random) appearance of reason; and the (random) appearance of value as human facts. Hence the notion of a naturalist teleology, i.e., the universe becoming increasingly aware of itself.) If you want to start earlier, read Searle. You'll find _Intention_ by Elizabeth Anscombe is worth the read.

Like · Reply · 1 · Yesterday at 4:17am

Ron Smith No body, no consciousness (as far as I can tell).

Like · Reply · Yesterday at 7:18am

Marilene Yoakim Sawaf Nobody knows anything about it for sure except for what they heard or read, were taught or learned. This is why I believe the millions of people who had NDE experiences and saw their consciousness survive after their heart stopped while they floated in...See More

Like · Reply · Yesterday at 9:07am · Edited

Mike New I think this poem by my friend Paul E. Anderson speaks to the question.

Freedom...See More

Like · Reply · 1 · 14 hrs

Ron Smith Seems to me that the evidence (and there is plenty, I think) is clear: Consciousness is generated by the body. Before you had a body, you had no consciousness. After your body shuts down completely, same thing, almost certainly. Is there room for doubt? Of course. But only a very, very little room, I'd say.

Like · Reply · 1 · 13 hrs · Edited

Jack Miller My experience is just the opposite. First comes consciousness and perceptions; then comes the body and sensations associated with body parts. If you are interested in the opposite view, read the post above about the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness, a...See More

Like · Reply · 13 hrs

Ron Smith "There is no mind, only brain" is silly, since we all experience consciousness constantly (when we are conscious). My answer above is ontological. Your answer above is phenomenological.

Jack Miller An interesting way of looking at the problem. Nonetheless, stubbornly, contrarily, I remain an idealist . I find mind to be ontologically more real than matter. Not many philosophers today, much less scientists, are able to fathom such a viewpoint.

Jack Miller

Bernard d'Espagnat: What we call 'reality' is just a state of mind

Marcus T. Cicero One circularity of discussing consciousness is in using reason to try to understand reason, and in evolutionary biology that circularity becomes absurdity. In the Paleolithic there was no need to have the capacity to create Euler's Identity or the ability to appreciate it.

Like · Reply · 5 hrs

Tom Thompson The standard answer, I think, is that they're essentially one and the same, i.e., that there is no dualism. It must be said, however, that we certainly feel as if our mind is somehow different from our body, and that may be why the religious see is as connected to the concept of "soul." I'm enough of an agnostic not to take a position on this, but I sense that everyone who has ever thought about the issue feels quite passionately about it.

Unlike · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs

Jack Miller It is especially interesting to me that new discoveries in quantum physics actually support idealism. The greatest of the physicists, including Einstein saw more to reality than materialism. Here from last year is a fascinating look that includes a reference to Rashomon and the Vedas...

The Reality of Quantum Weirdness
New experiments confirm that nature is neither here nor there.