brain and mind

Marj Tiefert marj at biosym.com
Tue Jan 31 13:00:55 EST 1995


In article <3g1uks$ldv at strauss.udel.edu>, greggt at strauss.udel.edu (Thomas R. Gregg) writes:
|>  <jwwilliams at gems.vcu.edu> wrote:

[misc. snips here & there...]

|> Remember that attention filters out most details from consciousness.  

ah - what is ``attention''? -brain, mind, ``mind''? you seem to be maybe
perhaps possibly ;) invoking something other than neurochemistry here?

|> I think you mean that the brain does not have enough capacity to account 
|> for our experience of perception and thought.  Even if this is right, 
|> you should provide a reasonable alternative to the idea that the brain is 
|> the thing that thinks.  If not the brain, then what?

well, just at the start of this exerpt, you yourself say ``I think'', not 
``my brain thinks'' - which seems to suggest that deep down, you might
not be all that comfortable with a strictly mechanistic (neurochemical)
explanation?

|> E=mc^2 does not imply that mass does not exist.  For the purposes of this 
|> discussion, I think we can assume that both mass and energy are real.

well, maybe e = mc^2 doesn't imply that mass doesn't exist, but what
about the Schroedinger equation? if you stare at electrons (etc.) 
long enough, they dissolve into pure mathematics. we can maybe agree
that a table is ``real'', in that we can see & touch it & push against
it without sinking into or through it, but are its electrons, protons &
neutrons ``real'' when they can be represented by probability functions?

|> The "where is this thought?" question is interesting.  Does it exist in 
|> my mind, your mind, or on the computer screen?  

not on the computer screen, though it can be conveyed by a computer
screen

|> "What is this thought?" is even more difficult to answer.  However, I
|> think of "brain function" as being manifested in observable behavior.  So
|> from my perspective, for example, the function of motor cortex is to help
|> initiate movements.  The function of visual cortex is to help decode the
|> meanings (i.e., relevance to reproductive fitness) of visual stimuli.  We

i.e. or e.g. ?

|> can understand these functions of brain areas without asking questions
|> like "what is a thought?"  We can understand much of brain function while
|> ignoring questions like those. 

we can, but that does not necessarily invalidate the questions - it just
acknowledges that they are not _scientific_ questions

|> -- 
|> Tom

(sorry for the late followup - we have a sloooooooooow newsfeed)
and, in case it's not clear above - i intended the gotcha's to be
gentle  :)

regards,

-- 

Marj Tiefert, Biosym Technologies, San Diego, California,  USA
marj at biosym.com <-- this is correct, auto-reply could be wrong

I never object to a certain degree of disputatiousness in a young man
from the age of seventeen to that of four or five and twenty, provided
I find him always arguing on one side of the question.
                                          --S. T. Coleridge, 1817
   http://www.lib.virginia.edu/etext/stc/Coleridge/stc.html

-- 
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* DISCLAIMER: Unless indicated otherwise, everything in this note is          *
* personal opinion, not an official statement of Biosym Technologies, Inc.    *
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