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brain (fwd), this is funner and funner!

Richard Hall rhall at uvi.edu
Sun May 11 09:54:50 EST 1997

rlh reply at the end:

>On Sat, 10 May 1997 18:32:13, Richard Hall <rhall at uvi.edu> wrote:
>>Nice Flame.
>Cspecht writes:  [with embers glowing, ;-), rlh]

>one more time - the bulk of that post was not about religion - it referred
>the poster to references concerning a scientific and philosophical
>approach to question of consiousness.  sorry, i have studied MORE than
>just neuroscience.  what a shame.  why are you so hung up on that?
>whether you believe in god or not, religion is a fact and my response
>was valid and logical.  why don't you just read the rest of the post and
>contribute to it as well?

>try my very first post on the thread.  while you continue to focus on the
>religious "part", i referred the poster to writings of johnathan searle
>(whom you obviously have not studied) and francis crick (whom i am sure
>you at least heard of).


Ah! The flicker of flames.

I have not read searle, I read Foucault occasionally and recently finished
Karen Armstrong's "A History of God."  For popular science I follow S. J.
Gould, N. Eldridge, and Richard Dawkins.  I am not sure francis crick is
anymore qualified to discuss the question of consciousness than carl sagan
was qualified to discuss evolution of life on earth.  All the above are
bright people but I have not read any meaningful definition of
consciousness or sentience or free will that was ammenable to experimental
designs or even quantifable.

Still, why should I read searle based on your meandering posts?  If I am
wrong, show me, tell me, but do not waste time telling me to study the
writings of johnathan searle without first explaining clearly and hopefully
politely his central theme(s) and how he uses scientific evidence to
develop his hypotheses.  I have no intention of going back to your early
posts because you have given me no evidence that the earlier posts might
have meaningful content. That was not a flame, just an observation.

cspecht "writes":
>let me reiterate for one last time that while i mention religion, it was
>in context to a comment by eugene that "it does not matter" whether we
>"think" we make decisions, we acutually make decisions, or we are under
>some "illusion" that we make decisions (vis-a-vis free will).  whether you
>"think" it is relevant or not, religion (whether you believe or not; I DO
>NOT) is one reason that the notion has relevance.


The above sentence is inpenetrable.

Who is hung up on religion?  I am hung up on the lack of scientific
rationale in your posts.  I suspect the eugene has the same criticism.  As
to philosophy: Every animal must relate to "their" surroundings.  Neural
and neuroendocrine mediated responses to environmental circumstances play
key adaptive roles in multicellular animals.  The complexity of those
systems have increased and follow phylogenetic patterns. Many animal taxons
have representatives with well developed nervous systems using complex
circuits to process information and execute hopefully appropriate motor
responses to externally or internally generated cues.  The presence of
internally generated cues, the organization of the nervous system to use
internally generated cues with or without external cues as a basis of motor
behavior, and most significantly the ability to analyze the appropriatness
of actions based on those cues prior to execution of motor responses are
clearly high level processes.  There are some scientific possibilities in
the above crude model, but none are likely to discover the symbolic logic
or language of animal thought that would give them parity with our concepts
of conscious, sentient, and free will.

Remember all the science fiction where brain "waves" were automatically
translated into thoughts to share with the creapy, smelly human..oops,
aliens?  So if we cannot speak animal, read their nifty little minds, are
we being unscientific?  Will we politely listen to the earthworm's
manefesto: more loose fresh dirt and no more voles?

But what does it matter to know, philosophically:

is the animal conscious?
is the animal sentient?
does the animal have free will?

At what point would knowing that point matter?  Why would the animal care
if a human deemed it conscious, sentient, and possessing free will?  The
conscious, sentient, self-ordained animal would probably only hope the
human leaves it alone. So what does it matter?  We are not granting
political rights to any conscious, sentient, self-ordained animal that has
antennae, refuses to use cross walks, and could be considered lunch.

>that was my comment.  the rest of the post addressed the question from a
>scientific aspect (yes, from even the philosopher searle's point).  in 5
>or 10 or 26 years, you simply have not come across it, apparently.
>neverthless, consciousness has a home in science.  if you care to consider
>this, ask me for more references, if not, please provide some yourself.

You have yet to show that philosopher searle's ideas have relevance to
science. What is the scientific aspect of searle's work?  Until that is
clear, why would I want more references?

OK, as you have insinuated, I am an ignorant lout and I use a spell checker.
Your address suggests you are a teacher (but alas, the lack of specifics in
your writings indicates you are actually an administrator.)  So enlighten
me...what are searle's key points?  Again where is the science?  You spend
more time including little "digs and jabs" in your posts than you do
answering the question...where is the science?

Or are you Dr. Doolittle masquerading as Colleen Specht, academic?  [a
flame, rlh]


Richard Hall
Comparative Animal Physiologist
Division of Sciences and Mathematics
University of the Virgin Islands
St. Thomas, USVI  00802

rhall at uvi.edu

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