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brain (fwd)

F. Frank LeFever flefever at ix.netcom.com
Sun May 11 10:10:44 EST 1997

I am one who HAS studied more than neuroscience.  I was a philosophy
major at Kenyon College (before most of you were born).  I read and
write poetry.  I was a  boy preacher (Methodist).  etc. etc.

Snow wrote about the two cultures.  It is my experience that the
average scienntist knows far more about the humanities than the average
humanist knows about the sciences.  Or, more precisely, about SCIENCE,
i.e. the revolutiary way of thinking and achieving achievable (valid)
answers which very few (including many psych majors to whom I tried to
teach Experimental Psych, or at least the rudiments of the experimental

The arrogance of the ignorant is to neglect the possibility that these
"narrow" people lack the imagination or broad experience to see what
they see.  My own experience is that all you have thought I have
thought before, thought through, and discarded for better approaches.

Jean-Francois' post was to the point: define consciousness, and then we
can discuss it.

I have given up on Searles and the others who think they are beyond
this elementary necessity.  I have read MANY  so-called "debates"
(mind/body, mind/machine, etc.) by people who should know better: GIGO!
(garbage in, garbage out)

Wittgenstein saved me from a life of fruitless "philosophising" when he
pointed out that many of philosophy's classical questions were not real
questions at all: i.e. were not framed in a way that allowed an answer.

Percy Bridgman (famous paper "how to make our ideas clear" pointed out
that physicisists were doing the same thing, suggested we define
something by describing the operations we would perform to produce or
identify or measure it.  Subsequently, "operational definitions" became
important in the "science" of behavior (n.b. I am a Ph.D. in that
field)--albeit often misunderstood and misused (cf. its positivistic

The reason why this belongs not in neuroscience but in religion is
because in religion one is free to hold mutually contradictory
positions, undefined beliefs, etc., etc.  It becomes a fit subject for
neuroscience the moment it is defined, and by defined I mean defined in
a way that allows questions that can at least in principle be answered
(even if not now a PRACTICAL possibility).  (Old example from my
unbdergrad philosophy classes: what is on the other side of the moon?
In those days, in principle answerable, but not in practice...)

I said much of this (too subtly, indirectly?) in my original post(s)
(related ones on brains and consciousness and free will).  Maybe I
shoud re-post now that I have provided a pony?

Frank LeFever
New York Neuropsychology Group

In <Pine.GSO.3.95.970510211410.3369A-100000 at orichalc.acsu.buffalo.edu>
cmspecht at acsu.buffalo.edu writes: 
>On Sat, 10 May 1997 18:32:13, Richard Hall <rhall at uvi.edu> wrote:
>>Nice Flame.
>>I have no problem with the discussion, except that as many have
>>so many times before science focuses on questions that can be tested.
>>Phrases such as conscious mind, free will, etc. are not meaningful
>>any scientific context. The entire discussion does not fit
>>is as I stated better suited to other venues.
>one more time - the bulk of that post was not about religion - it
>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
>contribute to it as well?
>>From my address, you might realize that I am a trained and qualified
>>scientist (for over 26 years).  In fact, I have some experience with
>>neurosciences and present course material from a very formal
>>perspective. This is not the first time, I have listened to "How many
>>angels can dance on the top of a pin, what makes humans so special"
>>Where do you see the science in any of the re:brain "discussion"?
>try my very first post on the thread.  while you continue to focus on
>religious "part", i referred the poster to writings of johnathan
>(whom you obviously have not studied) and francis crick (whom i am
>you at least heard of).
>let me reiterate for one last time that while i mention religion, it
>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
>some "illusion" that we make decisions (vis-a-vis free will).  whether
>"think" it is relevant or not, religion (whether you believe or not; I
>NOT) is one reason that the notion has relevance.
>that was my comment.  the rest of the post addressed the question from
>scientific aspect (yes, from even the philosopher searle's point).  in
>or 10 or 26 years, you simply have not come across it, apparently.
>neverthless, consciousness has a home in science.  if you care to
>this, ask me for more references, if not, please provide some
>colleen specht

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