What is the mind?
rscanlon at wsg.net
Wed Dec 2 18:14:49 EST 1998
Anders N Weinstein wrote in message
<743vgf$feu$1 at usenet01.srv.cis.pitt.edu>...
>In article <36655970.0 at ns2.wsg.net>, Ray Scanlon <rscanlon at wsg.net> wrote:
>>Anders N Weinstein wrote in message
>>Replace the euphemism "mind" with "soul".
>>just say soul (mind, self, intelligence, whatever) and relegate the whole
>>discussion to religion.
>I could use "soul" as well, but it seems to me that term comes laden
>with a lot of baggage I don't want. I certainly don't want to
>relegate the topic to religion. The point of my recommendation
>is to *de*mystify, not obfuscate. But you seem to want to retain something
>mysterious about subjectivity.
Not at all, I merely want to make a distinction between that which belongs
to the material universe and that which does not. The soul (mind) does not
belong to the material universe. The philosopher makes it his business to
erect castles of words, wonderful, beautiful castles that obscure the
reality that the soul (mind) is not part of the world of experience. He
confuses people. This is the way he gets a publication together.
Man lacks the intellectual equipment to understand the relationship between
body and soul (mind). The best course of action is to accept this and be
quiet, but then what would the philosopher do for publication? This is not
to mystify, this is merely to accept human limitations.
>>Nonsense. The brain does the thinking, the soul experiences the activity
>>neurons and calls it thoughts. Philosophy is just watered down religion
>I think this is hopelessly confused. When the soul does this
>"experiencing" is that not a kind of thinking? At any rate it is a
>mental process. Your picture seems to contain a weird reduplication of
>the mental events here, first the thinking allegedly done in the brain,
>then the experiencing of the results (by you yourself?) in the soul.
>But grammatically, it is the same subject -- the human being -- that
>does the thinking and the experiencing.
Confusion is in the eye of the beholder.
It is not a "kind of thinking", it is not a mental process. The soul (mind)
experiences the activity of the brain, that is all.The brain does all the
"thinking", the deciding, the implementation of the decision.
>Your picture is loosely Cartesian, of course. But for Descartes, as I
>recall, the brain served as the site of sensory images (the "corporeal
>imagination"). These must be taken as *inputs* to the immaterial
>rational intellect (soul). It could only be the soul in which both
>conscious thinking and experiencing takes place. For it is an operation
>of the rational intellect to apply the concepts (ideas)
>via which one cognizes what is presented via the senses.
Descartes was a brilliant man, but a man of his times, the seventeenth
century. His best notion of a mechanical explanation was a pneumatic device.
In 1998 he would tell a far different story, a tale of molecules and ion
currents, he would have no need of soul (mind).
To put it simply, Descartes put forth the sophisticated homunculus, the soul
(mind) that selected from the data proffered by the brain, manipulated that
data, came to a conclusion, and forwarded the
decision to the brain for execution. The soul (mind) does none of these, the
soul (mind) is merely aware of the activities of the brain.
If you are uneasy with the soul (mind) and its "baggage" then just drop the
subject. A materialistic explanation of the brain has no need of soul
(mind), biology has no need of soul. Only the philosopher needs a
conjunction of soul and body so that he may have something to talk about.
Those interested in how the brain works might look at
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