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machine brains

Ray Scanlon rscanlon at wsg.net
Mon Feb 1 10:38:58 EST 1999

Joe Kilner wrote in message <78q0rp$5on$1 at pegasus.csx.cam.ac.uk>...
>You seem to be taking what I am saying as a criticism of neurological
>science - IT IS NOT!!!  I am questioning whether a scientific viewpoint can
>ever answer the types of question you are asking here.  To be honest I have
>dragged the discussion into my favorite part of philosophy - representation
>and intervention - but you always try to drag the discussion back on to
>own home turf fo neurological science - in fact I'm not even really sure we
>are still talking about the same thing here any more!  I get the feeling
>that you are taking my replys as an attack on your favourite discipline
>which they are not meant to be - I would never question whether
>science was a valid contributor to our body of scientific understanding but
>the question I am trying to get to here is that even if we were given a
>consisting of a complete scientific breakdown of the brain and all the
>processes that occur within it, what makes you believe that that would
>us to understand *fully* our own *innate* experience of conciousness?

This is your question, not mine. I have said many times, in many places,
that the major impediment to any attempt to understand the brain as a meat
machine is this red herring of awareness (consciousness). The soul (mind)
and its "innate experience of consciousness" is best left to religion. We
use our awareness as a guide to what is an acceptable explanation of the
brain and that is an end to it.

Our awareness leads us to believe that thinking is a recognizable function
of the mammalian brain so it interests us that the reticular nucleus of the
thalamus is positioned to delay motor output and halt incoming signal
energy. This function allows extra synaptic events to be interpolated
between sensory input and motor output and that is what I argue is thinking.

>What is there to link this to the "thinking" that I experience every day?

When life is secure and a supply of food is at hand, the brain is idle. The
reticular nucleus locks out sensory input from the neocortex, idle
association ensues. We note that the succeeding associations are linked by a
common element. This is exactly what we would expect from a group of neurons
that have been activated by residual signal energy only to habituate and
become quiescent but not before some of the neurons have started up another

>>Of course, that is a statement of faith, but my faith is stronger than
>>yours because I am pure of heart.
>I'm not quite sure what you mean by this.

Satire or sarcasm, take your choice.

Those interested in how the brain works might look at

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