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machine brains

Ray Scanlon rscanlon at wsg.net
Wed Feb 17 12:00:31 EST 1999

Michael Edelman wrote in message <36C9BD35.351E56F4 at mich.com>...
>Ray Scanlon wrote:
>> lesterzick at earthlink.net wrote in message
>> <7a1v76$mgo$1 at nnrp1.dejanews.com>...
>> >Three questions:
>> >
>> >Does the brain think or does the mind?
>> >
>> >Can the brain think without a mind?
>> >
>> >Does the hardware run the software or does the software run the
>> The brain thinks, the soul (mind) is aware of the thoughts.
>> We can understand a brain that thinks without a mind. Whether or not a
>> that thinks must support (or might support) a soul (mind) is beyond the
>> capabilities of the human brain. It is better not to spend any time
>> on that question.
>I think you may be perhaps begging the question here. What does it mean to
>"think"? The brain is hardware. By itself, it does nothing. Does a computer
>"compute", or does the program?

"Thinking" occurs in mammals. It is the interpolation of extra synaptic
events between sensory input and motor output. The reticular nucleus of the
thalamus is able to halt signal energy at the lateral and medial geniculate
bodies and at the ventral basal complex of the thalamus. It may also halt
motor programs at the ventral anterior - ventral lateral complex. When
signal energy and motor programs are halted neurons in the neocortex and the
basal ganglia are free to continue their synaptic activity. (And ephaptic
and hormonal effects and all the rest.) Don't waste time talking about our
awareness of the brain's thoughts. That belongs to religion.

>By "mind" we generally mean the self-aware entity, that which can

"Mind" in this usage is a euphemism of the early nineteenth century. It was
introduced by men who wished to speak of the soul but still be known as
freethinkers. I think that when speaking of the brain it is better to say

Those interested in how the brain works might look at

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