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alert versus aware

Ray D. Scanlon rscanlon at wsg.net
Wed Sep 29 08:02:04 EST 1999

Martin Knopman writes:

> Personally, I do not subscribe to the concept of soul, and I have very
> reservations about mind.  The notion of a mind, not manifested physically
> yet able to INITIATE physical action, is a very tough one.  To me it seems
> obvious that its existence would run counter to the second law of
> thermodynamics ... which may not be a bad thing...

This notion of "initiation of events" is not compatible with physicalism.
The universe of physics is a closed system. The idea that there is a "God in
the machine" that may initiate a physical action is rejected.

I merely point out that anyone who insists that mind is other than soul is
taking sides in a philosophical argument. The argument runs that there is no
God in the physical universe and therefore we can say there is no God in the
psychical universe. To announce our position we say that all the qualities
of "soul" other than eternal existence adhere to "mind". This is a quarrel
between philosophers that I regard from a careful distance. To show that I
don't buy their gabble, I usually write "soul (mind)".

Science is limited to the universe of experience and does very well there.
Religion is limited to the psychical universe and also does very well.
Stephen Jay Gould introduces the concept of  NOMA, non-overlapping
magisteria. Both disciplines should stay in their own bailiwick and keep
their nose out of the other.

This lack of respect for the boundaries leads to most of the dissension in
AI. "Does the machine think?", they ask. Meaning does it have a soul (mind)?
The question is totally irrelevant to a scientific investigation. To a
religious investigation, it is fundamental.


Those interested in how the brain works might look at

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