What the Neocortex Does

Ray Scanlon rscanlon at wsg.net
Mon Aug 14 19:06:45 EST 2000

"James Teo" <james.teo at chch.ox.ac.uk> wrote in message
news:3997dc37.2873828 at news.freeserve.net...
> On Sat, 12 Aug 2000 21:18:34 -0400, "Ray Scanlon" <rscanlon at wsg.net>
> wrote:
> >Can you speak of the brain without speaking of neurons? I say a scientist
> >may not.  But a religionist may because his real interest lies in the
> >(mind). A religionist contemplates his soul (mind) and all sorts of
> >things are found. He speaks of memories of sunsets and the ecstasy of
> >The scientist looks at a cat's brain and finds only neurons. The
> >says that is because the cat cannot think, does not have language, does
> >have a soul. The scientist says he is not interested in the soul during
> >workweek, he looks at the brain.
> Depends on the religion, but as far as I know most religions have
> separated the concept of mind and soul. Mind is that self-conscious
> bit of yourself, while soul is that special spiritual thingey with no
> material basis.

I think few religious people would say their thoughts revolve about a
spiritual thingey.

In any event, this split between soul and mind occurred in the first half of
the nineteenth century when some atheists took to using "mind" when they
spoke of soul. (A new usage, not a new word.) They wished to speak of that
which thinks but they could not use the word soul because they were
freethinkers. This is all laid out in the O.E.D. People have deluded
themselves by continually using the words as not being synonymous. I think
the usage "soul (mind)" helps to remind us of that which we speak.

They are only words. But there is a small movement in certain circles to
point out that they are synonymous. One hopes that it grows.

Modern dictionaries, reflecting modern usage, tend to say that the mind
feels, perceives, thinks,and wills. To the soul they apportion the spiritual
principle, emotion, sentiment, and morality. The O.E.D. has the two words as

Who knows? I just say soul (mind).

> Cognitive scientists certainly do study the mind
> (and not the soul) and the hard problem of how neuronal firing becomes
> mind.

And I say they study the soul (mind).

Good Luck! They shall need it.

Those interested in the brain might look at

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