a thinking brain

Glen M. Sizemore gmsizemore2 at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 3 08:26:39 EST 2004

RS: Homunculi

The homunculus is a little man who lives in the head. He looks out
through the eyes and operates a set of pulleys and levers that operate
the body. The only advantage that this homunculus has over the human
body without an homunculus is that it is no longer necessary to deal
with the relationship between the soul (mind) and the body (brain).
However, this problem is passed upwards to the homunculus who poses
the problem anew.

It is now modern times and the homunculus now sits in the center of
the head watching a TV set and punching buttons. Some sophistication
is added when it is pointed out that the TV screen is upside down.

This seems naïve to some. They prefer a much more sophisticated
homunculus. Their homunculus selects from data proffered by the brain,
manipulates the data, comes to a conclusion, and forwards the
conclusion to the brain for execution.

A simplistic approach is to simply say by fiat, "There is no
homunculus. There is no soul (mind)". This is the position taken by
many workers in the soft sciences.

GS: Well, virtually all of mainstream psychology is "homunculistic" as is a
fair amount of behavioral neuroscience. They, of course, deny this, but it
doesn't change the way they, otherwise, talk.

RS: But only at work. When they leave
the classroom, they discover that they do, indeed, have a soul (mind).

GS: How do they "discover" this?

RS: We like to say that the brain does the work, but the soul (mind) is
cognizant of the working brain.

GS: Who is "we?"

RS: To support this position, we design a
brain whose structure can support all the idiosyncrasies that we pile
together under "thinking".

We are forced to forget the vast, vast majority of the populace who
hold to one of the less sophisticated homunculi. They simply will not
understand, will not try to understand.

GS: Are you saying that you endorse the notion of the "homunculus" as the
thing that causes behavior?

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