death of the mind.

Wolf Kirchmeir wwolfkir at
Thu Jul 15 22:23:43 EST 2004

Allan C Cybulskie wrote:
> However, there is a way around this problem, which is to say that the
> deliberation does, in fact, determine the action, but that the action and
> the conscious recognition of the action both are the result of a brain event
> (or an event) that is the outcome of the deliberation itself.  In short, the
> deliberation -- when it reaches its conclusion -- kicks off a brain event
> that both instigates the action, and the conscious recognition of it.  And
> it is obvious that these don't have to occur together, since we can make
> "delayed decisions", where we decide what to do at a future time, and then
> do it.

This explanation is concocted merely to save an a priori assumption, 
namely that deliberations precede actions. Trying to save an a priori 
assumption is not wrong in and of itself, if that assumption is itself 
the result of some viable theory. This sort of thing has been done many 
times in scientific theory building, and continues to be done. But there 
has to be some way of verifying that the posited phenomenon that saves 
the assmption actually occurs. I see some difficulties here, chief of 
which is that we don't know (yet?) how to recognise that deliberating is 
going on, apart from the subject's own reports - and it's the timing of 
those reports that have led to the discovery that activation precedes 
conscious decision to act.

It's possible to determine that a brain/person/animal is "thinking of X" 
by picking up electrical activity in the brain, using that signal to 
trigger an external device, and training the brain/person/animal to 
trigger that device by "thinking of X." That experiment has been done, 
and works - but there is no obvious way to determine that signals of a 
particular pattern constitute "thinking" - whatever "thinking" may be. 
The experiments I'm alluding to don't even demonstrate that thinking 
must be conscious.

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