[Neuroscience] Re: Need Help With Neuroscience-Related Article

polly jo via neur-sci%40net.bio.net (by jopower At yahoo.com)
Fri Jan 5 16:28:43 EST 2007


--- "ian.vitro" <ian.vitro At gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi,
> 
> As a grad student with boatloads of neuro training,
> I could put in more
> than 2 cents worth. As Glen says, there's a good
> deal of hyperbole
> here. The article talks mostly about work from the
> 19th century, which
> we've largely moved beyond in many respects. The
> subsequent ones
> address modern research, but I couldn't access them
> to give a breakdown
> on any one in particular.
> 
> Most modern neuroscientists are not concerned about
> "Who am I?" in
> their research. We try to limit ourselves to
> questions we can answer if
> we want to make progress at a scientific level. But
> it is arguable that
> questions such as this drove early neuroscience
> research. In Phineas
> Gage's time (the accident was 1848) most of the
> world consisted of
> confirmed dualists, and the study of mind and brain
> were only just
> starting to coincide thanks to the work of men like
> Broca, Wernicke and
> Hughlings-Jackson later in the 19th and early 20th 
> centuries.
> 
> There are indeed dualists within modern neuroscience
> and the philosophy
> of neuroscience. Check people like Hameroff &
> Penrose (we can't imagine
> how consciousness might work, so it must be really
> complicated and
> involve some equally complicated branch of science -
> I know! Quantum
> physics!) and Frank Jackson (and the concept of
> qualia); who seem to
> believe that whatever the mind is, it consists of a
> physical portion
> and some other portion which is affected by
> unmeasurable, unknowable
> forces. Even some respected scientists, Sir John
> Eccles for example,
> emerge as dualists under close scrutiny.
> 
> I am personally a staunch monist (see Patricia
> Churchland, bless her
> heart; and Daniel C. Dennett for arguments
> supporting this side).
> Problem is that once you start talking about "self"
> and consciousness,
> you start getting uncomfortably close to what people
> might think of as
> a soul. And a lot of people aren't willing to let go
> of that concept
> (and they might be right for all we know), and thus
> feel that some part
> of the mind continues forever as a soul, and
> therefore some part of the
> mind must be non-material. My personal feeling is
> that, like
> creationism, this has no place in a science
> classroom or experimental
> reasoning, but it needs to be debated.
> 
> The analogy of "software" comes from the view of the
> mind as a
> non-physical aspect of the brain, or at least
> implies that it exists.
> It is a fairly common one, and I really don't like
> it because of the
> clear dualist implications. I like the metaphor
> offered by the monists
> that describe consciousness as an "emergent
> property" of the brain.
> Like in nanotech or computer simulations of pattern
> recognition, large
> groups of information processing units seem to
> spontaneously
> self-assemble to maximize efficiency, some
> philosophers think something
> similar occurs in brains using neurons and glia, and
> their
> multitudinous electrical and chemical interactions.
> 
> To be honest, we still have some scientists and
> philosophers debating
> dualism. However, dualism includes by definition a
> component
> inaccessible through the material realm, and thus
> unmeasurable to
> science. Because science concerns itself with the
> physical and
> material, it shouldn't try too hard to incorporate
> dualism into its
> theories.


I would imagine that the "dualism" in mind-brain
dichotomy can be very subtle. Would you call an idea
that the mind is an "emergent property" of the brain
activity, a dualist behaviour? If you should have read
a paper by Karl Popper, in Journal of theoretical
biology, (and if you fund the refence, please may I
have it as well?... I have'nt been to locate this
paper after the one time read it), wherein it gives
equations for "mind force fields" .... the
interactionist hypothesis clearly states that this
is'nt an ontological duality, but that of
subjective-objective dualism.

This is since one cannot assign clear cut areas for
all the properties of the "mind", ergo, cognition to
separate areas of the brain..... and then "summate"
it..... does that make sense? 


polly 


> 
> Ian Vitro
> PhD Candidate in Neurological Science, McGill
> University
> 
> beachnut wrote:
> > Hi, all.
> >
> > I need some help here.  My girlfriend sent me an
> article
> > from 'The Economist' (link below), and it has
> created
> > an awful fight between us!  If some of you have a
> few
> > spare minutes, it's short, and I could use some
> feedback
> > from scientists.  I have an Electrical Engineering
> > degree and she has degrees in languages and
> education,
> > so we're not experts in neuroscience.
> >
> > For those who read the article, my questions are:
> >
> > 1.  The subtitle is "Modern neuroscience, says
> Geoffrey
> >     Carr, is groping towards the answer to the
> oldest
> >     question of all: who am I?".
> >
> >     Are [most] neuroscientists really concerned
> with
> >     "who am I" in their work?
> >
> > 2. Later, the author states:
> >
> >    "If the essence of individuality can be changed
> by
> >     a physical accident, it implies that the brain
> is
> >     a mechanism which generates the self, rather
> than
> >     merely an organ which houses it."
> >
> >     I say "duh"!!  Is neuroscience into dualism,
> where
> >     there is assumed distinction between mind and
> body/brain?
> >
> > 3.  He goes on to write:
> >
> >     "Many people, most of whom would not regard
> themselves
> >     as dualists, think of the brain as being like
> a computer,
> >     and the mind as being like a piece of software
> that runs
> >     on that computer. But this analogy, too, is
> flawed. You
> >     do not have to do much damage to a computer to
> stop it
> >     being able to run programs. Yet as the case of
> Gage and
> >     numerous subsequent individuals has shown, the
> self can
> >     plod on, albeit changed, after quite radical
> brain damage."
> >
> >     Who are these "many people"?  Most intelligent
> people
> >     I know don't give any credence to this
> computer analogy.
> >
> > 4.  This one really perplexed me:
> >
> >     "...whisper not the word soul"
> >
> >     Your take?
> >
> >
> > Okay, finally ;-)  here's the link!
> >
> >
> >   
>
http://www.economist.com/surveys/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8407261
> >
> > I've seen the magazine itself and there are
> several short pieces
> > after this to comprise the Survey.  But this intro
> by this Economist
> > science editor (a psychologist by trade) was
> enough for me to go
> > off on.
> >
> > Thanks to any that have the time to read and
> respond!!
> > Tear me up if need be!  I just need to hear it
> from actual
> > scientists.
> > 
> > beachnut
> 
> 
=== message truncated ===

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