What is "Mind?"

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BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Aug 14, 2014 - 06:23pm PT
True that, MikeL!


Mind isn't matter.

It's matter + energy

Maybe, matter + energy + info?

Matter without energy has no form!

Energy without matter has no ability!?

Energy's formed the earth!

Energyless matter has no info!

Does energy harbor info?

Together do they expose info?

Maybe there's more to energy than we see? HeHe
Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 14, 2014 - 06:25pm PT
I'm a lot more Zen than you might think.
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Aug 14, 2014 - 09:37pm PT
Senility comes quickly enough to us oldtimers: I would rather remember that stapler is called "stapler" than be forced to pick it up and staple something while in a vacuous mental state dwindling to emptiness. It's bad enough I've been assured that "I" is not real and I'd be better off without it! This is the result of two millennia of meditative exercises?

The phenomenon of "blind sight" probably tells us something about attention and awareness. The more we learn, the more it seems we are indeed biological machines.
MH2

climber
Aug 14, 2014 - 09:48pm PT
I'm a lot more Zen than you might think. (Tvash)


I'm a lot more Fly than I might think.


"It is astonishing how much of a fly's life is spent doing nothing."

To Know a Fly
Vincent Dethier
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Aug 15, 2014 - 06:51am PT
Energyless matter has no info!

There... is... no... such... thing.

DMT
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Aug 15, 2014 - 07:30am PT
So then ; What is mind?

A mental construct of the brain and an English word of which no one can agree as to definition.

Its a phantom.

You have a brain, Sir, but the mind is your imagination.

DMT
MikeL

Social climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 15, 2014 - 11:39am PT
Jgill: The more we learn, the more it seems we are indeed biological machines.

I just had my 67th birthday yesterday, and I would say that we just get tired as we get older, and we start to operate more and more on automatic pilot. Life wears us down. The awareness dulls, excitement is less available, energy seems to diminish (how can that really happen?), and physical and mental capabilities also seem to get dialed back. After 67 years of climbing, biking, running, weight lifting and reading far far too many journal articles (thousands, now) and books, I'm of the opinion that everything is always new and yet nothing is really different.

Buddhists might call this attitude a form of equanimity: nothing is more important, critical, useful, productive than anything else. I'd add: especially when seen in the rear view mirror. All the things that I thought were really important faded like the light in a twilight sky. Rather than trying to change the world, I just find myself weaving through it these days. What shows up was meant for me, and I try to harmonize with it. No pushing, no pulling, no arguing.

I guess I should say that I've learned that "I" am tiring.


DMT: the mind is your imagination.

In a way, I'd say this is true. But which word is the offending label or problem?

"The?" "Your?" "Is?" "Imagination?" "Mind?"
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Aug 15, 2014 - 12:19pm PT



Lightbulbs are getting dim
My interests are starting to wane
I'm told it's everything a man could want
And I shouldn't complain

Conversations getting dull
There's a constant ringing in my ears
Sense of humor's void and numb
And I'm bored to tears

I'm bored to tears, yeah...
I'm bored to tears, yeah...
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Aug 15, 2014 - 01:13pm PT
In a way, I'd say this is true. But which word is the offending label or problem?

It doesn't matter. Remember?

DMT
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Aug 15, 2014 - 05:11pm PT
I'm with Cintune. Although just a part timer here, it's clear that this thread has run out of gas. For one thing, "mind" is pretty much a catch-all for several, if not dozens of subjects. I was thinking of starting another thread that focusses specifically on free will. That subject seemed to get some traction and it is one I'm struggling with. I've made one pass at Daniel Dennett's critique of Sam Harris's book on the subject and, must admit, am still reeling... "but Basil, what does it all MEAN?" On the other hand, I'm not a particularly good thread owner.
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Aug 15, 2014 - 06:12pm PT
. . . it's clear that this thread has run out of gas (eye)

It's that darn blasted JL . . . he hasn't been around much lately for us to throw darts at! He has an endless supply of energy, being a mere youth.


;>(
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Aug 15, 2014 - 07:07pm PT

I was thinking of starting another thread that focusses specifically on free will.

Sorry you can't!

Your an evolutionist, you must be "Caused" to do something. Didn't you get that from Harris? Determinism!

i think it's a bit pretentious knowing what we do of fMRI's to say that the activity going on in the brain before we answer Cheeseburger! when asked what do you want for lunch, is "determinism". You may be seeing activity, but i don't think you'll see a pic of a cheeseburger, or even the word cheeseburger. Seeing this activity prior to making the decision of a cheeseburger over taco, certainly doesn't prove thats when the decision was made.

But that's just my GOD given Free-Will talk'in!


Edit: maybe since i said you couldn't, that will be the cause you need to do it?
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Aug 15, 2014 - 07:13pm PT
I'll only do so if you promise not to post to it blue. There's clearly nothing to be learned from you. People I would look forward to hearing (more) from on the subject include Ed (duh!), jGill, MH2, cintune, HFCS, Tvash, healje, several others.

Edit: This is a passage from Daniel Dennett's critique of Sam Harris's book on free will. This is the kind of subject that I find interesting.

All this is laudable and right, and vividly presented, and Harris does a particularly good job getting readers to introspect on their own decision-making and notice that it just does not conform to the fantasies of this all too traditional understanding of how we think and act. But some of us have long recognized these points and gone on to adopt more reasonable, more empirically sound, models of decision and thought, and we think we can articulate and defend a more sophisticated model of free will that is not only consistent with neuroscience and introspection but also grounds a (modified, toned-down, non-Absolute) variety of responsibility that justifies both praise and blame, reward and punishment. We donít think this variety of free will is an illusion at all, but rather a robust feature of our psychology and a reliable part of the foundations of morality, law and society. Harris, we think, is throwing out the baby with the bathwater

Now for a Graziano take.

How the brain attributes the property of awareness to itself is, by contrast, much easier. If nothing else, it would appear to be a more limited set of computations. In my laboratory at Princeton University, we are working on a specific theory of awareness and its basis in the brain. Our theory explains both the apparent awareness that we can attribute to Kevin and the direct, first-person perspective that we have on our own experience. And the easiest way to introduce it is to travel about half a billion years back in time.

Two smart people coming at this from different perspectives but from within the confines of a "scientific" worldview. This is what makes for interesting debate. I could no more believe in religion than I could in Santa Claus. What I don't know for sure...what I actually do believe I could entirely change my mind about, is free will.
MikeL

Social climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 15, 2014 - 09:00pm PT
eeyonkee: I'm not a particularly good thread owner.

Er, . . . does one have to be?

Doesn't look like it to me.

Ask the right question or take the most piquant pose.
MikeL

Social climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 15, 2014 - 09:04pm PT
". . Our theory explains . . . .

Among so many others.

Oye, look . . . at . . . what . . . he . . . is . . . writing.
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Aug 15, 2014 - 09:13pm PT
sure thing Eokee

and we think we can articulate and defend

don't forget, EVERYTHING at this point is speculation. Your only trading your OPINION for someone else's OPINION.

Hint: if you want to get to the nitty-gritty, ask'em about objective morality, or the FACT that there cannot be free-will in Determinism.

Evolutionist know there's free-will. They also know Evolution couldn't provide it. Thats why their scurrying around like cockroaches when the light comes on trying to re-name it

Good Luck! hope ya find what ur look'in for
MH2

climber
Aug 15, 2014 - 10:09pm PT
I can't offer much on a debate I don't understand: free will versus determinism. But as a dodge around the issue I suggest taking the position that you do have free will. Then put the burden of proof on the person who argues for determinism, if there is any such person. To establish that you do not have free will the determinist would need to show that they can predict your choices. If your behavior cannot be foreseen then it makes no practical difference whether or not it is pre-determined. It would be a philosophical debate beyond resolution, and could go on making work for philosophers without troubling the rest of us.
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Aug 16, 2014 - 01:15am PT
My take as a social scientist is that human society is going to be under enough of a strain, particularly in the next hundred years until the planetary population stabilizes, that whether or not free will exists, we will have to conduct ourselves as though it does in order to survive. When faced with brain wave studies vs pictures of young children who have been beheaded, people are going to go with common sense rules that have worked over the millennia, not some scientific theory.

In fact, I think there is a real danger of the current pop interpreters of science like Dawkins and Harris, so alienating the general public, that they become even less supportive of science then they already are. Science's public image was much better served by someone like Einstein who looked and talked like an eccentric but kindly old grandfather and preserved an air of mystery about himself and science, or Carl Sagan who left the door open to a bit of mystery.

So perhaps one of the characteristics of the new technocratic society is that these experiments and discussions will go on quietly among the cogniscenti while the general public only encounters them in the form of scientifically researched advertizing, and otherwise carries on as usual, inventing new rules and new religions as needed.

Meanwhile, feel free ST cogniscenti, to carry on.


MikeL

Social climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 16, 2014 - 10:05am PT
MH2: If your behavior cannot be foreseen then it makes no practical difference whether or not it is pre-determined.

I like this statement. Thoughtful and pragmatic.

These polarities (dark vs. light, good vs. bad, high vs. low, free will vs. determinism, this vs. that) all appear to be heavy-handed interpretations. Looking closely at any of them suggests they are not quite proper or accurate descriptions of the way things are. We cannot quite say the way things are.

We need to hold categorizations and classifications loosely, realizing that we're just talking. Our words (placeholders for concepts) get reified, and then there's hell to pay for what ensues.

One thing I think the millennials seem to be sensitive to (IME), it is just that: labels and categorizations need to be taken with a fair amount of salt. They are very suspicious of institutions (and hence institutionalization).

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/17/fashion/the-millennials-are-generation-nice.html?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 16, 2014 - 10:31am PT
the "free will" discussion is not just an issue that rests in the domain of philosophy disconnected from the "business of the people."

The concept of "free will" is the foundation of our laws, and probably comes down from our religious beliefs. The very idea that we have the freedom to choose between the "right" and "wrong" decision shows up in The Bible, in Genesis, with Eve deciding to take a bite of the apple of knowledge... which God had forbidden and "the snake" had suggested.

Eve made the wrong decision and ended up getting evicted, along with Adam, from the paradise that was Eden. The original sin was having the choice to make a decision, free will, and making the wrong one.

However, our modern legal system recognizes that a class of "diseases" affect a person's ability to make a decision. We have pleas of "insanity" which are very unpopular. This plea essentially absolves the person from the idea of "free will" essentially stating that their action took place beyond their ability to decide freely.

It is interesting that we see this as a binary condition, you have free will, or you are insane, but as with much of nature, we sense that there is a continuum of states between the two. This is essentially a scientific question, not a philosophical one, and it is eminently practical, and very important.

So confronted with this I don't see Jan's desire for scientists to climb up into their Ivory tower (an interesting religious reference) and grind out their amazing, but extremely arcane science (what is General Relativity and why was Einstein concerned with a unified field theory?) of which the fruits of their theories' applications allow the masses to engage in their daily activities (I'll have to find a way to reduce this response to a "Tweet", made possible by some high energy physicists sitting in a hallway at CERN wondering how to use the interconnectivity of computers to advance their arcane research).

Our legal system already recognizes that there are actions that people undertake that are beyond the binds of "free will."

I don't see any philosophical challenges to that legal doctrine. The horse has already left the barn. The question is how our scientific understanding, as arcane as it might be, could lend insight into how this legal doctrine will evolve.

That's as down and dirty as it gets.

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