What is "Mind?"

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Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 21, 2014 - 08:09am PT
At what threshold does the inexplicable magic emerge?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 21, 2014 - 08:38am PT
At what threshold does the inexplicable magic emerge?



"Emerge" and "created" are two very different concepts. The later implies that some person, place, thing or phenomenon was the product of "A," for example. Another view is that there are inherent qualities that need only the right environment and they naturally show up. Someone should research Boehm's Implicate Order. I saw his talk at our school but that was long ago and I have largely forgotten the drift.

JL
Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 21, 2014 - 08:53am PT
Naturally show up?

From where?

Isn't that the definition of emergence?

I'm confused.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Aug 21, 2014 - 09:33am PT
The fact is I am not at all convinced that a standard linear causal view can ever solve these threshold questions (JL)


I agree. It would have to be non-linear.

I've been ranting about this for months.

A person is an extremely complex thing. There are many systems within a person, and if you just want to carve out the brain and study that, well it is the billboard for non-linear, complex systems.

The brain is super complex. We know how many neuronal connections that are in the human brain, and then add chemical influences such as neurotransmitters, hormones, even enzymes and proteins. These all affect function and to some extent behavior.

There are so many of these non-linear systems that the idea of total determinism is bollocks. I again bring up turbulent systems, which I do have a little experience with. You can't determine the path of a single molecule passing through a turbulent system. You can understand the system quite well. That doesn't mean that you can predict the correct outcome.

I wish that we had a top notch neuroscientist here.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Aug 21, 2014 - 09:39am PT
At what threshold does the inexplicable magic emerge?

Ed posted a link to a recent paper in which a worm was taught. That worm had only a few hundred neurons or something.

I'll try to look it up and re-post it. Its implications are significant.

My guess is that intelligence and sentience are far more common in the animal kingdom than most of this crowd would like to admit.

Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 21, 2014 - 09:50am PT
The only analogy that presents a causality paradox I can see with regards to Bohm's implicit order idea is quantum entanglement.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 21, 2014 - 10:36am PT
Stuff that naturally arises was not created, so perhaps it was there all along.

For example, my friends often remind me that gravity did not slowly arise by mutation or natural selection. It was always present - "from the very beginning" as a fundamental force. But this doesn't stop our discursive minds from searching for a first or efficient cause, for some mechanical process by which gravity is seemingly produced by material - such as invisible particles ("gravitons"), that travel between objects. Cosmic strings and gravity waves have also been suggested.

JL
MH2

climber
Aug 21, 2014 - 10:50am PT
Ed and HFCS have shown us that the answer to a simple question may not be simple.



For another example: How do dragonflies intercept their prey?


Dragonflies have two eyes.

It has long been known that distances can be visually estimated by comparing images from the left and right eye. Up until 1960 it was fair to assume that the brain took information from the two eyes, used successive levels of processing to recognize objects, and then measured the difference in the location of the objects on the left and right retinas. The greater the difference the closer the object.


In 1960 Bela Julesz showed that depth perception can occur when left and right eye are shown images of seemingly random dots. In these images there are no 'objects' for 'higher level' brain processing to identify. The only difference between the two random images, in the original test, was that a small square region of one image was shifted horizontally to create the second image. When both images were viewed stereoscopically a small square appeared to float above the background.


The higher-level image-recognition parts of our brain are not essential to depth perception.


The story is not complete for the dragonfly. There are details of vision and wing motor control that are not yet known.


Sten Grillner is said to have pretty well described the lamprey, though:


http://www.neuro.ki.se/grillner/researchthemes.html


Anyone curious about free will versus determinism might be interested in Grillner's work on basal ganglia.






Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 21, 2014 - 10:55am PT
"Stuff that naturally arises was not created, so perhaps it was there all along.

For example, my friends often remind me that gravity did not slowly arise by mutation or natural selection. It was always present - "from the very beginning" as a fundamental force. But this doesn't stop our discursive minds from searching for a first or efficient cause, for some mechanical process by which gravity is seemingly produced by material - such as invisible particles ("gravitons"), that travel between objects. Cosmic strings and gravity waves have also been suggested.

JL"

I don't see how any of this violates causality, requires magic, or anything inexplicable.

Yes, our knowledge has a horizon, as mentioned before. We can't test what we can't observe. This is hardly a profound observation.

jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Aug 21, 2014 - 11:22am PT
For example, my friends often remind me that gravity did not slowly arise by mutation or natural selection (JL)

This is a curious comment, John. I would think that once told it is not something one would forget.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Aug 21, 2014 - 11:28am PT
Jan, let's read it together!

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/chapter-one

Waking Up, 1st chapter just posted on-line. I'm a pretty tough grader, so we'll see, but I AM hopeful.
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Aug 21, 2014 - 11:46am PT
That principle is the subject of this book: The feeling that we call “I” is an illusion. There is no discrete self or ego living like a Minotaur in the labyrinth of the brain. And the feeling that there is—the sense of being perched somewhere behind your eyes, looking out at a world that is separate from yourself—can be altered or entirely extinguished (Harris)

JL, PSP, MikeL and others here have advanced this thought several times.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Aug 21, 2014 - 11:47am PT
others...

You mean like all of neuroscience. Right?

ref: cartesian theater, ghost in the machine, Susan Blackmore

this thought...

Seems to me there are at least a couple "thoughts" in your quote there, each quite distinct.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 21, 2014 - 11:58am PT
For example, my friends often remind me that gravity did not slowly arise by mutation or natural selection. It was always present - "from the very beginning" as a fundamental force.

interestingly, I'd expect both Largo and MikeL to argue that since "gravity" is a concept fully developed from human thought that it did, in fact, evolve.

Our presumption (hypothesis) is that if "gravity" were what we thought it to be, that it should demonstrate the attributes of what we call a "fundamental force" which includes it's presence in the universe independent of time, and that it is everywhere the same, that it acts as it should...

all of these presumptions are testable (and tested). However, we know there is an issue with the establishment of this particular universe at the time of the "big bang" which includes setting the various constants (such as G, the Newtonian gravitational constant) and perhaps even the very nature of the early universe which we believe lead to the one we occupy.

And while gravity may not have "evolved" as life does, it's role in the universe certainly changes depending on the epoch of the universe in a significant way, changing the very nature of the universe. To the extent that we can calculate these affects, we challenge those presumptions, and our concept of "gravity" changes.

Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 21, 2014 - 12:14pm PT
Ed, I would not that in your last post you simply could not miss the opportunity to posit the time when gravity was "created," namely at the Big Bang, when the set points (grvity) of the universe we live in were established, somewhat, or perhaps "forever." What my friends are harping at me about is that maybe, just maybe, there are uncreated and unchanging factors reality that simply are, and that this being so (as a thought experiment), their existence does not violate linear causality because this stuff lies outside of time, requires no magic because it was never "created" by any agency, and is inexplicable only if your sole means of knowing the world is left-brained and linear.

And where did anyone ever say that gravity was merely a mental construct, cooked up by the mind? "Friday night," is a mental construct.

JL
PSP also PP

Trad climber
Berkeley
Aug 21, 2014 - 12:35pm PT
I barely skimmed the first chapter of Wake Up. My first impression is it is an interesting explanation of buddhist ideology and practice and maybe with Sam's reputation it may make the NYT best seller list and more of the western public will "get an idea" of what meditation really is. Rather than thinking it is Woo. But I have little faith that many will go beyond "getting the idea" and actually do the work.

The discursive hold is strong and the idea of "if I read it and think I understand then I have it" creates alot of armchair buddhists . Just an observation not really too worried about it.

I don't think many people get how physical meditation really is and thus think it is more mental and hence the arm chair affect. This wouldn't happen with a rock climbing book where everyone clearly sees how physical it is. IMO
Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 21, 2014 - 12:39pm PT
No one has claimed that meditation is woo here.

Does gravity attract if there's nothing to be attracted to?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 21, 2014 - 12:58pm PT
the greeks had concepts of gravity and levity...
opposites...

if there is gravity, there is energy, and so yes, you need no mass to be attracted to have gravity. That is the overwhelming difficulty with the theory, taming that non-linearity (self attraction). we currently do not have the mathematical "guns" to send that problem.

this is an issue since it is thought (on the basis of very good theory) that the early universe was dominated by the gravitational force, and this caused significant curvature. attempts to understand what the dimensionality of the early universe was come up against the lack of a quantum theory. that theory is needed since the curvature of the early universe was so pronounced that it was significant at the atomic (and sub-atomic) level, which is the domain of quantum mechanics.

here we see that space-time itself is something very different than what we perceive it to be today. You might have put 3D+t, i.e. space-time, into the category of "just stuff that is there" but it is actually a consequence of dynamical processes.

if the program of unification completes, then we will be talking about a single force, and it's various instantiations... including the particular universes that might be possible.

It is notable that universes able to support life have particular attributes, and the fact that we are here points to a particular universe (which we think is probably common), an interesting philosophical twist. and a connection of physical law to evolution...
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 21, 2014 - 01:15pm PT
What would a model of reality look like if we found phenomenon that were not "produced" by prior physical forces or influences? Would the existence of such phenomenon be synonomous with non-linearity?

As far as meditation goes, a westerner can rarely get a handle on what it is all about until they let go of all preconceptions per religion, woo, and all the rest. In it's most basic form, meditation is simply intense and attentive empirical investigation of mind. Forms and duality naturally fall away with enough practice as the focus involuntarily shifts from content and states, to context, or "no-mind," the "borderless land before forms."

While I laud Harris on his efforts at delving into this material, his understanding is not my own. For instance, the provisional "I" behind our eyes is a psychological creation but it has no indepenndent existence above and beyond time and cause and effect, and therefor is conditioned and temporal. IME, it is not "existinguished" as Harris says, but rather it eventually is seen for what it is - a provisional survival apperatus having little to nothing to do with our true nature - again, mistaking content for nature.

One cannot be "wrong" about this realization of emptiness because there is no content, size, shape or thing-ness to be wrong - or right - about. the discursive will try and make emptiness a thing just to say, "That's what he's talking about, and he may be wrong abou it." But verily, there is no "it," or "I," or state, or(fill in he blank) at all. That's what makes this so slippery. It confounds the discursive.

JL
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 21, 2014 - 02:46pm PT
"provisional ... having little to nothing to do with our true nature

which presumes that there is a "true nature."

this is a supposition, the supposition that such a thing exists might have larger consequences. what would those be, and can we say anything about them.
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