What is "Mind?"

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TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Aug 29, 2011 - 09:04am PT
Newton had to create a new math to describe the world as it was.

Got your point, but Leibniz was coming up with the same mathematical ideas simultaneously and independently and Hooke had already come up with the law of gravitation.

The famous "I have stood on the shoulders of giants" was probably really an insult directed at Hooke. He was a short little dude with a crooked nose. Newton didn't want to share the credit.

Keynes was completely in error when it came to economic theory, but there's one quote of his I really like, (he owned the largest private collection of Newton's work)

Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians,

The work of any philosopher needs to be examined in the context of their age.

http://www.gap-system.org/~history/Extras/Keynes_Newton.html
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Laramie
Aug 29, 2011 - 09:31am PT
Sensing environment conditions and responding was the task of early neurological mechanisms. The tangle comes from when neurological mechanisms began sensing neurological states. The tingle comes because many neurological states send faint signals to the body parts which causes other states to arise. For some this experience is called "subjective". But our parallel processors do their looping and with words some make knowing thy self much more complicated than it is. Knowing how this happens is all about attention.
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Aug 29, 2011 - 10:21am PT
in search of mind: essays in autobiography by jerome bruner--interesting memoir of a research psychologist.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 29, 2011 - 10:47am PT
I do not accept the notion that consciousness is outside of reality and is therefore unavailable to rigorous scientific study.

DMT

survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Aug 29, 2011 - 11:31am PT
Since a strict computational model can be summarily ruled out, and a “brain is consciousness” model is insisting that an apple is an orange, and religious explanations are equally unsatisfactory, one wonders what direction is needed to wrestle this one down.

There is no wrestling this one down. Some need it to be science, some need it to be God.

As a good friend said:
"Waaaay too many people thinking that we're more special or "entitled" than other life on Earth."


All minds will check out in their biological time.

One thing's for sure, your mind may get a little extension from healthy living or medical advances, but no mind gets to carry on permanently from being a high thinker.

We need to get over ourselves and start respecting the planet or there will come an end to all "mind".
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 29, 2011 - 11:39am PT
Largo writes:
//Scientism ~ the belief that the methods of measuring, or the categories and things described through measuring, form the only real and legitimate elements in any philosophical or other inquiry, and that science alone describes the world as it is in itself, independent of perspective, with a concomitant elimination of the psychological dimensions of experience.
//


I don't know about scientism, I am a scientist, I know what troublesome issues arise when subjectivity is injected into scientific investigations.

It is no doubt troublesome when the scientific investigation is about "subjectivity" itself.

As for philosophy, I see it more like sport team affiliation, you route for the "home team" and perhaps have warm feelings for those "home teams" of your past... and you might jeer the evil "away team." The consequence of all this routing is rather nill in the whole of it, in my view.

I take the word scientism as a way of making science a "philosophy" and therefore open to the various bickerings of philosophers. But while science may be interpretable as a philosophy, it has a privileged position of other philosophies, and that is the primacy of empirical verification.

While this greatly limits the extent of philosophical questions which may be presented to "science" it is the absolute arbiter of scientific dispute. It doesn't matter how pretty or how logical or how mighty you proposed theory is if it fails empirical verification.

The role of theory is also important, for without it there would be nothing to verify. Ordering phenomena, organizing them and describing them and then predicting what will happen are all necessary in order to obtain scientific understanding. Theories with no ability to make predictions that can be subject to empirical verification are by and large useless to science. We might use various polite words for this, but "bullshit" hits the mark rather well. Many would posit that theories like "string theory" are "bullshit" because they are incapable of predicting something testable. You can read books on this...

My position regarding empirical verification has been met by Largo with a great deal of chiding and a healthy dose of intellectual bullying, perhaps because my view is at such variance with his, and we have both been at this for decades, "this" being our views on consciousness. He can't believe I believe that all there is to life is the dry stuff of equations and lab experiments. His experience tells him otherwise.

First and foremost, an education in science teaches us how to ask a scientific question. The point being that if you cannot frame a curiosity in a way which is accessible to the scientific method the chances you will obtain a scientific answer vanishes. My realization with discussing this subject with Largo is that he is not asking a scientific question. And so another thread would be more appropriate with the title "The Science of Mind" which would be quite different than Largo's "What Is Mind?" Though I hesitate to suggest such a thing... (although I guess I just did).

Now having violated Gill's aesthetic for short posts, I will end by bringing up an example experience from climbing; regarding what we experience.

I have hypothesized on other threads that we actually know what each other is thinking only through our ability to communicate. I can expand on this, but one objection to the scientific study of "mind" is that it does not consider the "subjective experience." Behaviorism as a biological discipline studies behavior (obviously) but is not privy to the "inner thoughts" of those individuals behaving.

As I sit on a ledge in the Valley, enjoying the beautiful views, I become aware of the distinct smell of formic acid, and my experience immediately tells me I've pissed off the local natives, the ants that live around the tree. They are attacking me, collectively, with the weapons that they have. I know if I don't do something, they'll start biting too, and this is all very unpleasant. I can go on and on about the science of this...

...but let me do a Largo and ask, "what are the ants thinking? how are they experiencing this? what is their subjective response?" and how would I know?




cliffhanger

Trad climber
California
Aug 29, 2011 - 11:48am PT
Tantra Yoga technique 75 to learn the true nature of consciousness:

"If you can carry this image of flame and light through the doors of sleep, you will never sleep again, only the body will rest. And while the body is sleeping, you will know it. Once this happens, you have become the fourth. Now the waking and the dreaming and the sleeping are parts of the mind. They are parts, and you have become the fourth -- one who goes through all of them and is none of them."

http://www.meditationiseasy.com/mCorner/techniques/Vigyan_bhairav_tantra/75.php

Technique 76 is excellent also.

Index:

http://www.meditationiseasy.com/mCorner/techniques/Vigyan_bhairav_tantra/Meditation_techniques_index.htm

rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:11pm PT
What is "Mind?"

IMHO... It is our consciousness (direct and sub), our awareness. It is something that evolves and changes... Think of an infant, toddler, adult, or later, people with alzheimers, as all have different degrees of consciousness and/or awareness. Even physical trauma of the brain can have an effect on it, as does psychological trauma, or drugs.

Most, take it for granted, some, explore it and become well versed or even expert at different aspects of it (I.e., higher consciousness/awareness). Just like an dedicated and well trained athlete can do things far above that of normal people. No different.

We can all recognize different levels of awareness in other animals, if we look in our pets, as each is unique in its "personality", and this is even present in other animals (E.g., dolphin, elephant)


So, IMHO, it is a physical thing, that we don't fully understand, but that doesn't mean there is anything nonphysical about it... Just that we don't fully understand it.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:28pm PT
When the "hard issues" of consciousness don't square with our particular discipline, we end up with simplistic quips like "brain output," which neither addresses or perhaps doesn't even recognize that the computational model of consciousness is a bust for a dozen reasons.

Seems you do a fair amount of dismissing of ideas yourself Largo.
Fish Finder

Social climber
THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:33pm PT





My Mind is Made Up.
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:40pm PT
Consciousness is the greatest mystery it seems. I've never heard a good explanation but many great questions.

My own questioning has never yielded satisfying results.

Observations.

I seem to only be me. A consciousness very closely associated with with a physical counterpart my body.

I seem to be located in a area best described as most concentrated a couple inches behind my eyes with definite but varying degrees of direct awareness throughout my body.

I only experience the universe NOW. All memories are simply records they don't seem to truly exist as anything other than imperfect records. They are no more tangible than my imaginations.

Based on observation it seems that other people have a basically similar experience and are other "Mes"
-----------


I can fiddle around with my mental state via thinking about it or physically manipulating it. Intentionally or unintentionally. But only to a very limited degree that does not escape the bounds described above.

Except one notable experience with a spinal block...really really fascinating experience with temporary paraplegia.
--------


Beyond this i know nothing really. But have to ask why these limits are in my experience unbreakable?

Are they? if so why? How am I in existence.. conscious that is..

no answer that i have ever heard and i have never heard any honest person who really claims to know.

----------


Castenada and various other mystics claim to have broken the limits I have described but never seem able to explain how in a way I have been able to duplicate and even they don't seem to know what it is either.

---


Rambling thoughts


jstan

climber
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:44pm PT
It would be interesting were there a thread entitled, as Ed suggests, ""The Science of Mind". We have professionals expert in this area. I am not one but spurred by John's philosophical leanings quite some time ago I posed an observational definition/description of conscious processes. No one has so far proposed something better, I think.

Early on in school when I first encountered philosophical texts, especially those of the last 2000 years, my impressions jibed very closely with what Ed had the courage to describe. John's efforts did get me to thinking about these processes in real terms, for which I would like to thank him.

Indeed, proceeding under the assumption that ADHD is a malfunction associated with difficulty keeping a line of processing from slipping into subconscious levels I wonder if there might be a line of useful research. The interface between conscious and subconscious has to be something of great interest, neurologically. MRI papers imply that you can get data, albeit poorly averaged, out on 50ms centers. (Possibly even the probe frequency itself could be better selected to sense the processes of interest.) If that is true one could get noise data on local neural processes. That would be interesting because when a process is on the verge of substantial change,i.e. slipping into chaos, you get high levels of what is called "one over f noise." There the spectral power density varies as the inverse of the frequency. A friend is convinced Navier Stokes solutions are required for a better understanding of this phenomenon, so if anyone likes to work this problem, they might take a look at it. Far too nasty for me.

At any rate were all this to be doable, patients suffering from this disorder might benefit from a probe locating the onset in both space and time within the brain. Just being able to quantify the defect would be a huge step forward, I think in its study.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:50pm PT
"First thing we do, let's kill all the scientists."

Why does this seem to be the first tenet of religious demagoguery? It seems consistent across cultures and various religious pursuits. Meet the new boss, he's the same as the old boss.

Since the specifics of science, the proofs if you will, have proven largely unassailable, it makes sense to instead turn the focus to the scientists themselves or even better their very schools of thought.

But for me? When some 'nutricutical' shuckster comes on the TV telling me that medical science is corrupt and I only need buy their snake oil to achieve bliss, or some politico tells me climate scientists 'are only in it for the bucks' (lol lol lol) or some religious dude toting a bag O supposition tells me that modern science will never discern the truth?

I don't buy it. If first we must kill the scientists? I'll pass on this sort of philosophy. Thanks though!

DMT
cintune

climber
Midvale School for the Gifted
Aug 29, 2011 - 01:11pm PT
hooblie

climber
from where the anecdotes roam
Aug 29, 2011 - 01:19pm PT
absurd leap of an audacious presumption that i know anything about this:

mind is a constantly churning mechanism that drives a little needle, a needle which swings within the realm of approach/avoid in an effort to achieve the ever elusive satisfied ... "mind"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59EImIpI3YI
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Aug 29, 2011 - 02:00pm PT
When we ask "What is" something, we are looking for an answer in terms of more fundamental properties. Some examples from different fields:
Inflation is too much money chasing too few goods.
Gravity is a force between all bits of matter. There is an equation for the strength of the force.
Heat is vibration of molecules. The complete absence of heat at absolute zero is matter with no vibration.

Here is an interesting conjecture on the question of "What is Mind (or consciousness)". I would like to say that I thought this up, but it is from Teilhard de Chardin. Chardin was a Jesuit and a Paleontologist.

Consciousness is a fundamental property of matter, like mass or charge. It only manifests itself in structures of considerable complexity, i.e. brains. Evolution is development of more elaborate brains and concomitant higher consciousness.

Is this a scientific assertion? Can it be tested? I am not sure, but one corrollary is that if true, life should be common in the uniferse. Perhaps it is possible to have a measure of the complexity of different brains, amoebae, Ed's ants, dogs, humans etc, measures of their consciousness and check the correlation. Maybe we could look for some very elementary tropisms in material we think to be inanimate and see if we can measure possibly very tiny responses to stimuli.
Fish Finder

Social climber
THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART
Aug 29, 2011 - 02:20pm PT




Mind Matters ?
cintune

climber
Midvale School for the Gifted
Aug 29, 2011 - 02:41pm PT
There’s a part of your brain devoted entirely to recognizing animals
Biologically speaking, humans are pretty much just another animal, and it's actually hard to come up with any clear explanation for what sets us apart. But we have a hard time accepting this ... and the reason we're in denial about our animal status may be hardwired into our brains.
It seems as though we humans really should be exceptional somehow, but so many of the things that make us unique — complex societies, tool use, even language and self-awareness — can be found to one degree or another in other species as well. But it's hard to shake the notion that we're special somehow, and that's not exactly surprising. Partially that's because so much of the history of human philosophy has been spent conceptualizing ourselves as fundamentally different from all other life — for a quick example of that, check out the Great Chain of Being.

The roots of human exceptionalism might go even deeper than that, right down to some of the deepest functions of our brains. That's the finding of researchers from Caltech, who asked 41 epilepsy patients to look at 100 different images of animals, people, objects, and landmarks. Because the patients were about to undergo surgery, they'd had electrodes implanted in their brains, allowing the researchers to monitor the neural responses to the different images precisely.

The researchers studied the activity of nearly 1,500 different neurons, and one area of the brain in particular stuck out: the right amygdala. Some of the neurons in that section of the amygdala — the part of the brain that process emotional reaction — responded specifically to pictures of animals, and nothing else. Crucially, these neurons did not fire when photos of humans were shown, regardless of whether the photo was of a famous celebrity or a random stranger. It also didn't matter from what angle or distance the photos were taken.

Even more intriguingly, the neurons showed no preference for which animals were displayed. They didn't fire more strongly in response to, say, a potential predator or a cute lolcat. That suggests this neural response isn't a specific evolutionary response to possible threats - it's more basic than that. If anything, it suggests that we're hard-wired to respond to the presence of animals, any animals...as long as they're not humans.

So then, if you're still looking for a way to distinguish humans from all other animals, we now have a straightforward definition: humans are the only species that doesn't register a response in certain neurons of the right amygdala of the human brain. It doesn't have quite the same ring to it as "we're the only truly intelligent species" or something like that, but it does have the added value of actually meaning something concrete.

http://io9.com/5835391/our-brains-dont-consider-us-to-be-animals
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 29, 2011 - 02:54pm PT
Consciousness is a fundamental property of matter, like mass or charge. It only manifests itself in structures of considerable complexity, i.e. brains. Evolution is development of more elaborate brains and concomitant higher consciousness.

This is the 'ghost-in-the-machine' argument of a universal consciousness 'inhabiting' organisms, each to whatever limits it can sustain. In turn, I suppose it could be extrapolated to accommodate issues around debilitation, disease, and other forms of brain and cognitive dysfunction. Some of the questions raised by this approach, though, revolve around exactly how consciousness 'finds' and 'inhabits' or brains and how a universal consciousness differentiates into individual consciousness.

I would also think if one ascribed to this line of reasoning it would be relatively difficult to support any notions of the survival of a uniquely identifiable 'mind' after death - arrives with the wind, departs with the wind.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 29, 2011 - 02:58pm PT
Consciousness is a fundamental property of matter, like mass or charge. It only manifests itself in structures of considerable complexity, i.e. brains. Evolution is development of more elaborate brains and concomitant higher consciousness.

Is this a scientific assertion? Can it be tested? I am not sure, but one corrollary is that if true, life should be common in the uniferse. Perhaps it is possible to have a measure of the complexity of different brains, amoebae, Ed's ants, dogs, humans etc, measures of their consciousness and check the correlation. Maybe we could look for some very elementary tropisms in material we think to be inanimate and see if we can measure possibly very tiny responses to stimuli.

If consciousness is a fundamental property of matter, like mass or charge, why is life even required, much less common? Wouldn't a rock or a breath of air also have some minute component of consciousness? They also have mass and charge, which not ironically can be measured.....

DMT

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