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Ch. 14: Mind Speculations 
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Post Ch. 14: Mind Speculations
Ch. 14: Mind Speculations

Please use this thread for discussing Ch. 14: Mind Speculations. :hmm:



Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:26 pm
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What Burton has to say in this chapter feels like quite a revelation, to me anyway. He's at the point in his argument where he can take a few of the oldest, toughest problems in philosophy or science and tell us, more or less, that they never can be solved. We cannot escape from limitations imposed by the very structure of our brains. We do not know if the dilemmas themselves are nothing but a reflection of our own brain physiology.

Concerning the origin and nature of the cosmos, he says, "Hypotheses ranging from a grand creator to intelligent design to a no-boundary universe are the inevitable result of believing in answers even when the questions themselves reflect nothing more than quirks of brain physiology."

The mind/body or dualism question arises from the necessity for our
selves to feel as though they are independent from our brains/bodies. It is highly probable, he states, that our brain indeed creates this sense of a self, but we simply don't feel it that way. We could not even have a self unless we experienced a separation from our bodies.
"Trapped within our biology, we cannot escape the mind/body dualism"--that is, the feeling of it.

About free will, he thinks that whether it exists or not depends on what exactly choice looks like as a brain function. "What are the brain control mechanisms that determine when the feeling [of choice] is present along with a cognitive choice?" If our unconscious mind makes choices for us sometimes, and if the free will concept depends on our conscious ability to make choices, "then your unconscious will have made a choice that you don't consider a choice."
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Mon Sep 29, 2008 6:54 pm
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This chapter was well written and well thought out. Burton's worldview, is presented in the chapter, was rather similar to my own.

While the mind physically consists of a bunch of meat, that's not how people view themselves when they go about their daily lives. The human mind has many inherent limitations, and it's model of the world is intrinsically oversimplified and distorted. That oversimplification and distortion applies just as strongly to people's perception of their own mental processes.

FYI, I hadn't heard about pain in the left arm indicating a heart attack. Is that general knowledge?



Fri Nov 07, 2008 1:59 am
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DWill wrote:


The mind/body or dualism question arises from the necessity for our
selves to feel as though they are independent from our brains/bodies. It is highly probable, he states, that our brain indeed creates this sense of a self, but we simply don't feel it that way. We could not even have a self unless we experienced a separation from our bodies.
"Trapped within our biology, we cannot escape the mind/body dualism"--that is, the feeling of it.


But why? Burton does not explain this and I can't figure out why he feels this is so.


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Fri Mar 27, 2009 9:55 pm
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Saffron wrote:
DWill wrote:


The mind/body or dualism question arises from the necessity for our
selves to feel as though they are independent from our brains/bodies. It is highly probable, he states, that our brain indeed creates this sense of a self, but we simply don't feel it that way. We could not even have a self unless we experienced a separation from our bodies.
"Trapped within our biology, we cannot escape the mind/body dualism"--that is, the feeling of it.


But why? Burton does not explain this and I can't figure out why he feels this is so.

I think that "mind/body" dualism can be a confusing phrasing, because it seems to refer to our being aware that we have bodies, that each of us is a non-physical self plus a physical body. To be aware of this entails separation--but not necessarily in the sense of estrangement from the body (if this might be partly how you're interpreting "separation"). So I don't see much that is surprising or controversial in "mind/body" dualism. When we use "mind/brain" dualism instead, that gets us to the still contentious matter of whether our minds are nothing but a product of our brains' neurochemistry ("the mind is what the brain does"), or whether there is some ineffable, non-physical dimension to mind. This is basically the same problem as the religious one of whether a soul exists, some non-corporeal aspect of us.

I think it's best, whenever we see "mind/body dualism," to translate this to "mind/brain dualism." Then the problem is clearer. So what do you believe? Is there anything non-physical about our minds? Is there is a dualism?


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Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:35 am
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DWill wrote:

So what do you believe? Is there anything non-physical about our minds? Is there is a dualism?


Well, I'm not sure exactly. I have felt that if the mind exists in someway separate from the brain or body than that is what soul is. I feel less sure of having a soul all the time. I definitely feel that I am a self, but the older I get the more I feel that myself and my body are the same. When I think of it, this is how I remember feeling as a child -- all of me, toes, knees, belly, nose and hair -- all me, inseparable from the thinking.

There is an interesting book by Candace Pert, Ph.D. called Molecules of Emotion: The science behind mind-body medicine. She is a bit crazy, but the book was terrific. It's been quite awhile since I read it. Pert contends that emotions come from all over our bodies. the title captures it -- the molecules that are the start point for emotions are all over our bodies. Thinking and emotion are intimately linked, therefore one of Pert's ideas is that the whole body is involved in what we normal associate as happening in the brain. I think I got this right -- now I need to go back to the book, see if I'm off in my remembering.


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Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:47 am
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I now see that my reply was somewhat of a tangent. You might have been asking how it is that our sense of self, and therefore separation, arises in the first place. This is a prime question in the whole concsiousness debate. I don't think anyone has any clear or supported idea on how this occurs.

But it's interesting that the mind/body (body as in fingers, toes, etc.) question does have some traction after all.


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Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:18 am
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