Re: MD A bit of reasoning

From: Jim Ledbury (
Date: Sun Oct 17 2004 - 14:00:17 BST

  • Next message: Wim Nusselder: "Re: MD On Faith"

    Hi all,

    Mark Steven Heyman wrote:


    msh comments:

    >I think a nuerobiologist would say that a human brain and nervous
    >system is considerably more than a mass of "little things" out of
    >spatial and temporal contact with one another, or with the outside
    >world. Jim might want to correct me on this, but my impression is
    >that science regards the brain as an incredibly complex system of
    >billions of nuerons and synapses that have evolved over billions of
    >years to work together to provide, so far, unmatched parallel
    >processing power.

    :-) I don't think I need to 'correct' you on that - it sounds just
    right! The operation of the brain is indeed fascinating and there are
    so many things to discover. But one thing that has been uncovered is
    that there is a lot of sense data processing (abstraction) before we get
    to what we can safely call consciousness. I think it safe to say that
    'we' are not aware of anything directly in the outside world, just the
    movie being played by our brains: if you don't accept this then I think
    you have a hard time explaining things like synaesthesia and the poor
    guy who could make an emotional connection his mother on the phone but
    visually could make no connection so felt that she was a doppleganger
    every time he met her (see Ramachandran's Reith Lectures 2003 to know
    what I'm on about). This movie project apparatus has a lot of fine
    tuning by evolution since the first sense feedback systems evolved
    however many hundreds of millions of years ago. Before that it was the
    cells doing it for themselves, which is essentially a lot of molecules
    and feedback loops reacting to the actual physical stimulae (I call it
    dynamic quality interpreted at the physical level - although I know many
    here will disagree with this interpretation). Which is why I have no
    problem with a materialist conception of consciousness. But then I
    think that molecules and subatomic particles are actually making small
    low-level perceptions as they explore their environment - call it a
    non-materialist conception of matter if you will - as I've said
    elsewhere, I think that the problem people have with a materialist
    conception of consciousness is that we continually underestimate the
    quality sense of matter itself. Precisely how it all links together to
    produce what we perceive is still a mystery.


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