Re: ality

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sun Feb 24 2002 - 01:04:30 GMT

  • Next message: Steve Drew: "Re: mind"

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    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: Re: ality
    Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 20:04:30 -0500
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    >From: "Dace" <>
    >To: <>
    >Subject: Re: ality
    >Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 22:04:10 -0800
    > > >Thoughts are not reducible to neurons (and their synaptic connections).
    > > >Thinking involves representation, which is not a physical or chemical
    > > >property.
    > > >
    > > Thinking has a physical or chemical basis. Thinking costs calories and
    > > involves electrochemical events and flow of neurotransmitters. Thoughts
    > > are reducible in principle to neurophysiology of neurons and their
    > > synaptic connections, not parapsychological phenomena. I've wasted too
    > > much precious ATP trying to bring this point across to you. My
    > > sodium/potassium pumps are working overtime.
    >You're wasting ATP trying to explain something to me I've understood since
    >the age of eight.
    You were a quite precocious youngster.
    >Yes, thinking has a physical basis, and neurotransmission
    >has a mental basis.
    Ummm..., thinking has a physical basis and "mentality" has a neurochemical
    >Two sides of the same coin.
    Is that some sort of neutral monism where spirit and matter inhere as one?
    Brain is the coin composed of metal atoms (neurons) and whatever you're
    thinking of as "mind" is merely the face stamped on the coin (some
    president). It's the way the metal atoms are organized whereby some sort of
    pattern emerges. We won't get into the wear and tarnishing part.
    >Any attempt to reduce one
    >side to the other is covert dualism. No one is suggesting that thoughts
    >based on "parapsychological phenomena."
    But you would suggest we read Sheldrake's books for edification, would you
    >The basis of the mind is itself.
    >The mind is the self-existence of the brain, while the brain is the
    >existence of the mind.
    > > >That which represents the world cannot simultaneously be part of
    > > >the world represented. To ascribe representation to the brain is to
    > > >endow it with a magical property possessed by no other object, living
    > > >dead. You're setting the brain apart, i.e. sacralizing it. This is
    > > >religion.
    > > >
    > > >
    > > >
    > > I've got a bunch of pictures (momentos) in photo albums which are
    > > representations of the world and which, when developed became as
    > > much a part of this world as the scenes they represent.
    >The pictures consist of arrangements of chemicals. "Representation" is not
    >among them. It doesn't become a representation except in your mind as you
    >view it. Not the brain, mind you.
    > Representation requires a body of
    >understanding built up over a period of time. The mind can comprehend and
    >re-present because it embraces precisely the amount of time spanned by its
    >memory. The brain, as the spatiomaterial surface of the mind, lacks the
    >temporal depth required for memory and knowledge.
    So if I'm reading you right, mind is temporal (and spiritual?) and brain is
    spatial(material)? How would one account for the development of the brain
    during fetal development, with antecedent processes like neurulation? The
    brain is the product of physical changes over time with an epigenetic basis.
    The brain itself still undergoes changes. Changes involve time, a temporal
    aspect. Brain is temporal. Brain is spatiotemporal, having three dimensions,
    the x, y, and z axes and having developed over time (the 4th dimension). As
    a result of senescence, our selectional natural history getting us to an
    average reproductive age over the millenia, the brain will undergo
    deteriorative changes with advancing age.

    Evolution has a temporal aspect (as heritable changes, including those
    associated with brain evolution, over time). Development has a temporal
    component (as morphological changes over the course of an organism's life).
    The brain has evolved and the brain develops in each individual. The brain
    changes over time in more ways than one. The brain has a temporal aspect. I
    can say this without even referring to "mind".

    Some changes in the brain, in the synaptic connections between its neurons
    gives rise to memory and thought and the accumulation of knowldge via
    learning. That's what the brain does.

    > > Set up a videocamera with a monitor. The image on the monitor screen
    > > represents the region of the world the camera is aimed at. The original
    > > and its not quite perfect representation co-exist within the same world
    > > (slight time delays notwithstanding). This is all quite material and
    > > mechanistic.
    >Right. That's the problem. Chemistry and physics make no mention of
    >thought and mind.
    A sophisticated non-amimistic/non-vitalistic aproach to thought and mind
    should mention chemistry and physical principles (like basic
    > > There's no ghost in the camera machine.
    >Nor is there one in the brain.
    Then what, pray tell is wrong with a physical approach to understanding
    memory and thought. Sure beats a *meta*physical approach.
    >Nor would the brain have any use for one.
    >There's nothing separable from the brain which is then deposited into it.
    >But the brain is alive and therefore informed by its past. That is to say,
    >what's brain from one point of view (space) is mind from another (time).
    Your dichotomy of spatial brain and temporal mind perplexes me :-/
    > > I can draw a picture of a flower on paper. The flower and its
    > > representation on paper (with limitations due to my lousy artistic
    > > co-exist within the same world.
    >Did you draw a picture of a flower, or did you leave bits of crayon stuck
    >a piece of baked woodpulp?
    Both. Why are you putting a crayon in my hand?
    >Let's be hard core here, shall we? We're all so
    >modern and rational and scientific, so let's really mean it for once. Oh,
    >it may sound harsh that your pretty little "flower" doesn't physically
    >exist, but if the mind is unreal, so is the flower.
    The flower I hypothetically drew (with pencil not crayon) physically exists
    as a part of a plant which carries genes in its DNA which resulted from
    evolution. It belongs to a species related more closely to other species
    within its family (say Asteraceae) than it is related to me. At some level
    it is just pigments and plant materials, but its shape and features were
    honed by selection. Using my brain, itself composed of animal materials at
    some level, which resulted from long-term selection in primate phylogeny and
    a developmental process over my lifetime, I thought deeply about how I would
    draw that flower. I remembered (a neural process) how to hold and move the
    pencil and made an imperfect representation of what the flower looked like
    to me (probably different than it would look like to an insect who see a
    different part of the electromagentic spectrum than I do).

    I could have decided to draw a flower without looking at one for a model. In
    this case I would be reling upon a neurally represented storehouse of
    whatever flowers I've seen in my experience which could be cued at the time
    and maybe I'd base my drawing on an average representation (an archetype if
    you will) and from this composed the imperfect ectype on baked wood pulp
    with graphite smudges which would be scarcely recognizable under a
    reasonable magnification of a dissecting microscope.

    Better yet lets use an example based on a photocopying machine. I take a
    picture of a daisy. I photocopy this picture. Now I put the picture and the
    photocopy on the same table as the daisy itself. The daisy, its pictorial
    representation, and the photocopy of this co-exist in the same world. My
    memories of this whole process would likewise co-exist with the daisy, the
    picture and the photocopy. How's that?
    >Give it up. Give up
    >beauty-- anything that's hopeful and inspiring. We're trashing it, folks.
    >It's all over. We're sophisticated now. It's got to be tangible or it's
    >nothing, and the only thing *tangible* here is pigments on paper. We don't
    >go in for humanistic whining bullshit anymore. Leave that for the pansies.

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