Re: Memes in Brains

From: Dace (
Date: Thu Oct 18 2001 - 04:47:26 BST

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    Subject: Re: Memes in Brains
    Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 20:47:26 -0700
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    > On 10/16/01 01:07, Dace said this-
    > >As Chomsky says, in his essay, "Language and Nature," our common sense
    > >notions of matter began caving in way back in the 17th century.
    > And good thing, too, as common sense has little, if anything, to do with
    > it.
    > But, making the leap from that to this -
    > "there is no mind-body problem, no question about reduction of the
    > mental to the physical, or even unification of the two domains."
    > - seems to rocket across an abyss with specious ease, if not be somewhat
    > non sequitur, since reducing the mind-body problem to new and more
    > correct views of matter would seem to unify the domains handily.
    > - Wade

    This is scientistic faith. For three hundred years, every time we get a
    "new and better" concept of matter, its true nature becomes that much more
    perplexing and ineffable. Yet we're supposed to have the whole mystery
    cleared up any day now! I'm not saying faith is necessarily bad, but it's
    always somewhat repelling when it's blind.

    Chomsky isn't denying that the terms "mind" and "matter" refer to real
    things. He's just pointing out that we don't understand what these things
    are, the second term being no more clear than the first, and couldn't
    possibly reduce one to the other or describe how they relate. It's absurd
    to think that the two "domains," so perfectly at odds with each other, could
    somehow interact. Clearly, there's nothing mental about gray matter and
    nothing neuronal about experience. But it's equally clear that mind and
    brain are seemlessly entwined. How could that be?

    Perhaps they don't "relate" for the simple reason that a thing can't relate
    to itself.

    On three points we can be certain:

    1. Matter is in some way real
    2. Mind is in some way real
    3. Matter and mind are in some way the same thing

    Philosophy has tended to get beached on one or the other perspective.
    Either the coin always comes up heads (and all we see are brains) or it
    always comes up tails (the realm of mind and Idea). The mistake is to
    define the coin by one or the other of its sides and then try to reduce the
    other side to that one. The solution to the mind-body problem is to get
    past heads and tails and find the coin's true weight. Only when the
    question is formulated this way can we unravel the Chomskyan knot.


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