Re: Memes in Brains

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Thu Oct 18 2001 - 19:17:13 BST

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    Subject: Re: Memes in Brains
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    From: Robin Faichney <>
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    On Wed, Oct 17, 2001 at 08:47:26PM -0700, Dace wrote:
    > > 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.
    > 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!

    There's a very good reason for that. The closer physicists get to
    subatomic reality, the further they get from all the types of objects
    and concepts that we evolved to be able to deal with. There is no way
    that any development "down there" is going to directly affect the way
    we think about the sort of things we normally think about. And mind, in
    particular, is a high-level phenomenon about which physicists can never
    have anything useful to say, unless it concerns the limits of physics.

    > 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.

    That was very well said, Ted. I've been saying very similar things
    myself for years. I attempt to unravel that knot by postulating that
    the subjective and objective aspects of reality are of equal status.
    More at

    Robin Faichney
    "One person's mess is another's complexity"
    inside information --

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