Re: Study shows brain can learn without really trying

From: Dace (
Date: Fri Nov 02 2001 - 20:30:24 GMT

  • Next message: Chris Taylor: "Re: Study shows brain can learn without really trying"

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    Subject: Re: Study shows brain can learn without really trying
    Date: Fri, 2 Nov 2001 12:30:24 -0800
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    > Hi everyone,
    > <The self is based in consciousness, not images. We exist because
    > apes that
    > > know they have minds-- and who surmise what's on the minds of their
    > > rivals--
    > > have a reproductive advantage.>
    > >
    > Whilst it's fair to suggest that self-awareness is adaptive, since
    > otherwise it wouldn't have emerged at all, it's not something that we
    > assume to be correct. After all, so far as we know, humans are one of
    > possible only a handful of species on the planet (and that's being
    > who have some level of self-awareness. Millions of other species, over
    > millions of years, seem to have been perfectly well adapted without
    > (apparently) a sense of self-awareness. How much edge does it really
    > especially relative to an opposable thumb, or enhanced brain power?

    It gives a competitive edge among intensely social animals like primates.
    While it does nothing for survival of the group as a whole, reflexive
    consciousness determines which members of the group are more likely to
    reproduce. It's among primates that the terrain of competition begins to
    shift from environmental to social. The successful ones are those who are
    aware of themselves as minds and not just as bodies.

    > <Since memetic transmission entails both a transmitter and a
    > receiver, a
    > > theory of memes depends on a theory of the authenticity of the self.>
    > >
    > See, this I think is where the Buddhist lot get into trouble here,
    > because their line appears to be "accept (meaning pretend) the self
    > exist, and then all the rest will fall away, and you'll be happy". To me
    > that really is delusionary. I agree with Dennett that if the self is an
    > illusion, it's a benign one.
    > A different way to think about it is the existence of cultural
    > behaviour in apparently non-self aware organisms, like Dugatkin's guppy
    > experiments. Perhaps culture has little to do with the perception of the
    > self and choice, and a lot more to do with behavioural algorithms like how

    > fish move in shoals or birds fly in flocks. I think Wade may have
    > something like this, in our earlier discussion of such things.
    > Anyway, transmission and reception of memes does not require a self,
    > only a transmitter and a receiver which are not necessarily the same thing
    > as selves.
    > Vincent

    Step 1: I write an email and hit the send button.
    Step 2: My computer transmits the email.
    Step 3: Your computer receives my email.
    Step 4: You read my email.

    Do you really think steps 1 and 4 are essentially the same as steps 2 and 3?
    Of course there's no self involved in steps 2 and 3. But these only follow
    automatically. There's nothing automatic about steps 1 and 4. The message
    would never have been created without an individual to have thought of it,
    and it can't be understood except by a person who reads it. Only when I
    write it and you read it is it a "message." Otherwise it's just blind,
    electronic impulses. Transmission of electronic impulses requires no self.
    Transmission of ideas and memes does. In fact, a meme is an idea that takes
    on its own self-existence.


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