Re: Memories etch sense of self

From: Dace (
Date: Fri Nov 30 2001 - 03:26:15 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Memories etch sense of self
    Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2001 19:26:15 -0800
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    Nice, little sci-fi piece here.

    Without a brain - those few pounds of red meat atop our spinal
    columns - thinking is impossible. The mind, and therefore the
    self, is inextricably embedded in our physical bodies.

    Without a TV, watching I Love Lucy is impossible. Is I Love Lucy inside the
    TV? This is the level of sophistication we're dealing with here.

    When a sea slug remembers, changes happen at the places where
    nerve cells touch each other, the synapses.

    This is to be expected, regardless of whether or not the brain stores
    memories. It has no explanatory power.

    Memories are stored as electrical and chemical changes at the
    synapses where cell communicates with cell.

    Evidence? I guess you don't need that when you already know.

    The biochemical approach to understanding memory has been
    wonderfully successful, but

    By successful, does the author mean the theory has never been formulated
    as a testable hypothesis and lacks any supporting evidence whatsoever?
    It's not simply that no one has documented a sort of pseudo-artificial
    information storage system in the brain but that no one has even worked out
    how to recognize it if we did find it.

    it is a long way from a sea slug to
    an 88-year-old human who can remember the words of a song
    learned more than eight decades ago.

    This is particularly disingenuous. It implies that we do understand sea slug
    memory, when in fact we have no idea how sea slug brains store memories
    and no reason to believe they do. If we did possess such understanding, it
    actually wouldn't be that far at all from understanding human memory. This is
    manipulative, and it operates unconsciously. Most likely, even the author only
    dimly realizes he's manipulating his readers. Rather than following from
    reason and consciousness, the belief is self-replicating.

    And not just a song.
    People, faces, voices, places, literature, music, telephone
    numbers, travels, likes, dislikes, loves, hurts, grandparents,
    grandchildren, birthdays, funerals, current affairs, and the
    grand pageant of human history - a vast and unique accumulation
    of memories, profound and trivial, which are a human self.

    The author is correct to equate self-nature with memory. The self spans
    time as much as space.

    The 21st century promises to be the century when we explore
    every corner of the mansions of self, and understand, at least
    in principle, how the brain gives rise to mind.

    Scientistic faith.


    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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