Re: Definition please

From: Ray Recchia (
Date: Tue Dec 11 2001 - 04:31:29 GMT

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    From: Ray Recchia <>
    Subject: Re: Definition please
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    The brain is a bit more complicated than a piano. With 100 billion neurons
    each with at least 1000 connections compared with a few thousand circuits
    in an electric piano the brain is at least a few billion times more
    complicated. If your premise is that something as simple as an electric
    piano shouldn't be capable of having a mind then I think I would agree with
    you. However, since the brain is a few billion times more complicated I
    would place little value on your analogy.

    Personally, the thing that I have always had trouble with is how a
    sophisticated organ like the brain has so much trouble adding two three
    digit numbers together. I wonder more at how consciousness can be so
    simple and slow when the brain appears to capable of so much more.

    Joe Dees argues that in fact consciousness does arise because of increased
    complexity. He has offered a hypothesis that humans are distinct from
    other animals because our brains have reached a certain level of complexity
    which results in consciousness. He points out that only humans and a few
    primates are capable of recognizing their own faces in a mirror as
    evidence of self-consciousness. Personally, I don't think the mirror test
    he points to really is an indicator of something as sophisticated as
    consciousness. I think it points towards a specialized ability to
    recognize external visual representations which humans are better at. The
    model test is the better analogy. No primate other than a human is capable
    of recognizing that a miniaturized model of a room and the placement of
    objects in it correlates to a real room. Some primates are capable of
    making the leap with their own faces because facial recognition is so
    important in primate society.

    I really do not know what creates a consciousness or understand what does
    and does not have one. Unlike you though, I am sufficiently impressed with
    the known physical world to accept that a consciousness can arise without
    resort to a new law of physics.

    As I have said before though in the study of memes we should concern
    ourselves with the existence of a non-genetic evolutionary system. There
    is nothing about evolution that requires consciousness. Our studies should
    focus on transmission, variation, and selection of memes. The study of
    consciousness is peripherally related at best and should be left to
    cognitive scientists. While this field should certainly take note when a
    consensus answer is arrived at, memetics will not be the place where that
    consensus is found

    Ray Recchia

    At 04:46 PM 12/10/2001 -0800, you wrote:
    >From: William Benzon
    > > > The problem is that you can't demonstrate why, if a brain is accompanied
    > > > by a mind, an electric piano wouldn't have one as well.
    > > >
    > > > Where do you draw the line? After all, an electric piano has a kind of
    > > > nervous system. It has input and output.
    > >
    > > It has no kind of nervous system whatever.
    >Of course it does. Anything that links input to output is a kind of nervous
    >system, regardless of how primitive. Besides, your definition of mind is so
    >broad it would include any system that functions as a whole-- biological or
    >technological, nervous system or not.
    >If the mind is the functioning of the entire nervous system, why wouldn't the
    >global operation of any complex object constitute a mind? What is it that's
    >unique about a brain that associates it with mentality?

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