Evolution and humans: big brain size or use (Evolution)

by dhw, Thursday, May 25, 2017, 13:48 (181 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Do you believe that the complexities of the brain gave rise to our enhanced consciousness? Do you believe the complexities of the brain gave rise to advanced theoretical math? If your answer is yes, you are a materialist (which is fine). If your answer is no, then please tell us what you think did give rise to our enhanced consciousness and to advanced theoretical math.

DAVID: To repeat, I don't think an H. habilis use of consciousness was as broad or effective or complete, as H. erectus, as H. neanderthalis or finally H. sapiens. Our use of consciousness must have become more enhanced as the brain became larger and more complex. It is a receiver, but I am not implying that there are lesser and more advanced levels of consciousness. Consciousness is a single entity, one level.

“Our use" once again separates identity from consciousness, which is not possible if you believe in an afterlife that preserves your conscious self. One level? Is your consciousness on the same level as your dog’s? What happened to self-awareness? And when you call your God a universal consciousness, do you mean his consciousness is on a level with yours and your dog’s?

The nature of each individual consciousness will certainly depend on what it is conscious of (e.g. culture) – and in earthly life, that means the information collected and provided by the brain. But for a dualist, it is consciousness and not the brain that processes and “uses” the information provided. A dog’s sense of smell sends far more information to its brain than ours does, but it can’t “use” the information as we do. If you think the cause of our enhanced ability to use the information is the complexity of our brains, that’s fine, but then you are a materialist. If you think it is due to our enhanced consciousness, you are a dualist. This is highlighted by your next comment.

DAVID: The ability to use consciousness is what advances as the brain becomes more complex. You missed the point about hunter-gatherers. Cultural advancement plays a huge role. Newton and Leibniz had to invent calculus to get to where we are now in math. For the h-g's the capacity was always there. It is a matter of accumulating discoveries in thought and concepts. I am a dualist.

I agree with all of this. But in terms of “use” and “ability”, Newton, Leibniz and the hunter-gatherers may well have had the same complex providers of information and obeyers of instructions (brains), but – according to dualists and afterlifers – it is the different consciousness mind/intelligence that has the ability to use the information to create the new thoughts and concepts, which in turn contribute to the identity of the conscious mind which you believe survives the death of the brain.

This whole discussion, however, is riddled with problems which I tried to resolve some time ago by reconciling dualism and materialism. I may return to that later.

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