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

by dhw, Wednesday, June 07, 2017, 14:11 (166 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID (under “before or after?”): Now we have our pre-sapiens conceptualizing their need for bigger brains so they can handle their lives a little better, or better than that a lot better. Bigger skull, bigger frontal lobe, please, and then mirabile dictu it appears!

No, no, no, no! The expansion is the result of mental exercise, just as muscle expansion is the result of physical exercise. Pre-sapiens conceptualized the spear, and this required new skills which could only be implemented by an addition to the brain (expansion). You drew attention to the following: “A study of illiterate 30-year-old Indian women has shown they can learn to read quickly and the brain rewires itself in the process….” The women said: “I want to read,” not: “I want to rewire my brain.” The “concept” was reading, and in implementing the concept, they changed the structure of the brain. Concept first, rewiring second. I am proposing that the same process resulted in the expansion of the brain, as in the spear example, with someone thinking: “I want to make a weapon,” not: “I want to enlarge my brain.” And when the brain had reached its maximum size, rewiring/complexification/ densification was the new way forward. (NB as usual, this does not in any way exclude your God, who may have designed the whole process.)

dhw: You could hardly make it clearer that you believe the (expanded) brain was the source of (expanded) consciousness. It may well have been. Congratulations on your decisive embrace of materialism. Unfortunately, this totally contradicts your other belief that consciousness is an entity separate from the brain and the body, comes from God (not from the brain, which is only a receiver), and returns to God complete with your identity once the brain and body are dead.
DAVID: You have continued to completely misunderstand my theory. A larger brain as a receiver developed an expanded use of the consciousness mechanism (immaterial) because of its size and increased complexity. A smaller earlier brain could only use a smaller amount of consciousness.

We are both wrestling with something immensely complex, and we are only dealing with one side of the materialism versus dualism debate! The basic question here is: do you believe the brain uses you/your consciousness, or do you/your consciousness use the brain? “You”, according to your beliefs, are your consciousness and not your brain, because the conscious “you” survives the death of the brain. This can only mean that you/your consciousness use your brain.

DAVID: Use of consciousness is a learned process. Logical thinking is a learned process:

Agreed, but according to your beliefs, it is not the brain that does the learning. That is done by “you”/your consciousness. How else could your consciousness survive the death of the brain along with everything that you/your consciousness have learned?

DAVID: The brain receives consciousness as a mechanism and learns to use it. Consciousness is barely present in a newborn. The 25 year old has a fully developed use of consciousness. The pattern is the same as in the appearance of H. sapiens 200,000 years ago. Look at your twins. The pattern is right in front of you.

Consciousness has to be conscious of something. A baby is born with a minimum of information – you might say that its consciousness is confined to its mother’s breast and its own bodily needs. As the brain matures, it provides more and more information (e.g. through the senses) which consciousness processes and uses, and consciousness in turn uses the brain to implement communication, decisions, actions resulting from its processing of the information. A 25-year-old has a fully developed brain, but I would question whether anyone in this wide world has a fully developed “use of consciousness”. The students in your example (too long to quote again) were incapable of critical thinking because their consciousness was not sufficiently developed, and not because their brains were not large enough. Had they learned to think critically, perhaps their brains would have undergone some rewiring, as with the illiterate women (whose rewiring was the result of their reading, not the cause).


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