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

by dhw, Sunday, May 14, 2017, 12:16 (404 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Is a newborn fully conscious. Not in an adult sense. Full consciousness develops due to the plasticity of the brain to enlarge and develop the complexity it needs for a full reception of consciousness. […]
dhw: How can consciousness develop because the brain becomes big enough to receive it? That is like saying that if you buy a bigger bucket, it will cause more rain to fall so that the rain can fill the bucket. I just cannot see the logic in your argument that while the receiver does not produce consciousness, and consciousness can exist independently of the receiver, the receiver has to develop before consciousness can develop. At least the materialist view is consistent: consciousness is the product of the brain and ceases when the brain dies. […]

DAVID: You miss the point entirely. The radio receiver concept assumes consciousness is an independent entity pervading the universe. The brain does not develop consciousness. It RECEIVES consciousness and as through plasticity the brain develops, it learns how to use it. Personality development is part of the process; intellectual capacity, I.Q., depth of thought all part of development of its use as a tool.

Unless I have completely misunderstood the above, you seem to be suggesting some form of consciousness that has nothing to be conscious of: a blank that somehow enters each individual organism from outside. And then you say the plastic, developing brain learns how to use it, whereas your belief in free will suggests that consciousness uses the brain. Please clarify: do you think the brain uses consciousness, or consciousness uses the brain?
I’m not sure where this discussion will lead us, but at least we can do a bit more delving.

My starting point is that each individual organism has his/her/its personal consciousness. You asked if a newborn baby is “fully conscious”, and I think that’s an important question in relation to all the above. When a baby cries for food, its consciousness is operating at the lowest animal level: the body tells it what it needs and the brain triggers the appropriate actions to express its needs. As individual brains and bodies mature and subjectively experience the outer as well as the inner world, they complexify their needs and modes of expression, as there is more and more for them to be conscious of. The “independent entity” you have described above is a blanket external awareness of nothing – and incidentally as such can hardly be identified with your God, since he could not have created the universe if he wasn’t conscious of something. The only such nebulous concept I can think of that might “pervade the universe” is some form of panpsychism in which materials possess an innate degree of awareness. But in that case, consciousness is not an “independent entity”; it is confined to individual materials, and so the individual material brain has and develops its own consciousness, as opposed to receiving it as a blank blob of nothingness from outside itself. I’ll leave it at that for the time being, to get your angle on what I’ve said so far.


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