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

by dhw, Sunday, May 28, 2017, 15:01 (364 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: On 25 May you wrote: “I am not implying that there are lesser and more advanced levels of consciousness. Consciousness is a single entity, one level.” Now you say your level is advanced and approaches God’s, and clearly your dog has a lower level. So what did you mean by your statement on 25 May?
DAVID: My May 25th statement means my brain receives consciousness to use as one unit. My brain enlargers and becomes more complex from infanthood. As I grow from childhood and mold my personality and approach to life, I use my consciousness from simple thoughts to very complex. I developed learned processes, like the typing at this moment. Under the use of my consciousness my brain responds to develop new connections. The whole thing is seamless: me, self, brain, consciousness.

Not much to disagree with here. Let’s forget about the advanced/no advanced level contradiction, and focus on the big one. You have at last agreed that consciousness uses the brain and not the other way round, though with an unnecessary caveat:
dhw: So why won’t you just have done with it and agree that according to your own scheme of things, consciousness uses and changes the brain, and not the other way round?
DAVID: True, but it is under the seamless control of me!

No “but”. You have already agreed that “me” is your consciousness. We can now move to the question of enlargement.

dhw: You don’t seem to have recognized that this study shows usage influencing the brain, not the other way round. Once the brain had reached its optimum size, the changes had to be to the “wiring”, not to the size. The more “uses” we invent, the more complex the “wiring”. Yes, the large brain preceded all these newer uses, but what enlarged the brain in the first place?
DAVID: Exactly the point: If an enlarged brain came first with parts basically unused, because thoughts and activities hadn't been invented as yet, then its plasticity allowed for it to adapt as the mental discoveries advanced.

Pre-humans had brains, and if brains are plastic and conscious demands change them, as shown by the study, it is illogical to argue that the brain changed – whether by enlargement or by complexity - before there were demands.

dhw: …I can only ask as I did before, why would the process be reversed for early humans, with changes preceding concepts?
DAVID: The gaps in evolution firmly predict change first. use second.

The gaps cannot “predict” anything. We are trying to explain them, and as you so rightly observed: “This study shows the intimate interconnection of our developing 'self' and how our brain changes to accommodate the integration of experience and responses.” Same again: If our consciousness is independent of our brain (your belief – I remain neutral) and consciousness uses the brain, as you now agree, then the obvious conclusion is that consciousness caused the enlargement, just as it causes the complexifications.

DAVID: My size first, use second of the brain, still fits what I see as evolutionary history. H sapiens arrived 200,000 years ago with a big jump of 200 cc in brain size. No evidence of new use gradually prodding the plastic brain to change ...etc.

The “gradualness” of enlargement covers the growth from the earliest hominins to ourselves. If the different stages occurred as big jumps (= saltations), it makes no difference to the argument that the brain changes when consciousness makes new demands. We have already agreed many times that saltations are indeed a mystery and that there is no evidence for my hypothesis or for your own.

DAVID: Of course a new size implies a causing mechanism. dhw can't find one. I posit God. so we are on opposite sides of his picket fence.

As usual, you try to shift the argument to belief in God. I am not even discounting the possibility that the size of the brain IS the cause of enhanced consciousness (= materialism). I don’t know the cause of consciousness, whereas you think you do. I am simply pointing out that such a belief is a contradiction of your OWN belief that consciousness/the self (an independent entity which you envisage surviving into an afterlife) uses the brain. Neither belief excludes God anyway, but you are so fixed in your interpretation of his mind that you seem to think any other interpretation is atheistic!

Thank you for the post that follows, on the subject of language. It is fascinating, but makes not the slightest difference to the argument. You put the following in bold:

DAVID: These mysterious languages demonstrate the brain’s astonishing capacity to decode information from new signals – with insights that are causing some neuroscientists to rethink the fundamental organisation of the brain.

Nobody will deny the brain’s astonishing capacity to do all sorts of things. But if the brain is a RECEIVER according to your beliefs, it can only have changed when changes were needed in order to decode the information being sent by consciousness.


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