Dualism versus materialism: A scientist's approach (Identity)

by David Turell @, Sunday, September 10, 2017, 23:22 (558 days ago) @ dhw

A psychologist's description of how she thinks the brain works:


"A reasonable, science-backed way to define and practice emotional intelligence comes from a modern, neuroscientific view of brain function called construction: the observation that your brain creates all thoughts, emotions, and perceptions, automatically and on the fly, as needed. This process is completely unconscious. It may seem like you have reflex-like emotional reactions and effortlessly detect emotions in other people, but under the hood, your brain is doing something else entirely.

"Here’s the 20,000 foot summary: Your brain’s most important job is not thinking or feeling or even seeing, but keeping your body alive and well so that you survive and thrive (and eventually reproduce). How is your brain to do this? Like a sophisticated fortune-teller, your brain constantly predicts. Its predictions ultimately become the emotions you experience and the expressions you perceive in other people.

"Your brain spends its entire existence in a dark silent box, called your skull. It receives only the sensory effects of what is going on in the world—the sights, sounds, smells, touches, and tastes that come through the body’s sensors—and must guess what their causes are, because any sound or flash of light or aroma or pinch can have many different causes. To make these guesses, your brain relies on past experience: What caused these sensations before in similar contexts? What worked to keep you alive and well and might be needed again? Your brain has the amazing ability to combine bits of past experience to create the closest match to these sensations, given the specific situation that you are in. These past experiences are predictions. Your brain continually predicts every experience you have, and every action you take, to guess what is going on in the world and what you should do about it.

"From your brain’s perspective, your body is just another source of information to make sense of—the thumping of your heart, the tug of your lungs expanding, the warmth of inflammation, and so on. These changes in your body have no objective emotional meaning. A dull ache in your stomach, for example, might be disgust, anxiety, or merely hunger. So, your brain spends most of its time issuing thousands of microscopic predictions of what your body needs (water, glucose, salt) and attempts to meet those needs before they arise. In the process, your brain also predicts the sensations that those physical changes would cause, such as feeling your heart pound in your chest, as well as what actions you should take. This constant storm of predictions—which occur automatically and completely outside of your awareness—forms the basis for everything you think, feel, see, smell, or otherwise experience in any way. That’s how emotions, thoughts, and perceptions are made."

Comment: This is entirely a mechanistic, materialistic view of brain function. Where is consciousness in all of this description: totally created by the brain. It could not survive a near to death episode, but it is demonstrated that consciousness is active while clinically dead. This tells me there must be dualism. The essay is actually on the subject of handling emotions. those paragraphs set the stage for the author's discussion.

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