Consciousness: and brain damage (General)

by dhw, Friday, January 12, 2018, 13:07 (550 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: An existing large cortex shrinks with use! These is no evidence that new desired uses forces expansion, but it is a neat theory to avoid God.
dhw: The existing large cortex shrinks because the brain and skull have reached their optimum size, and so expansion has been replaced by complexification. This has proved so efficient that some cells and connections are no longer needed. The hypothesis that brain expansion was caused by the need for new abilities to implement new concepts does not avoid God – it merely avoids your theory that God preprogrammed or engineered expansion before hominins were able to come up with new concepts. If God exists, he would have set up the whole mechanism of cellular intelligence on which my hypothesis depends. (David's bold)
DAVID: The bold: I'm glad you know exactly what God would do. The complexity has nothing to do with optimum size. That is your theory, nothing more. And the shrinkage involved more wiring and connections of the neurons used, not less, i.e., more complexity of connections.

The bold: you claimed that my hypothesis avoided God. I have shown you that it doesn’t. Of course I don’t know exactly what a God would do. Nor do you, with your hypothesis that your God preprogrammed or dabbled every innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder in the history of evolution in order to produce the human brain! As regards optimum size, you yourself said that an infinitely expanding brain/skull was the stuff of science fiction. But yes, my hypothesis is that any further increase would have led to problems for the rest of the anatomy, and so complexification took over from expansion. I am more than happy to be corrected on the exact nature of the shrinkage: if it does not entail the loss of cells and connections no longer needed, perhaps you would tell us exactly what the shrinkage consists of.

DAVID: Just try to imagine what I clearly see. Our personalities cannot be seen or felt. I know your personality but I can't see it or touch it. But I can see your face in my memory and recognize it, all immaterial. All of us are wet biology with functional immaterial s/s/c's existing in us to run the brain.
dhw: At last a clear and meaningful account of your dualistic beliefs, mercifully freed from the messy computer analogy, and specifying that it is the immaterial s/s/c that runs the material brain. If it is true, it is a complete rebuttal of your statements that the cortex PRODUCES the thoughts and concepts, and that mental processes are biochemical.
DAVID: I have always tried to present the concepts in the statement I've given above, and I think you have finally understood my position, except your last comment. Of course thoughts and concepts are produced by the pre-frontal and frontal cortex, directed by the s/s/c. The base of mental processes is of course biochemical as that describes the material funtional brain which does act as a computer under control of the s/s/c software. The ability to produce very complex thought requires a very complex enlarged cortex for the s/s/c to use. Proven by new artifact production by each stage of hominin.

I’m sorry, but this makes no sense to me. The whole essence of dualism is that the self/soul/consciousness IS the person’s thoughts, ideas, concepts, emotions, memories. The crucial obfuscation lies in your penultimate sentence: as physical beings (forget about the afterlife) we are able to produce thought – whether complex or not – and this requires the material brain for the provision of information and the material expression or implementation of thought (both of which processes are biochemica), but for a dualist the thought itself comes from the “soul” and not from the cortex. To use your otherwise totally unhelpful computer image: the software (soul) does the thinking, and the computer (brain) does the implementing. THAT is how the s/s/c “uses” the complexities of the brain. If you insist that the cortex (computer) does the thinking, then the soul (software) has no function.

dhw: (under "new tasks”) [Pre-sapiens brains] can only produce new advances by expanding. In my hypothesis, the expansion does not precede the production, it is CAUSED by the production.
DAVID: The artifacts appear only after the larger brain has arrived. You can't avoid the time sequence.

Of course that is the sequence. The artefacts CAN only appear once the brain has acquired the ability to produce them. The illiterate women’s rewiring took place while they learned to write, and by the time they could write, the rewiring was complete. The hominin brain changed through the process of making its tools, and by the time the tools were made, the expansion was complete. The appearance of the artefacts coincided with the expansion which, like the rewiring, did not take place before the implementation of the concept, but was caused BY the implementation of the concept.

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