Big brain evolution: changes in sapiens skull shape (Evolution)

by dhw, Sunday, February 11, 2018, 13:13 (1018 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: At times I speak to me, but I can be totally unproductive of thought and just observing.

Not the point. You claim you are only aware of your thoughts if you talk to someone or write them down. I don’t believe it.

DAVID: … I'm never aware of my s/s/c unless my brain is functional, as per NDE's.

dhw: …in NDEs the brain is NOT functional and yet the self is aware of itself, and afterwards reveals its experiences to the brain. That is why NDEs provide evidence for dualism…

DAVID: ...according to Eben Alexander in his book he was totally an observer and had lost sense of self or memory of himself. "Self is aware of self" does not fit his experience. You are making assumptions. All of the material I have read presents a picture of the s/s/c while separate simply observing and receiving information.

This is akin to the Buddhist philosophy of losing the sense of self, which makes sense, but was not quite what I meant. You are right to challenge what I wrote. I’ll try to be more precise. In earthly life too, as you say above, there are countless times when we merely observe. We do not say to ourselves: “This is me observing the monster approaching with a knife in his hand.” Observation or absorption of information precedes our thoughts about what we have observed. It would have to be the same with NDEs. When the immediate experience is over, we (and Alexander) remember, interpret, analyse. The dualist’s “we” = the s/s/c, not the brain. (More below.)

DAVID: We've agreed I can only work with my s/s/c when my brain functions.

No, we haven’t. We've agreed that we can only express or implement thoughts etc. with a functional brain. The dualist’s I = s/s/c. Now you seem to be saying I/the s/s/c can only think when the brain functions. But the whole point of using NDEs as evidence of dualism is that the s/s/c, which does our thinking, remembering, interpreting, exists independently of the brain! If these immaterial processes depend on the brain (and they may well do so), we are back to materialism.

DAVID: I keep repeating. The s/s/c is a receiver of information in an NDE and when reattached to a functional brain the patient then learns about the experience.

I remember examples of NDEs in which the patient was told to return but didn’t want to, which suggests more than observation, but let’s stick to Alexander. Why do you say he only “learns” about the experience when his brain is functioning? The experience is lodged in his s/s/c, not his brain. The only possible direction of “learning” is the brain learning from s/s/c, not the other way round! And so we return to the basis of dualism: NDEs provide evidence that the s/s/c exists independently of the brain. The s/s/c does the thinking/remembering/ interpreting etc. and passes its thoughts to the brain so that the thoughts may be given material expression or implementation. What objection do you now have to this hypothesis, to which you have already agreed so many times?


DAVID: You cannot get around the fact that more advanced artifacts only appear when we find a hominin with a larger brain present.

Correct. In BOTH hypotheses, the artefact can only appear when the concept has been implemented. You say the enlargement preceded the implementation, and I propose that the implementation caused the enlargement.

DAVID: The only scientific fact we have is brain shrinkage with new uses. The rest of your theory is all conjecture with no basis.
DAVID: How do we know only modern humans had shrinking brains with new implementations? Evolution builds on past methods and advances. Complexity from new uses very likely occurred in past hominins with some brain shrinkage.

It may well have done. But according to your unscientific conjecture, the point was reached when the brain had to be enlarged in order to cope with new demands, and so you say your God did the enlarging BEFORE new demands made it necessary. My unscientific conjecture is that the brain had to enlarge itself WHEN new demands made enlargement necessary. My conjecture is based on the one scientific fact we do have, which is that the brain RESPONDS to new tasks, and does not change before the new tasks are at hand, as you so rightly point out under “Brain complexity: gene response…”.

dhw: I can’t improve on the description of implementation that you wrote yourself under “Learning new tasks”, 2 December, but later wanted to rewrite: “If habilis has an idea for spears, the idea is immaterial. No brain change. Once he learns to knapp flint, attach the stone point to a wooden rod, and then practices throwing it with accuracy, there is no question his brain has enlarged with all the muscle movement and visual coordination involved”.
DAVID: …I don't wish anything of the sort about not writing it. I obviously mistyped my thought which was that only an enlarged brain could create the new artifacts and implementations. I've never changed my underlying concept and now you have implied I'm not feeling truthful about my true theories etc.

Absolutely not, and I apologize if I gave you that impression! You asked me how I thought implementation worked, and I quoted your description because I cannot improve on perfection! Of course I accept that you didn’t mean to write what you wrote.

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