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

by dhw, Monday, February 12, 2018, 10:43 (1160 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: The point I was making, using the NDE's as background, is when the brain is not functioning, the s/s/c separated and is off having an experience, which it can disclose to the brain only when the brain is once again functional.

Total agreement, from a dualistic standpoint.

DAVID: The 'I' in the equation i=s/s/c as a living person becomes aware of the experience only when the s/s/c and brain are reunited.

Dualism entails separating brain from s/s/c, as in your computer analogy. The brain (hardware) only becomes aware of the experience when it is informed by the s/s/c (software). The brain wasn’t there. So of course they have to be reunited before the brain can give material expression to the s/s/c’s immaterial memories. (See below.)

DAVID: I cannot have a feeling of selfhood unless my brain is functional. The living brain and the s/s/c only work together when joined.

I tried to explain a “feeling of selfhood” in my previous post. When in life we observe, we do not think of ourselves as observing. “Selfhood” comes into play when we think about what we observed. Ditto with NDEs. The patient (Alexander) is still himself/herself without a brain during an NDE, but may not analyse the experience until afterwards. However, see below for more reflections on this. Second sentence: Of course two things only work together when joined. The question is how they work, and as you keep agreeing and then disagreeing, the s/s/c does the thinking (software) and the brain gives material expression to the thought (hardware). That is how they work together.

dhw: I remember examples of NDEs in which the patient was told to return but didn’t want to, which suggests more than observation.
DAVID: I agree that the s/s/c in an NDE receives information and makes observations as its primary function. There are interactions where they express a wish to stay and are told they must go back.

And this shows that the patient not only observes but also has a feeling of selfhood.

DAVID: Of course his now functioning brain receives the information, and that occurs only when Alexander is able to turn on his brain and understand what it now contains.

Your usual dodge from I=s/s/c to Alexander being different from “I”. Of course the brain cannot receive the information from Alexander’s s/s/c until it becomes functional again. But it is the s/s/c that had, remembers and analyses the experience. I don’t see the logic in the s/s/c informing the brain of what it knows, and then thinking: “Ah, now that I've given the information to the brain I am able to understand it."

DAVID: This is a temporal sequence. Alexander, the live 'himself', during the week-long coma, had no knowledge of the NDE until he revived and then explored the knowledge his brain now can transmit to him.

As above, and a total reversal of dualism. The non-functional brain had no knowledge, but Alexander’s self/soul/consciousness had the experience, remembered it, and explored its implications. The brain can’t transmit to the soul the knowledge it never had!

DAVID: For me I view a living person as having a sense of self through his living brain. He uses his s/s/c (immaterial) only through his functional brain (material). Dualism

Let’s look more closely at this “sense of self”. Starting point: the self is the soul that does the thinking, remembering, interpreting etc., and exists independently during NDEs. It also imposes itself during some NDEs, rather than merely observing (see above). However, our sense of self in the material world is intimately linked to our relations with that world, including other people. That is why the brain gives material expression to the thoughts etc. of the s/s/c. Dualism.

DAVID: The brain and s/s/c must intimately interface for us to think.

They must interface if the s/s/c’s thoughts (software) are to be given material form, which is the function of the brain (hardware) – your favourite analogy. As I pointed out earlier, if you can’t think without speaking or writing, I believe you have a problem.


DAVID: To my memory, you have never commented on my point that an early hominin could not know what he did not know and couldn't imagine with his smaller brain. The more complex larger brain allowed such thought. That would be consistent with the artifact level related to each brain size.

Nobody can know what they don’t know, whether their brain is large or small! Every innovation is an extension of knowledge, and even your self-contradictory belief that the s/s/c CAN’T think without a functioning brain, although it CAN think without a functioning brain, still requires an individual to conceive something that nobody knew before. In both hypotheses, artefacts cannot appear until the concept is implemented. i.e. the brain has enlarged.

DAVID: … your conjecture consistently ignores the issue of brain shrinkage with implementation complexity as a scientifc fact we know about the brain under use.

Dealt with over and over again. I suggest that brain shrinkage occurs because of the efficiency of complexification. This may also have been true of hominin brains. However, both hypotheses agree that brain expansion became necessary. That does not mean that brain expansion occurred BEFORE implementation made it necessary!

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