Introducing the brain (Introduction)

by dhw, Wednesday, May 09, 2018, 13:07 (940 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: You have noted on May 7th that you do not understand the brain. I will add as much info as I can to help your understanding of it, and how it function:

DAVID’s comment: Corvids equal to apes!! Major point. It is the complexity that makes the difference, not the size. Answers dhw's weird point. Complexity of cognition is based on complexity. Until complexity arrives, cognition is less. Complexity is not size, nor is a drive for size necessary to have more advanced cognition.

Thank you for this interesting article, which raises a number of problems. Not least is your own negation of your belief that your God had to enlarge the pre-sapiens brain before it could think new thoughts. If complexity was all that mattered, there was no need for enlargement. (Contrast my view, that the pre-sapiens capacity for complexification became exhausted, and so greater capacity was needed – and that meant enlargement.) Your comment that complexity of cognition is based on brain complexity once again reinforces your materialism (which may well be true), and the article also emphasizes how both behaviour and intelligence have cells as their source:

QUOTE: Recent experiments in mice have shown that manipulating these uncharismatic cells can produce dramatic effects on behaviour. In one experiment, a research group in Japan showed that direct stimulation of glia in a brain region called the cerebellum could cause a behavioural response analogous to changes more commonly evoked by stimulation of neurons. Another remarkable study showed that transplantation of human glial cells into mouse brains boosted the animals’ performance in learning tests, again demonstrating the importance of glia in shaping brain function. Chemicals and glue are as integral to brain function as wiring and electricity. (My bold)

If you mess with the cells, you mess with the self.

The author of this article, however, not only dismisses the concept of an immaterial soul, but he also opposes the idea that the brain is the central factor that determines the self. These two quotes illustrate both points:

QUOTE: But lost in the public’s romance with the brain is the most fundamental lesson neuroscience has to teach us: that the organ of our minds is a purely physical entity, conceptually and causally embedded in the natural world. Although the brain is required for almost everything we do, it never works alone. Instead, its function is inextricably linked to the body and to the environment around it. The interdependence of these factors is masked however by a cultural phenomenon I call the ‘cerebral mystique’ – a pervasive idealisation of the brain and its singular importance, which protects traditional conceptions about differences between mind and body, the freedom of will and the nature of thought itself.

In other contexts, we miss analogous factors when we attribute drug addiction or adolescent misbehaviour to the brain, or when we credit the brain for creativity and intelligence. In each case, an idealised view that simply locates good and bad personal qualities in the brain is remarkably similar to old-fashioned perspectives that assigned virtue and vice to the metaphysical soul. An updated view should instead accept that any act of brilliance or depravity arises from a combination of brain, body and environment working together.

I’m afraid you cannot claim that his findings support your belief in an immaterial piece of God’s consciousness (soul) or that they refute my hypothesis concerning the enlargement of the pre-sapiens brain. As for the intelligence of other organisms, you can hardly claim that I attribute it to size, when I am the one who is constantly championing the intelligence of insects and microorganisms.

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