Introducing the brain (Introduction)

by dhw, Thursday, May 17, 2018, 13:19 (932 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Using psychedelic drugs alters thinking:

DAVID’s comment: These drugs not only change ego structure in how one thinks about one's self, but can create abnormal mental states. This doesn't solve our problem of how soul and brain relate, but these drugs demonstrate how intimately the state of the brain affects what thinking appears.

Fascinating stuff! Your last comment is spot on - and a clear example of materialism at work. This not only illuminates most of our disagreements, but it also proves a vivid example of how my “theory of intelligence” actually functions and might “solve our problem of how brain and soul relate”. If the cells and their chemicals produce the soul, then anything that changes the cells will change the soul. But the changes will also be governed by which cell communities are affected by the “intruder”. The author feels a kind of divided awareness – he is inside and outside himself. I suggest that different cell communities have their own awareness and know what is happening to other communities, but because they are all part of him, HE is aware. Whether this “soul” can live on or not is the subject of my post on “Reconciling materialism and dualism” (5 January).

I’ve edited the comments below to avoid repetition. Most of them focus on the dichotomy between materialism and dualism which you refuse to recognize. What is interesting for me is that so many of the contradictions simply disappear if we reverse the conventional process of theistic dualism and embrace materialism as your God’s chosen method of creating souls. Atheists have, of course, already embraced materialism but reject the possibility of a “soul” that might survive its producer.

dhw: […] your soul cannot THINK in life without the brain. So how can it be an entity?
DAVID: Why can't it be an entity? [..]

An entity is something that “exists as a single and complete unit” (Longman). According to you, the soul is an entity after death, because it thinks without the brain, but if in life it depends on the brain for its THINKING, it can’t be single and complete. The discrepancy is removed by my theory.

DAVID: [..] I do not view the soul as one rigid form. It obviously must be different in the afterlife and you have previously agreed.

How can an immaterial soul have a form? You keep agreeing that your soul in life and death remains the same thinking you. I have agreed that the same soul must FUNCTION differently (e.g. it would have to communicate by telepathy).

I pointed out that you have always talked of the brain as a receiver.

DAVID: I have said the brain receives the soul at birth, but I do not view it as a radio receiving signals thereafter.

I would rather not waste time producing quotes, but I will if you insist. Your receiver image has always denoted the distinction between the two parts of the duality, in the same way as you use the software/hardware analogy (see final comment).

DAVID: The soul and brain must work intimately together to produce thought in life.

If dualism is correct, the thinking soul (which continues to think after death) and the brain must work intimately together to produce the material expression and implementation of immaterial thought in life.

dhw: This whole discussion began when you, the dualist, insisted that your God expanded the brain of pre-sapiens to enable him to think new thoughts. That means thought depends on the brain, and that is materialism.

DAVID: You refuse to accept that our brain, with all its complexity, is the best brain every produced as shown by its artifacts. I'm not discussing the cause of enlargement.

The starting point of this discussion (some time ago) was not the quality of our brain, which I have always accepted, but your insistence that your God enlarged the pre-sapiens brain so that pre-sapiens could think new thoughts. That is materialism, and has major bearings on our interpretation of evolution and on the dichotomy between materialism and dualism.

DAVID: Your view of the soul is that it is entirely a separate entity which somehow transmits to a separate brain while it obviously resides in the brain during life. I dispute your idea of a separation. With this difference, your logic is not my logic. We start at two very different points. Dualism does not require complete separation, as in my computer analogy.

Your computer analogy has two separate pieces of equipment with different functions, combining thought and implementation of thought. Dualism does not mean “complete separation” – it means that two entities (conventionally, mind and body) combine to produce material expression/implementation of immaterial thought. You can hardly deny that your own view of the soul is that it is an entirely separate entity in your afterlife, but in life it resides in the brain. So why should the soul be the thinking you in death but not in life?

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