Introducing the brain (Introduction)

by dhw, Thursday, May 31, 2018, 12:01 (199 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: The only difference I can see between us is your insistence that even though the dualist’s soul is the same in life as in death, in life it depends on the brain for its ability to THINK, but in death it can THINK without the brain. And that is what doesn’t make sense to me.

DAVID: It doesn't make sense to you because you can only visualize an unchanging soul mechanism of operation. I propose two mechanisms with the soul maintaining its unity as a personage in life and death. Otherwise we generally agree.

And I keep asking you what mechanisms of operation you are referring to, and your last reply merely repeated my own distinction between material and psychic. If the soul maintains its unity in life and death, it can only be as the thinking, feeling, remembering “personage”. Therefore the now dead material part of the dualist’s being cannot have been responsible for the processes of thinking, feeling, remembering etc. – unless it actually PRODUCED the immaterial part, which somehow forms an entity that survives (just as the image survives the “death” of the materials that produced it). My proposal supports your materialistic contention that the soul cannot think without the brain, but it does not support the illogical claim that the soul is a separate entity (a “piece of God’s consciousness”) inserted into the brain, unable to think without the brain, and yet able to think when there is no brain. But of course it does depend on the brain to provide information and to implement its thoughts.

dhw: To use your favourite analogy, do you get a new computer before the new software exists, or do you get it when the old one can’t implement the programmes of the new software?

DAVID: You are not thinking clearly about computers. Your old computer is dying. So you get a new bigger one with new better software. The new one comes all complete with better hardware and software capable of more complex activity. AS in erectus to habilis to sapiens. What you suggest is several steps to new computing.

You are not thinking clearly about the whole purpose of your dualist’s analogy, which is to indicate the dual composition of the living being: mind and body. You agree that it is the software that does the thinking (“I did not say BOTH think”), so what are you left with? Thinking software soul and implementing hardware brain. And frankly, if I were the dualist you claim to be, I would indeed have thought that a piece of God’s consciousness would do the thinking both inside and outside the brain, instead of depending on the brain to think and then not depending on the brain to think.

DAVID: I'm not ignoring complexification. You propose frustrated attempts at thought forced a new brain size to accommodate that thought in earlier homos, as I interpret your theory. What we see in the only living brain we can study is a shrinking brain. No evidence of forced expansion despite enormous efforts at complex thought. Instead we see a built-in mechanism of shrinkage.

And you say you are not ignoring complexification! What we see in the living brain is complexification and limited expansion of particular areas (both in response to particular thoughts) and shrinkage over the past x thousand years. And you still refuse to tell me why you do not accept my proposed explanation for shrinkage (efficient complexification making some cells redundant). And you also refuse to tell me why the pre-sapiens brain would have expanded if it shrank. You keep saying we must base our hypotheses on what we actually know. My hypothesis that the implementation of new concepts forced changes in the pre-sapiens brain is based on the proven fact that the implementation of new concepts forces changes in the sapiens brain: complexification and in certain cases limited expansion. We have evidence that the pre-sapiens brain expanded, but there is no evidence that it shrank. Nor is there any evidence that your God expanded the hippocampus and the auditory cortex of taxi drivers and musicians BEFORE they took up their careers.


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