The Arts (Art)

by Carl, Wednesday, October 01, 2008, 02:42 (5681 days ago) @ Mark

Mark says dhw, "by focusing on the arts, and on the wider issue of consciousness, has exposed one of science's weakest areas." "I don't see how it is possible to give any account of the arts without speaking of transcendence: the human spirit reaching for something beyond..." "...the artistic impulse and the sense of the divine are linked." "Consciousness presents an even bigger problem to science. No scientist has the first clue how to explain consciousness from the bottom up, from physics."
Consciousness is the great mystery that may never be solved by science. Mark is right that science has no real prospects for explanation at this time. Rational atheists must acknowledge they have nothing more than a belief that, if an explanation is found, it will be a natural one. Dhw is discussing how sensory experience triggers emotion in the consciousness. To say that the process is just activation of neural networks does not explain it. I have the experience of what I call the "unity of thought", the sense that all my consciousness is projected on a single screen. I also have sub-conscious process that are allowing me to walk or drive, that monitor my physical status for pain, hunger etc. that will interrupt whats playing on the main screen if attention is needed. Not everyone experiences the sense of the divine like Mark or the aesthetics of the arts like dhw, but these experiences are real. It is true they are produced by neural networks, but there is also a strong sense that there is something more.
One small point of hope for naturalists is the parallels between the mind and computers. One codes a program which is converted into a string of ones and zeros represented by presence or absence of electrons. This string of electrons is routed to a block of silicone and exotic metals which generates more strings of electrons that are fed to other devices, and ultimately is displayed of a video screen or printer or something. The display is interpreted as house plans or news or a video game. The network is nothing but wires and silicone, but intelligent information is produced. There are many differences between computers and brains, but in both cases intelligence is produced by simple components. I will save David the trouble of pointing out that there is intelligence behind the computer program.
The intelligence produced by the computer and the brain is emergent, relatively simple structures producing complex results. Much of what we think of as created, such as galaxies, solar systems, planets and life is really emergent rather than created. Perhaps God is emergent.

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