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The Mind


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#1 ret

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 05:21 PM

Although they clearly interact, there is reasonable evidence to say that the brain is not solely responsible for the mind. For example, Wilder Penfield's experiments showed that electrical stimulation to the brain can control one hand, but the person can consciously control their other hand to oppose the first hand. Sir Charles Sherrington (he did a lot of foundation work on the functions of the brain and spinal cord) said "For me now, the only reality is the human soul."

I'm not saying it's a scientific fact that the mind couldn't have arisen from evolution, because I am far too ignorant on the subject to make that assertion, but it does seem unlikely. If, as has been proposed, the mind does not lie in the physical brain... where is it?

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 10:08 PM

Funny you should bring that up. I had that discussion on another forum. Someone left a link to a site that made me fall out of my seat from laughing. There was 100% assumptions presented as fact. Just like the link here: http://www.cshl.org/labs/brody/SJC/Papers/...n%20evolve'

But no one can explain the mind. I like the graph on that page. Do you think it was actually observed, or assumed?

#3 Modulous

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 10:43 PM

Of course, the answer to "What is mind?", or "Where did mind come from?" is a very difficult question since it has hard to define. We do know that minor damages to the brain can effect the mind so no matter what one thinks, the two are linked somehow. All that said and done though, neuroscience is not a complete discipline, the full workings of the brain are beyond us. This is hardly surprising, if I remember rightly they have evolved a radio than nobody can understand the workings of. If we can understand exactly how an evolved radio works, how are we to understand the very source of our understanding?


Admin3, I didn't read the full link, but I didn't see things being presented as fact. I saw words like 'postulate', and 'interpret' and 'suggests'. I look at the graph, it seems to be based on actual observed data, but I could be wrong. Why do you ask?

#4 ret

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 11:35 PM

But no one can explain the mind. I like the graph on that page. Do you think it was actually observed, or assumed?


It was a graph of physical area, so it was probably observed.

We do know that minor damages to the brain can effect the mind so no matter what one thinks, the two are linked somehow.


I would like to point out that I mentioned this: "Although they clearly interact..."

All that said and done though, neuroscience is not a complete discipline, the full workings of the brain are beyond us.


I know that, and I don't pretend to be an expert on them. Still, it seems as though this information shows that the brain is not entirely responsible for the mind.

Another point worth noting: the brain never brings all of its information into one spot, which means that it cannot be responsible for a mind that can use information from more than one area of the brain at once. Or at least, that's what I think, but I'm not an expert.

#5 Modulous

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 11:49 PM

Still, it seems as though this information shows that the brain is not entirely responsible for the mind.

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What information shows this?

Another point worth noting: the brain never brings all of its information into one spot, which means that it cannot be responsible for a mind that can use information from more than one area of the brain at once. Or at least, that's what I think, but I'm not an expert.


I don't follow, can you expand on that?

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 07:08 AM

Might I humbly suggest that people read a book or two on neuroanatomy before embarking on this subject? There's a lot of woo-woo nonsense floating about concerning this subject.

~~ Paul

#7 chance

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 01:53 PM

Although they clearly interact, there is reasonable evidence to say that the brain is not solely responsible for the mind. For example, Wilder Penfield's experiments showed that electrical stimulation to the brain can control one hand, but the person can consciously control their other hand to oppose the first hand. Sir Charles Sherrington (he did a lot of foundation work on the functions of the brain and spinal cord) said "For me now, the only reality is the human soul."

I'm not saying it's a scientific fact that the mind couldn't have arisen from evolution, because I am far too ignorant on the subject to make that assertion, but it does seem unlikely. If, as has been proposed, the mind does not lie in the physical brain... where is it?

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IMO, the mind is the brain. Reasoning - Many animals have mind, e.g. the dog or chimpanzee, it’s true they have lesser capabilities than ourselves but one can see the wheels turning when you interact or observe them.

Also – a great deal of what we know about the brain has been learned by studying those with brain damage, from this we have mapped the brain functions by areas in the brain. One of the most remarkable aspects however is the somewhat plastic nature of the brain in that a separate area can (sometimes) take over from a damaged area.

Studying other animals has also pointed to certain areas of the brain that have specific function.

If the mind lies outside the brain, one would think that there should be some way of proving this.

#8 ret

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Posted 21 May 2005 - 09:04 PM

Many animals have mind, e.g. the dog or chimpanzee, it’s true they have lesser capabilities than ourselves but one can see the wheels turning when you interact or observe them.


I don't believe I ever said that the mind was completely independent of the brain. If I seemed to imply it, I apologize, because that isn't what I meant. I'm not saying that the brain has nothing to do with the mind, only that it doesn't seem to be solely responsible.

Also – a great deal of what we know about the brain has been learned by studying those with brain damage, from this we have mapped the brain functions by areas in the brain.


Just wanted to point out that brain functions aren't really the same thing as the mind. Or at least, not the functions you're talking about. I say this with confidence because there are brain functions, such as breathing, that don't require conscious thought.

What information shows this?


The experiments of Penfield that I mentioned earlier, for one. Also the information you asked about in this next quote:

I don't follow, can you expand on that?


I certainly can. If you'll notice, you can focus on more than one source of information at the same time. For example, you can smell a cookie while you're eating it, while you're watching TV. My thought was that, if the brain is responsible for your mind (which is where the information is meeting), then all of these pieces of information would have to gather somewhere. If the information never comes together, than it shouldn't be able to be mixed together. The odd thing is that, as far as I've read (there may be a new discovery since then, I don't know), the information in the brain is never gathered into one place. Maybe I'm just missing something, but it doesn't seem like this adds up if the brain is solely responsible for the brain.

There's a lot of woo-woo nonsense floating about concerning this subject.


Could you please clarify what you mean? It makes it very hard to research my points when all I have to go on is "woo-woo nonsense." That gets some weird things on Google.

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Posted 22 May 2005 - 01:48 AM

Could you please clarify what you mean? It makes it very hard to research my points when all I have to go on is "woo-woo nonsense." That gets some weird things on Google.

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I may be able to help with that.

In certain critical-thinking communities, "woo-woo" has come to be commonly used as a sort of catch-all term for the pseudo-scientific, inspired by the worst excesses of pseudo-thinkers on a wide range of topics such as astrology, bigfoot, Atlantis, UFOs, crystal energy, psychic reading, magnet therapy, tree-hugging... you get the idea.

I would add this to Paul's recommendation: in addition to some basic neurology, I would consider some basic philosophy a reasonable prerequisite to any serious addressing of this topic. This is an old puzzle, and it can be discouraging to discover that one has spent a lot of energy duplicating the work of some guy who died several centuries ago.

#10 chance

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Posted 23 May 2005 - 01:54 PM

I certainly can. If you'll notice, you can focus on more than one source of information at the same time. For example, you can smell a cookie while you're eating it, while you're watching TV. My thought was that, if the brain is responsible for your mind (which is where the information is meeting), then all of these pieces of information would have to gather somewhere. If the information never comes together, than it shouldn't be able to be mixed together. The odd thing is that, as far as I've read (there may be a new discovery since then, I don't know), the information in the brain is never gathered into one place. Maybe I'm just missing something, but it doesn't seem like this adds up if the brain is solely responsible for the brain.

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Sound to me that you are describing a process of intelligence, i.e. smell, + taste + eating = cookie. I suppose an analogy to this process would be the popular movie ‘The Terminator’ part of the plot describe the awakening of the super computer sky-net, this is not caused by a single ‘mind’ component, but rather the collective integration of many parts (the sum is greater than the whole) so instead of getting 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 you get 1 & 1 & 1 = 9.

p.s some functions of the body are autonomous and don’t require active thought it’s true, but I don’t see how this fact is a problem.

#11 ret

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 12:22 PM

Sound to me that you are describing a process of intelligence, i.e. smell, + taste + eating = cookie.


Maybe I didn't explain what I meant very well. I'm not talking about situations that can be explained that way, where everything can remain seperate and the thought can still occur. A better example might be that you are watching (and listening to) TV, and you notice that the sound is coming about one second before the mouths move. Your first thought is that the sound track is ahead of the visual. This requires that the two pieces of information come together somewhere, doesn't it? If the sight information and the sound information never come together, then they can't be compared.

Or at least, that was my thought. I would like to again point out that I am far too ignorant to claim this as fact.

p.s some functions of the body are autonomous and don’t require active thought it’s true, but I don’t see how this fact is a problem.


I didn't say this was a problem, I was just pointing out why your argument didn't answer what I said. Brain functions don't indicate a mind, they only indicate a brain. A mind is something more than movement, it is actual thought.

#12 chance

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 02:26 PM

Maybe I didn't explain what I meant very well. I'm not talking about situations that can be explained that way, where everything can remain seperate and the thought can still occur. A better example might be that you are watching (and listening to) TV, and you notice that the sound is coming about one second before the mouths move. Your first thought is that the sound track is ahead of the visual. This requires that the two pieces of information come together somewhere, doesn't it? If the sight information and the sound information never come together, then they can't be compared.

Or at least, that was my thought. I would like to again point out that I am far too ignorant to claim this as fact.
I didn't say this was a problem, I was just pointing out why your argument didn't answer what I said. Brain functions don't indicate a mind, they only indicate a brain. A mind is something more than movement, it is actual thought.

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Ok, I think you are asking what it is about the mind that has the ability to rationalise. One of our abilities is to make sense of the word around us by examining cause and effect, (metaphorically putting 2 and 2 together). Long term memory and the ability to recall past events is a prerequisite, and rationalising is basically imagination.



Humans by nature think scientifically, we have evolved that way because of the huge advantages of understanding the mechanisms of the world it has gives us.

To survive in a Darwinian universe there are many solutions:

Bigger
Stronger
Faster
Fast reproduction
Huge quantities of offspring
Smarter
Stealth
Acute senses

Being smart can trump many of the others.




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