The "Materialist View"

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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby undefineable » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:41 am

shel wrote:I hope Nagarjuna was never challenged to a footrace with a tortoise. That could have been embarrassing. :emb:

If it had happened, the causes of Nagarjuna racing Zeno's Tortiose would never have begun, and the consequences would never end :tongue:
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:59 am

undefineable wrote: Why that set of genes for that re-born awareness?

There is no reason why it isn't totally random.
What is inherited genetically is not awareness,
but the physical environment in which awareness arises as cognition.

The material components of cognition, and awareness,
are like a car, and a driver, respectively.
The physical components of a car cannot produce a driver
nor can a driver operate a car that is not there,
just as the physical body does not produce awareness
and awareness does not manifest as mind without the brain.

If you break it down,
In all of the stuff a person's brain, sense organs and the rest,
there is nothing that has not existed in one way or another for billions of years.
Nobody brought any part of your body here from a different universe.

So, suppose a type of brain function is said to be a trait in a particular family.
For example, Fragile X syndrome is inherited.
But mutations on the x chromosome are material.
The experience of life for a person with Fragile X
occurs as mind, as cognition, as sensory response and so on
and this arises as an interaction between awareness and
the material make up of the brain.
So, there is nothing (that I am aware of) that sufggests
that awareness itself is inherited.
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Alex123 wrote:we cannot observe someone's awareness

What is meant, in this statement, by "observe" and by "awareness"?
I "observe' that you are "aware' of this dialogue.
but that is probably not what you mean, is it?
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Wed Mar 06, 2013 2:00 am

undefineable wrote:
shel wrote:I hope Nagarjuna was never challenged to a footrace with a tortoise. That could have been embarrassing. :emb:

If it had happened, the causes of Nagarjuna racing Zeno's Tortiose would never have begun, and the consequences would never end :tongue:


:twothumbsup:
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby jeeprs » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:25 am

The materialist view of mind can be put like this: 'mind is what brains produce. Therefore understanding brain = understanding mind.'

There are two insurmountable problems with this claim:

1. The Hard Problem - this is that no amount of knowledge about brain chemistry and neurobiology can ever come to terms with the subjective nature of experience. Experience always requires a subject to whom the experience occurs. And the subject can never, by definition, be objectified.

How do materialists such as Daniel Dennett deal with this criticism? Basically by just denying it. He says that the apparently subjective nature of experience is simply an illusion, or words to that effect. He denies the subject, the person, is real, and that says that humans are basically no different to computers. Plenty of people, myself included, think that this is de-humanizing. (In case you think I'm exaggerating, Dennett has recently published a strongly-worded article to exactly that effect: 'we can expect that long into the future, long after every triumph of human thought has been matched or surpassed by "mere machines," there will still be thinkers who insist that the human mind works in mysterious ways that no science can comprehend.' )

2. We can't actually understand the brain anyway! From a 2004 Press Release by the National Institute of Mental Health:

"The explosion of data about the brain is overwhelming conventional ways of making sense of it," said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health. "Like the Human Genome Project, the Human Brain Project is building shared databases in standardized digital form, integrating information from the level of the gene to the level of behavior. These resources will ultimately help us better understand the connection between brain function and human health."

The HBP is coordinated and sponsored by fifteen federal organizations across four federal agencies: the National Institutes of Health (NIMH, NIDA, NINDS, NIDCD, NIA, NIBIB, NICHD, NLM, NCI, NHLBI, NIAAA, NIDCR), the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the U.S. Department of Energy. Representatives from all of these organizations comprise the Federal Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Human Brain Project, which is coordinated by the NIMH. During the initial 10 years of this program 241 investigators have been funded for a total of approximately $100 million.

More than 65,000 neuroscientists publish their results each month in some 300 journals, with their output growing, in some cases, by orders of magnitude, explained Stephen Koslow, Ph.D., NIMH Associate Director for Neuroinformatics, who chairs the HBP Coordinating Committee.

"It's virtually impossible for any individual researcher to maintain an integrated view of the brain and to relate his or her narrow findings to this whole cloth," he said. "It's no longer sufficient for neuroscientists to simply publish their findings piecemeal. We're trying to make the most of advanced information technologies to weave their data into an understandable tapestry."


At the moment, we have the World's Most Expensive Machine trying to understand the nature of the very simplest thing in the world, namely, the hydrogen atom. This has led to ideas such as the multiverse, parallel universes and dark matter. Yet here the materialists are saying that by understanding the brain we are going to arrive at an understanding of mind.

Good luck with that! :twothumbsup:
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:49 am

jeeprs wrote:2. We can't actually understand the brain anyway! From a 2004 Press Release by the National Institute of Mental Health:

"The explosion of data about the brain is overwhelming conventional ways of making sense of it," said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health. "Like the Human Genome Project, the Human Brain Project is building shared databases in standardized digital form, integrating information from the level of the gene to the level of behavior. These resources will ultimately help us better understand the connection between brain function and human health."
The HBP is coordinated and sponsored by fifteen federal organizations across four federal agencies: the National Institutes of Health (NIMH, NIDA, NINDS, NIDCD, NIA, NIBIB, NICHD, NLM, NCI, NHLBI, NIAAA, NIDCR), the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the U.S. Department of Energy. Representatives from all of these organizations comprise the Federal Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Human Brain Project, which is coordinated by the NIMH. During the initial 10 years of this program 241 investigators have been funded for a total of approximately $100 million.
More than 65,000 neuroscientists publish their results each month in some 300 journals, with their output growing, in some cases, by orders of magnitude, explained Stephen Koslow, Ph.D., NIMH Associate Director for Neuroinformatics, who chairs the HBP Coordinating Committee.
"It's virtually impossible for any individual researcher to maintain an integrated view of the brain and to relate his or her narrow findings to this whole cloth," he said. "It's no longer sufficient for neuroscientists to simply publish their findings piecemeal. We're trying to make the most of advanced information technologies to weave their data into an understandable tapestry."



To say we can't actually understand the brain anyway is actually not true, and that is not what this passage suggests. I have friends who are part of the Human Brain Project. It is a huge undertaking, so vast, in fact that, as quoted, "It's virtually impossible for any individual researcher to maintain an integrated view of the brain and to relate his or her narrow findings to this whole cloth" . There are so many aspects to brain function that it takes all kinds of input and data collection. But amazing discoveries are being made, which i hope will help many people during my lifetime.

But yes, as you say, this is about the brain, not about the mind.

Here is a cool picture sent to me from one of the researchers. It is an actual photograph of brain activity. his area is in studying neurons, so I think this reflects research in that area.

My understanding is that awareness, you could say, interprets this electric-chemical activity as thoughts, as fear, as memory and so on. that interpretation is experienced as the arising of what we call mind.

For example, when we experience fear, we are actually experiencing molecular activity in the brain. But that molecular activity itself isn't fear. What we experience as fear is very close in molecular structure to what we experience as anger. But that molecular activity itself isn't anger. So, the assertion that all we are really experiencing is physical brain activity is accurate. But the key word here is "we". Who is experiencing that molecular activity, interpreting that molecular activity as a childhood memory, or plans for a vacation? That is what the materialist cannot answer without getting into an endless loop.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby jeeprs » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:25 am

My understanding is that awareness, you could say, interprets this electric-chemical activity as thoughts, as fear, as memory and so on. that interpretation is experienced as the arising of what we call mind.

For example, when we experience fear, we are actually experiencing molecular activity in the brain. But that molecular activity itself isn't fear. What we experience as fear is very close in molecular structure to what we experience as anger. But that molecular activity itself isn't anger. So, the assertion that all we are really experiencing is physical brain activity is accurate. But the key word here is "we". Who is experiencing that molecular activity, interpreting that molecular activity as a childhood memory, or plans for a vacation? That is what the materialist cannot answer without getting into an endless loop.


I completely agree! And in what I said, I was meaning no disrespect to neuroscience. I have had friends saved by neuro-medicine. It was a philosophical point - and one which I think you're actually agreeing with.

interpretation is experienced as the arising of what we call mind.


Here's an interesting thing - the root of the word 'intelligence' is actually 'inter-legere' meaning 'to read between', as in 'reading between the lines'. This would suggest that the act of interpretation is fundamental to the nature of intelligence itself (which I'm sure it is.)
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:07 am

jeeprs wrote:... the act of interpretation is fundamental to the nature of intelligence itself (which I'm sure it is.)


What is fundamental to the nature of interpretation?
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:12 pm

shel wrote:
jeeprs wrote:... the act of interpretation is fundamental to the nature of intelligence itself (which I'm sure it is.)


What is fundamental to the nature of interpretation?


That has already been explained.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:51 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:My understanding is that awareness, you could say, interprets this electric-chemical activity as thoughts, as fear, as memory and so on. that interpretation is experienced as the arising of what we call mind.

This is nonsensical in that so called 'awareness' by itself has no basis to interpret or derive meaning. Co-dependent arising, remember.

For example, when we experience fear, we are actually experiencing molecular activity in the brain. But that molecular activity itself isn't fear. What we experience as fear is very close in molecular structure to what we experience as anger. But that molecular activity itself isn't anger. So, the assertion that all we are really experiencing is physical brain activity is accurate.

This has been repeatedly discussed in this topic. Brain activity is responsive to and completely dependent on sense input.

But the key word here is "we". Who is experiencing that molecular activity, interpreting that molecular activity as a childhood memory, or plans for a vacation? That is what the materialist cannot answer without getting into an endless loop.

By this logic the simple answer is that a sense of self is produced by a particular region of the brain, specifically the right frontal lobe.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:52 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
shel wrote:
jeeprs wrote:... the act of interpretation is fundamental to the nature of intelligence itself (which I'm sure it is.)


What is fundamental to the nature of interpretation?


That has already been explained.
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No it hasn't.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby Alex123 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 6:50 pm

LastLegend wrote:
Alex123 wrote:If creatures didn't have "sense of self" and "egoism" then they would not survive, they would not pass their genes, and we would not be here to discuss this.


Why is survival importance for a chunk of matter?



It is not that it is "important" but if humans and other lifeforms didn't survive - we would not be here to discuss this.


Similar with "why are universal constants the way they are". If they were different, stars and planets would not form, life would be impossible, and we would not be here to talk about it and we would not know it.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby undefineable » Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:33 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
undefineable wrote: Why that set of genes for that re-born awareness?

There is no reason why it isn't totally random.
What is inherited genetically is not awareness

I was making that point in terms of anatta - In itself, awareness won't need to carry 'seeds' from the karma of previous lives if such karma already propelled it to the particular body it's attached to. I've not heard of experiences that would suggest that scenario, although it might spawn a separate (and quite possibly rather pedantic :roll: ) debate.

What I meant to point out is that awareness (or its immediate cause, if you prefer) presumably isn't propelled to its 'new' body at random, and that even if the answer to my question is that it is random, the question still makes logical sense from a solipsistic point of view.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby undefineable » Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:40 pm

Alex123 wrote:"why are universal constants the way they are". If they were different, stars and planets would not form, life would be impossible, and we would not be here to talk about it and we would not know it.

What's to say that non-carbon-based life (which would be sustained by hotter or colder environments than our own) and parallel dimensions (with different cosmological constants to ours, or simply a different series of events) aren't possible? {Also, why couldn't we be somewhere else as a different 'we'? :alien: }
Last edited by undefineable on Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby undefineable » Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:43 pm

Double post; sorry
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:17 am

undefineable wrote: {Also, why couldn't we be somewhere else as a different 'we'? }

Who is to say that you are not?

But any "we" is conditional.
So, any question that resembles something like,
"Why am I me and not somebody else?"
overlooks the conditional arising of the experience,
the conditions in fact defining what that experience is.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby undefineable » Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:09 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
undefineable wrote: {Also, why couldn't we be somewhere else as a different 'we'? }

Who is to say that you are not?

Well I don't think it wouldn't quite be the 'me' me for most of us individually, though I like the Bodhisattva idea of having a large number of separate bodies :alien:

I'm drifting off-topic here, so I've started a separate topic in response to the remainder of this post, Padma; hope you don't mind :) - See "Conditioned awareness?" in " Exploring Buddhism".
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby LastLegend » Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:42 pm

I just came to mind that if one believes in dependent origination, then one will have no problem with rebirth. According to dependent origination, everything arises interdependently. If consciousness has caused to arise, then it will be caused to arise again.
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