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Folkert Gorter
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    “We know we are more than just neurons firing. Or, at least we think we are, while the neurons are firing.”
    Is the mind simply an epiphenomenon created by the firing of a lot of neurons in our meat-brain? I do think that what we call the experience of self-awareness, consciousness, sentience or mind is a direct result of (unrelated) neuro-activity in the brain, but that doesn't mean that the phenomenon isn't actually real, or that it necessarily needs the meat it is currently inhabiting in order to arise. I think it's simply a direct and gorgeous result of insanely complex and beautiful emerging complexity, like everything else.

    The behaviour of a flock of birds has nothing to do with the activity of the individual bird itself, which is the whole theory of emergence—the process of complex pattern formation from simpler rules.
    An emergent behaviour or emergent property can appear when a number of simple entities (agents) operate in an environment, forming more complex behaviours as a collective. (Wikipedia)

    Funny thing is that I can only "think" this because of the phenomenon itself...crazy times.
    Via the Huge Entity:
    Human consciousness... can be best understood as the operation of a... virtual machine implemented in the parallel architecture of a brain that was not designed for any such activities. The powers of this virtual machine vastly enhance the underlying powers of the organic hardware on which is runs.
    Daniel Dennett—Consciousness Explained


    Video: A Glorious Piece of Meat—An Overture on Consciousness



    Sat, Jul 14, 2007  Permanent link
    Categories: consciousness, brain, emergence
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    andrewohlmann     Sun, Apr 29, 2007  Permanent link
    I think you should explain why a "mind" doesn't need the brain to arise. Are you thinking in purely transcendental terms (saying the mind is something supernatural, like a soul), or are you saying that a mind can arise from things other than brains (say, the entire earth [see: Gaia Hypothesis] has a mind, or a community of plankton has a mind).
    folkert     Sun, Apr 29, 2007  Permanent link
    Yes, and yes. Even though a soul is nothing "supernatural" (there's no use for that word I think), it's another form of organized complexity. I would not use the term "transcendental" in this context either simply because people relate it to the spiritual realm in stead of its purely practical, non-physical nature. I am saying that mind can arise from other systems, yes—Gaia, plankton, the human species, the solar system, any of them.
    andrewohlmann     Sun, Apr 29, 2007  Permanent link
    Ah, that clears it up, I think.

    Do you think it's worth differentiating between "hive" minds and ones based in a brain?

    I feel fairly sure that ones that arise from non-brain systems have any sort of consciousness. To say that the Earth is self-aware in any fashion strikes me as just a little bit too new-agey (Reading through the Gaia Hypothesis article, it looks like even most proponents of that hypothesis believe the same).
    folkert     Mon, Apr 30, 2007  Permanent link
    Yes it's probably preposterous to think that the Earth would have a consciousness similar to our own. Its system and environment (the solar system and home-galaxy) are so infinitely more complex than our own (the brain), it would have to be incomprehensibly more advanced than our so-called self-awareness. But it seems obvious to me that the Earth is part of the same process (on a vastly different scale) that we are part of.
    alborz     Mon, Apr 30, 2007  Permanent link
    I think a problem that arises in discussions like this is that the words we use to express them work on certain presuppositions. To say the solar system has a "mind"...feels preposterous because "mind" (or self-consciousness/awarenes, etc.) immediately conjures up our own experience of reality through our own neural activity.

    However, to say that the elements that make up the solar system interact with each other in a highly complex manner as does the elements in our brain....that kinda makes perfect sense and feels irrefutable rather than preposterous. (Also, the elements in our brain are part of the elements of the solar system.)

    So I think basically, no the solar system does not have a mind. Because "mind" refers to the interactions within the human (or animal) brain.
    folkert     Mon, Apr 30, 2007  Permanent link
    Good points. On a side note, do you think that self-awareness would be a feature that is necessary for what we are calling mind here?
    alborz     Tue, May 1, 2007  Permanent link
    I guess so, right? At least in humans. (Are babies self-aware?) It's not necessary in other animals though.
    Xarene     Fri, May 25, 2007  Permanent link
    My comment started getting too long so I just made it an entry... What is I?
     
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