Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Thought Therefore I Were

With the tragic and sad demise, the other day, of Natasha Richardson, to a simple knock on the head, ....(The UK is very sad today, as the Redgrave Family , especially to the theatre-goers amongst us who have grown up with them, are regarded as a kind of dynastic "Royalty ")... it highlighted again the soft and delicate nature of the grey cells humming away in our noggins.

It also by way of initial conversation with my father, re-ignited the age old debate in our family, about the nature of the brain., but more specifically the Mind.

In my College and early working life I worked extensively in Micro-Pathology, and even all those years ago we were adept at using Liquid Nitrogen to freeze cancer cells and then at a later date sometimes years later....unfreeze them and use them, with all their capabilities still intact...

I got as far as thinking that, if you are frozen, you are not dead, neither are you alive, but that there is a third state of bio-thesis.

Over the years my father, took to railing against any rich person, who showed up in the news saying that they wanted to be frozen before they die, if they were terminally ill, in hope that in the future , science would have found a cure to whatever was ailing them.

His main plank of argument was that they may well be able to be unfrozen, but that they would have lost their mind, or who they were. as he figured the mind is sepa
rate from all the other functions, that our brain is geared to do, with its highly tuned network of nerves and sensors all over out body.

The problem is, that of all the things we have debated...this is always the one thing..(.other than what happens after death... which in a way is connected with the "is the mind separate, and does it float off to inhabit something else theorem " )...that I never successfully have an opinion on, because I've never worked out myself, if the mind is separate from the main body... or whether the lovely thinking that I do... is just a by product of having a wonderfully developed brain. The former would mean that my father could be right... whereas the latter, if correct, would mean that when we die then everything just goes as the same nothing as before we were born... i.e.: no wandering about in fluffy clouds with harps.

Often when I fly back from America, especially right across America... it takes several days, to get my head straight... and while I kind of know its jet lag, it does feel sometimes as if you've left your mind behind travelling at speed, and it finally catches you up, coming back on its tiny connecting piece of elastic.

I'm not even sure why I am even typing this out......but I just thought I'd throw it out into the KMSA forum, ( as it is what we sort of invented the whole thing for..) ..and wondering if any knights or ladies out there, knew of any of the latest essays, thoughts, or books on the subject......any web sites you know of, to save hours of time trawling around in the ever growing heap of nonsense online.

Preferably layman ones...and also ones that don't start simply heaping it all on God and such-like... tho I realise that might be a trap... and indeed the mind is the voice of god etc etc... I am more concerned at the moment with the simple detached or connected nature of the mind and the brain. ..ergo is the brain just a warm host for this thing or generating it.

There.... you can tell I have just been working hard for 12 hours straight, and that all I want to do now I am back off the road is just blob in front of the puter and type. and type and type...

Its just my mind catching up... and of course feeling sad for the Redgraves.

Sir Dayvd ( who does in fact need a beer ) of Oxfordshire


Sir Bowie of Greenbriar (a.k.a. David A. Kuhn) said...

Sir Dayvd,

I just realized how little I get out in this world. Who is Natasha Richardson?


Very mindful blog. I don't know if this is a site that might further your research, but it does seem to hit on "brain" and "nature" --

It's the Center for the Study of the Mind in Nature:

The overarching goal is to understand the normative dimensions of the human mind in terms that allow us to see them as integrated parts of the natural world.

In April they are hosting Semantics and Philosophy in Europe

Have fun!

Sir Bowie "mindless" of Greenbriar

Anonymous said...

I have no thoughts to share on the nature of the brain after death other than energy cannot be destroyed only changed. I'm not a life after death guy, but I do believe in a connective energy (without wanting to sound "new age"). I want to believe that not all is lost. I tend to think it is human arrogance to insist that there must be more to life then this. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, to steal an illustration.

As for Natasha Richardson, I was very saddened and that doesn't happen much learning of the demise of many current Hollywood types. She just seemed so lovely a person. On top of that it was just so senseless. It wasn't a drug overdose or other such idiotic, self indulgent reason. She fell. On a bunny slope. There were people around. She just didn't get proper medical treatment soon enough. Probably laughed off her own silliness for falling. But she perfectly illustrates how tenuous life is. I believe that she had adopted a policy of living life to the fullest after her husband's serious motorcycle accident. So hopefully, what time she had here she did enjoy. She at least did something she loved to do.

I realize that people die everyday and under sadder and at least as sudden circumstances (car wreaks). Because she has been in movies, we seem to "know" her, which makes it personal. For the rest of the world, life will go on. Or it won't.

Sir James (of do as I say, not as I do) of Taylor

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bowie and James for your input... Bowie, I have sent you a short biog of Tasha and her Acting family... have a fun day out with Suzanne on her Birthday..yay..

Sir James... I'm pretty much with you in my general thoughts... I always like approaching these last bastions of thinking... and try and give them names and find out what the great thinkers and brains of our history have come up with...

Researching, i have nailed it down to two names Dualism and Monism

Dualism and monism are the two major schools of thought that attempt to resolve the mind-body problem.

Dualism is the position that mind and body are in some way separate from each other. It can be traced back to Plato, Aristotle and the Samkhya and Yoga schools of Hindu philosophy, but it was most precisely formulated by René Descartes in the 17th century.

Substance dualists argue that the mind is an independently existing substance, whereas Property dualists maintain that the mind is a group of independent properties that emerge from and cannot be reduced to the brain, but that it is not a distinct substance.

Monism is the position that mind and body are not physiologically and ontologically distinct kinds of entities.

This view was first advocated in Western Philosophy by Parmenides in the 5th Century BC and was later espoused by the 17th Century rationalist Baruch Spinoza. According to Spinoza's dual-aspect theory, mind and body are two aspects of an underlying reality which he variously described as "Nature" or "God".

Physicalists argue that only the entities postulated by physical theory exist, and that the mind will eventually be explained in terms of these entities as physical theory continues to evolve.

Idealists maintain that the mind is all that exists and that the external world is either mental itself, or an illusion created by the mind.

Neutral monists adhere to the position that perceived things in the world can be regarded as either physical or mental depending on whether one is interested in their relationship to other things in the world or their relationship to the perceiver.

For example, a red spot on a wall is physical in its dependence on the wall and the pigment of which it is made, but it is mental in so far as its perceived redness depends on the workings of the visual system.

Unlike dual-aspect theory, neutral monism does not posit a more fundamental substance of which mind and body are aspects. The most common monisms in the 20th and 21st centuries have all been variations of physicalism; these positions include behaviorism, the type identity theory, anomalous monism and functionalism.

Many modern philosophers of mind adopt either a reductive or non-reductive physicalist position, maintaining in their different ways that the mind is not something separate from the body.

Reductive physicalists assert that all mental states and properties will eventually be explained by scientific accounts of physiological processes and states.

Non-reductive physicalists argue that although the brain is all there is to the mind, the predicates and vocabulary used in mental descriptions and explanations are indispensable, and cannot be reduced to the language and lower-level explanations of physical science.

Continued neuroscientific progress has helped to clarify some of these issues. However, they are far from having been resolved, and modern philosophers of mind continue to ask how the subjective qualities and the intentionality (aboutness) of mental states and properties can be explained in naturalistic terms.

well i need some more of that red dot on the wall stuff to think about... so i am off out on the Balcony with a glass of beer and have a bit of Mano a Mono

Sir dayvd (The mind-full ) of Oxenfordshireness

Sir Hook of Warrick aka "David K Wells" said...

OK knights...time for more input, as my computer, or brain, would say. That's right! Input! I believe that the brain is part of our physical body, but it is also the host of our thoughts, which controls our supernatural soul.

In today's terms, the brain is the hardware waiting for software input to make it work. Like my computer, my mind (software) makes my brain (computer) function. I'm only as smart as my software and continueing updates allow. That's why it's important to feed the brain with as much input as possible.

When the computer harware body crashes the software data is still there. It must be recovered and transfered to a new host. Hindu's would call this reincarnation. Buddhist's would call this Nirvana. Christians and Islam call this heaven.

Make no mistake...something does happen after death! Another fact is that we'll all get our turn to find out what that is. Sir James is can't be destroyed, but I will differ with him on the theroy that a cigar is just a cigar.

When the stoic stoogie encounters the energy of fire it is transformed. So are we when we encounter the energy of life and death.

Sir Hook the Divine Cigar Smoker of Warrick

Anonymous said...

uh huh... so what you are thinking there H is the mind IS seperate from the brain, ie: i get my software in a box from a shop, and run it in my computer, instead of the computer self generating the software.. so that would make you a dualist then... as the brain, you say, is hosting the mind.

.... i'm still tootling around on the Monist the Brain self generates the mind..., as i'm thinking the mind develops as the brain develops from birth,,.. otherwise we are suggesting an outside force is adding the software when the juvenille brain is ready...but at what age...? How?
I can see that the software would appear to remain when the hardware is dead... but that only works if all computers run on the same system... that the software could be used elsewhere.. but it seems to me that all human's despite their similarities are infinitely unique in the mind just like fingerprints...
I'm with the Energy never ever goes missing tho.

D ( working on it ) of O

Sir Hook of Warrick aka "David K Wells" said...

In my scenario, the brain is formed in the womb ready to receive software from day one. In fact in my many dealings with OB's and NICU's, it is a documented fact that the baby when born already knows the sound of its mother, her smell and taste. The tiny computer is already receptive to its input and generating output.

We are also working on developing sign language with infants, much as we do with the apes, for them to communicate before their speech develops. It's called Signing Times. It has also been proven that these babies develop speech earlier and have a larger vocabulary.

Again, input. Input is the driver of our brain, that generates our mind, which for better or worse controls our actions.

You are correct that despite our similarities we are all unique...but that is the beauty of the ultimate creative force. There are no limits to the unlimited. Just think what we could be when we learn to connect the 80+% of our brain that we never use?

Perhaps that's when we evolve out of bodies into our true spiritual form...or maybe that is what happens at death...the walls come tumbling down!

I still believe that our brains do have certain physical and chemical limitations, which vary by, sociopaths, manic-depressives, down syndrome, women at menopause, etc.; however, they still are receptive to input...and the more input the better.

There comes that time when computers must be rebooted...that's when I retreat to silence in a Chapel, meditate, take a walk in the woods, lay in bed and listen to the breath of the Divine flowing in and out of my imperfect hardware casing.

I'm not afraid of dying...especially after nearly doing so four times in my life already. In fact, I'm looking forward to taking that what our limited minds describe as the final journey. Is it?!

Sir Hook the Spiritual Explorer and Owner of a Divine Finger Print of Warrick

Anonymous said...

My head hurts. I have a piece of brain lodge in my head.

The simple truth is, if their is "life after death" we will know it. If death is like a deep sleep, we won't. Unfortunately it takes death to know it or not know it as the case may be. As often as I have looked forward to death, I really don't want to die. I just want to be happy, here and now. Live in the moment.

Last night I pulled out "The Meaning of Life" DVD to get the real answers.

Sir James (I'm still using my liver) Taylor

Sir Hook of Warrick aka "David K Wells" said...

One thin Mint for Misuer? Just give me a bucket list!

Sir Hook the Glutton of Life of Warrick

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.