Discussion: Philosophy an Art form rather than science

The brain, being isolated inside a dark silent place, can only make “best guesses” about the data it receives from translated and internally transmitted information.

That is where the complication resides. The brain is completely dependent on secondary (processed) information.

I think you’re going too far there. The brain is anything but a dark silent place.

Beyond that there’s a constant interaction with the surrounding environment that gets way too little attention.

This doesn’t deal with brain cells, but it does reveal the breathtaking complexity and nonstop activity that make up all our cells, along with what they create.

So, … how does that different from anything else in the natural world. :wink:

Sorry about that. You are absolutely right. The brain is teeming with data processing. But it does so inside the skull that is a dark silent place and the data the brain does process is from secondary electrochemical streaming in via neurons.

IOW, the brain has no direct interaction with the exterior environment, as Descartes so effectively illustrated with his “brain in a vat”, the brain blindly processing and creating an imagined reality from whatever information is fed into it.

It is not difficult to make the brain “create a wrong reality”. There are all kinds of optical illusions that make the brain see something different than what the data represents. Hence Seth’s identification of “controlled hallucinations” by the brain.

The more I learn about brain processes, the more I can agree with that terminology.

When we can actually do what those pictures show, I’ll accept the reasoning, but meanwhile, it’s a weak analogy. Brains are not computers.

I’m getting a better idea of what CC is saying here. I’m thinking the field of philosophy needs to get clear on what past building blocks need to be thrown out. Descartes has his famous error, but it’s not famous, is it?

Kant went a little crazy near the end, but he also did some rethinking of his own work. That later work is not quoted as much. I would need many hours to back up that statement.

Wittgenstein is impenetrable.

Context is everything:

and another

Your brain doesn’t exist in a zero gravity chamber. The skull is not that thick.

In the real physical world our bodies exist within, the inside of your brain is subjected to all sorts of physical interactions. You can’t philosophize that away, or dismiss as irrelevant.

The brain has no sensory receptors. Just like a computer it only processes electrochemical data
You are a brain in a vat. Even when you hit your head the blow is dampened by the fluid surrounding the brain. Ask a boxer if they feel being knocked out. As a soccer goalie I was hit by a driven ball to the head . Never felt a thing, except I woke up some 20 seconds later.

Facts About the Brain

  1. Multitasking is impossible. When we think we’re multitasking, we’re actually context-switching. That is, we’re quickly switching back-and-forth between different tasks, rather than doing them at the same time. The book Brain Rules explains how detrimental “multitasking” can be: Research shows your error rate goes up 50 percent and it takes you twice as long to do things.
  2. An adult brain weighs about 3 pounds. The cerebrum makes up 85% of the brain’s weight, and the brain makes up about 2% of a human’s body weight. The texture of the brain is like a firm jelly. The heaviest normal human brain weighed 4.43 pounds. It belonged to the Russian Writer Ivan Turgenev. And the smallest brain, just 2.41 pounds, belonged to a woman.
  3. About 75% of the brain is made up of water. This means that dehydration, even as small as 2%, can have a negative effect on brain functions. Dehydration and a loss of sodium and electrolytes can cause acute changes in memory and attention. To prevent any loss of body or brain function, take steps to keep your body properly hydrated.
  4. The human brain will triple its size the first year of life. A two year old baby will have an 80% fully grown brain. It will continue to grow until you’re about 18 years old. It isn’t until about the age of 25 that the human brain reaches full maturity. The human brain is the largest brain of all vertebrates relative to body size.
  5. Headaches are caused by a chemical reaction. Chemical activity in your brain, the nerves or blood vessels surrounding your skull, or the muscles of your head and neck (or some combination of these factors) can play a role in primary headaches. Serotonin is a chemical necessary for communication between nerve cells. When serotonin or estrogen levels change, the result for some is a headache or migraine. Serotonin levels may affect both sexes, while fluctuating estrogen levels affect women only.
  6. The human brain contains approximately one hundred billion neurons. This is about the same as the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy. These neurons are connected by trillions of connections, or synapses. Experts call this a “neuron forest”. Information runs between these neurons in your brain for everything we see, think, or do. These neurons move information at different speeds. The fastest speed for information to pass between neurons is about 250 mph. That being said, neurons only make up 10% of the brain.
  7. Dreams are believed to be a combination of imagination, physiological factors, and neurological factors. The limbic system in the mid-brain deals with emotions in both waking and dreaming and includes the amygdala, which is mostly associated with fear and is especially active during dreams. Dreams are proof that your brain is working even when you are sleeping. The average human has about 4-7 dreams per night.
  8. Short term memory lasts about 20-30 seconds. This has to do with your brain’s capacity for holding small amounts of information in the active mind. The brain keeps this information in an available state for easy access, but only does so for about a minute and a half. Most people hold memory for numbers around 7 seconds, and memory for letters around 9 seconds. In addition, the brain can store up to 7 digits in its working memory. That is why the telephone numbers in the United States are 7 digits long. Learn more about Memory Disorders.
  9. A brain freeze is really a warning signal. Officially called a sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, a brain freeze happens when you eat or drink something that’s too cold. It chills the blood vessels and arteries in the very back of the throat, including the ones that take blood to your brain. These constrict when they’re cold and open back up when they’re warm again, causing the pain in your forehead. This is your brain telling you to stop what you are doing to prevent unwanted changes due to temperature.
  10. The brain can’t feel pain. There are no pain receptors in the brain itself. But the meninges (coverings around the brain), periosteum (coverings on the bones), and the scalp all have pain receptors. Surgery can be done on the brain and technically the brain does not feel that pain.
  11. Your brain is a random thought generator. In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article regarding research about human thoughts per day. The average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before and about 80% are negative.
  12. Your brain uses 20% of the oxygen and blood in your body. Your brain needs a constant supply of oxygen. As little as five minutes without oxygen can cause some brain cells to die, leading to severe brain damage. Also, the harder you think, the more oxygen and fuel your brain will use from your blood – up to 50%.
    Every minute, 750-1,000 milliliters of blood flows through the brain. This is enough to fill a bottle of wine or liter bottle of soda.
  13. Exercise is just as good for your brain as it is for your body
    Aerobic exercise raises your heart rate and increases blood flow to your brain. As your increased breathing pumps more oxygen into your bloodstream, more oxygen is delivered to your brain. This leads to neurogenesis—or the production of neurons—in certain parts of your brain that control memory and thinking. Neurogenesis increases brain volume, and this cognitive reserve is believed to help buffer against the effects of dementia.
    It has been noted that exercise promotes the production of neurotrophins, leading to greater brain plasticity, and therefore, better memory and learning. In addition to neurotrophins, exercise also results in an increase in neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically serotonin and norepinephrine, which boost information processing and mood.
  14. The visual areas of the brain are in the back. The part of your brain responsible for vision, the occipital lobe, is located in the back. This is why if you get banged in the back of your head, you will see stars. The left side of your brain controls the vision on your right side, and vise versa. Your brain also processes sound on the opposite sides of the head.
  15. Brain activity can power a small light bulb. When you are awake, your brain generates about 12-25 watts of electricity – which is enough to power a small light bulb. The brain also works fast. The information going from your arms/legs to your brain travels at a speed of 150-260 miles per hour. The brain consumes glucose from the body to produce this amount of the energy.
  16. Your brain is mostly fat, Consisting of minimum 60% fat, your brain is the fattiest organ in your body. This is why healthy fats, such as omega-3s and omega-6s, are vital for brain and overall body health. Healthy fat helps stabilize the cell walls in the brain. It can also reduce inflammation and helps the immune system function properly.

Okay, but, all the things that send information to the brain ARE getting information from the world. They aren’t disconnected processors. The brain would not have developed if those things weren’t there to be detected. We wouldn’t have survived if those detection devices were terribly wrong. We know they are in error to some to degree, but that doesn’t invalidate our ability to determine what’s true with a high probability.

I agree completely, that is what a few billion years of evolution of greater complexity in higher species, that brought us conscious awareness to begin with

But Beau Lotto clearly explains that all we can agree on is some general features about what we observe, sufficient to come to agreement about our reality.

Did you watch the video? He proves his point in the first few minutes. His audience is divided into three major parts making different “best guesses” of color similarity.

The only section that had it right chose the grey patch because it has no color at all and reflects the same shade regardless of the light source.!

I have previously shown the emotional reaction of people with various degrees of color blindness. Wearing the corrective glasses their experience of reality changed drastically to the point of weeping from emotion. I mean that is drastic. To realise your reality was never what everyone else was experiencing.

I think I watched that one a while ago. Optical illusions just don’t convince me of this “brain in a vat” notion.

A color blind bee probably wouldn’t survive because it wouldn’t find the right flower. Or, maybe it’s more like us and could take social cues and their brain would experience the color differently, but learn the same meaning. A loner species, like moose, might not be able to adapt at all.

None of this indicates we are wrong about how light waves work, or how the eye evolved, or the relationship with electromagnetism or our understanding of the fundamental forces that we interact with.

[quote=“write4u, post:27, topic:8988”]

The brain has no sensory receptors. Just like a computer it only processes electrochemical data
You are a brain in a vat. [/quote]
We can’t say that!
That’s an opinion.

I took a nice long hot shower this morning, we haven’t a clue how those physical interactions are being perceived and processed by the brain itself. But they are happening just the same, and they are impacting the way I’m thinking and feeling in that moment, even if I can’t dissect exactly how.
For example, I do know Hot Showers can become another Sacred Space in that they allow my mind to transcend my physical bounds and flow through time, my growing, aging body, wonderful inside and outside, it’s interactions with people and the real world, traveling through times of my life. Even before that, the me in the womb, where there’s that connection through the umbilical cord to an eternity worth of births and origins. Having a sense of the pageant of evolution, . . .

And I can write the words that convey my memory, but the words will remain meaningless unless you’ve experienced something comparable, something that’s momentarily connected you with the timeless. After all these decades it comes easier for me, and I agree with Beau that context is everything, but I take it to a deeper level than most.

We don’t know enough about the how the brain regulates itself to be able to make your bold statement. Science is full of plain goofy assumptions “boring billion” - “junk DNA” - etc.

Listened to first few minutes of Beau Lotto, sounded like a rerun of Hoffman’s focus on optical illusions. On the one hand he’s mechanically correct, but misses the boat - don’t have time for that diversion.

{Maddy is being very impatient so gotta hit send, I’ll be back, good providence willing.}

Oh, but a bee is so much smarter than that. Not only can it see the color of healthy flowers it can remeber where it found them and tell the hive exactly where the location is, how long it takes to get there, and the time of day so that the other bees can adjust their flight path to account for position of the sun relative to the terrain.

These are insects and have a sophisticated communication system.

Just think how difficult it would be for a human to give directions to another humans about a patch of flowers miles away from your home and then unerringly go there without the help of a compass.

[quote=“citizenschallengev4, post:31, topic:8988”]
“You are a brain in a vat.” ?

We can’t say that!
That’s an opinion.

No, it’s a demonstrable fact. When you are anesthetized, part of the brain becomes unconscious, while the part that controls homeostasis remains subconsciously alert.

Mind, I am not saying that the brain is disconnected from the rest of the body, but it only communicates with the rest of the body via electrochemical information streams along the neurons.

That is why the brain can only make a best guess of what the body’s senses are telling it. This the value of the optical illusions . Each person does in fact experience reality subjectively different. We just don’t know this unless we actually test it. Then the subjective differences become apparent.

But as Anil Seth posits; “when our “controlled hallucinations” agree we call it reality”.

But the brain itself has no senses. You can have a brain operation without anesthesia. The brain itself does not feel pain, it can create the experience of feeling pain, but that is something else.

You over simplify and make too many assumptions. Regarding anesthetizing people, it’s incredibly complex and there are all sorts of nuances, that you give little credit to. Neuroscientists are the first one’s to admit they are still dealing with frontiers of understanding how our brain functions, so simply because we haven’t found, as yet unimagined, sensors and feedback loops to challenge old assumptions, doesn’t mean they aren’t there, and a number of reasons to assume such subsystems probably do exist.

Your words speak for themselves.
I’m trying to make a point about the need for a deeper appreciation for the Human Mindscape ~ Physical Reality divide.

I’m also noticing with increasingly clarity all the time (having finished Dennett’s book and gotten most the way through Carrier’s book is helping), how much our academic thinking is still strapped within Abrahamic Self-centered assumptions. Part of that absolute self-obsession, is an undercurrent that somehow reality needs to prove itself to our intellect, before we give it, it’s due.

Just as importantly is an inability to image ourselves outside of the Physical Reality, leaving most to unthinkingly assume it’s all about us.

For instance W4U, our recent exchange, I said it’s way too simplistic to think of the brain in a vat totally disconnected from the physical world, except for neural pathways, - I said our brains are experiencing our world on more levels than simply the data our basic senses (fun trivia question: How many senses do humans actually possess?) are feeding it.

You dismiss that out of hand, ‘there’s no evidence for any such direct connects.’ Are you sure about that? Then you produce your 16 Theses that seemingly settle the matter then dismiss the idea outright.

I find that childish, and that if there’s one thing science has consistently shown us is that reality is always vastly more complex and interconnected that we are capable of imaging. It’s those kinds of pronouncements that have gotten me to think of us, expecting the universe to prove itself to us.


Then there’s this curious matter of all those talking geniuses using human perception and optical illusions as a jumping off point for discussing the nature of reality itself.
It’s ludicrous, it’s absolutely incompatible with any rational understanding/acceptance/appreciation of evolution and us being a product of that evolution unfolding upon this planet. Yet, the meme seems to be growing in leaps and bounds.


This is exactly what I mean about being trapped within our Human Mindscapes.
Sure, sure evolution and Physical Reality get an occasional nod, but it never seems to get past postcard reality stage. There’s no real appreciation for the living fact of us being created by Earth, via Evolution unfolding upon this spectacular planet, through deep time, billions of years worth, unfolding one day at a time.

It comes through constantly in big and small way.

For instance this Darwin’s Dangerous Idea; namely that Natural Selection is a mindless, mechanical and algorithmic process, seem very contrived to begin with because it missed the fact of evolution actually happening.

Key concept: You can’t understand an organism, or creature, or organization, without also understanding the environment it exists within.

This is because perception and consciousness and accumulating change and evolution is a nonstop dynamic dance/interaction between creatures and circumstance. That is the foundation upon which everything else builds. Our assigned boundaries blur in real life unfolding over deep time.

Dennett’s book “Darwin Danger Idea” isn’t about evolution unfolding upon this Earth, it’s about the human intellect pursuing an intellectual challenge, which is fine, until everyone assumes it’s about the title and the story of Earth’s Evolution, it is not. Though his final chapter was worth the listening because
Dennett does bring things back down to Earth a bit. If still from a very human-centric perspective …

We do the best with what we have, we must accept that our blind spots, don’t mean natural processes aren’t smarter, more complex, and mysterious than we currently are able to understand. So we might as well at least accept the fundamental fact that we’re always playing catch up and reality/geology/biology have no need to prove themselves to us.

I don’t make this stuff up. This is directly gleaned from Stuart Hameroff who is a practicing anesthesiologist and ought to know what he is talking about.
I really recommend you revisit Hameroff’s short lecture where he describes an abbreviated explanation of how anesthesia works.

Note that anesthetics bind directly to microtubules and cause unconsciousness while leaving brain function unimpaired.

If that does not suggest a direct connection between microtubules and consciousness, I can’t begin to imagine a better argument.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying scientists shouldn’t be striving to define it in those way, if that’s where their thinking and evidence is taking them. I’m just saying, keep it in perspective - and that exactly what is not happening most of the time.

Come on now, you’re not listening.


I know that, I’m not unfamiliar with it.
I’m not disputing Hameroff, he’s a great scientist who knows a great many things and has much to teach. He doesn’t know everything. And the history of science is what it is.

Besides, that is not what I’m discussing here!

But, I don’t feel like repeating myself, read the previous comment again.

What I wrote is not even a proposition, it’s a simple fact, just as your’s, you just seem to want to believe your fact encompasses everything.

I don’t dismiss the “hard questions”. I would not know how to formulate them. Do you know how to formulate the “hard questions”?

I prefer to work with “hard facts” as Tegmark recommends.
I also completely agree with Tegmark that we have all the necessary ingredients for consciousness inside us. It is a “hard fact” else we would not be conscious.

I am not looking for a magical outside agency, regardless how naturalistic the concept may be. IMO, that borders on religion.

I know that evolution by natural selection is a stochastic process. But the process already starts with chemical interactions and molecular assemblies. (Hazen).

Please do not underestimate my awe and wonder about the majesty of the universe and the incredible creative processes it has spawned over time. It is truly breathtaking, but it isn’t magical. It is all based on logical principles, that are eventually discoverable by logical minds.

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Nothing I’m saying has anything to do with magical.
The heat of a hot shower permeating your skull isn’t a magical thing.
(I’m saying there are rippling interactions we don’t fully recognize.)

Heck scientists used to say with conviction that Gray Matter did nothing.

You’re implying we’ve figured it all out. We haven’t.
You’re acting as if, if we haven’t formulated the understanding, there’s nothing there to understanding.

That’s what I’m objecting to.

You don’t ever seem to recognize or at least can’t even acknowledge how totally ego-centric our narratives are.

No I go by hard facts. Surgeons know that you can have brain surgery without needing anesthesia. The brain has no sensors, it cannot feel or see or hear anything, in and of itself. That “information” comes from our sensors like eyes, ears, nerves, nose.

Without data the brain cannot function and it knows that! That is why it makes up its own reality from memory, ie. it begins to hallucinate uncontrollably when it is deprived of data for even a short time.
I believe that’s why we dream (hallucinate during sleep). There is very little incoming data and the brain makes up its own reality.
Sometimes that uncontrolled hullucinatory dream is not pleasant and then we call it a nightmare.

From data comes understanding. The more data the better it is .
OTOH, too much data at once and the brain gets overwhelmed and starts becoming selective in what it considers useful. But we know from experience that what the brain considers useful may not necessarily be an exact representation of reality as in optical illusions.

We speak of multi-tasking in computers, but the brain is unable to multitask, because it does not function strictly from external data, but must also compare incoming data with stored data in memory (controlled hallucination). It can do this only chronologically unable to process differently oriented date simultaneously

As Roger Antonsen posits; “you must look at things from as many perspectives as possible to gain full understanding of what it is you’re looking at”.
Without details, you can never fully understand reality and become stuck in your own world of make-believe.
When you have examined something from all possible perspectives, that’s when you have full understanding.

That’s why in total sensory deprivation the brain goes mad within a very short time. It needs DATA and cannot get it by itself.

That is why Descartes posted the analogy of a “brain in a vat”. Without data the brain is a pink lump, sitting there, wondering.

You should agree with me that the brain needs feedback from the entire body to function properly in context of the human “mindscape”

Of course we are part of the universe, but that only pertains to its universal laws. The rest is purely local (earth) as you have posited several times and I agree.

You’re still missing the point

STOP!
Think about what you are saying there.

… an example of firmly entrenched within an ego-centric outlook, within our human mindscape.

What I’m talking about is a transcendent awareness of Physical Reality as a real thing slightly beyond our human minds ability to fulling grasp.

You bring up these experts as though they are the last word, when the science has been one mind wrenching new insight and surprise after another. I don’t understand where that rock solid certitude in current facts comes from.

And don’t twist this around - I’m all for collecting facts and allowing the facts to drive our understanding - The thing is I know that too many over state their facts, and are too generous with their conclusions.

This blind spot makes it impossible to fully appreciate evolution or how intimately inwoven we (and all we are) are with our environments.

The Abrahamic ego-centric perspective sees us humans as on top of this reality,
rather than an out-growth of this reality. The later being the outlook I’m increasingly embodying, and trying to share with this Earth Centrist conception of mine.


Along with an appreciation that there are layers to this physical reality, especially in the biological realm, that we only dimly appreciate at this point, with lots more learning and surprises ahead.