Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Neuroscience tried wholly embracing Darwin's horrid doubt - but then the brain got away - Denyse O'Leary

Is there a good reason to believe that the human mind is and must be a fully natural object? Note: The Science Fictions – human evolution series is here.The cosmology series is here, and the origin of life series here.    

  Science-Fictions-square.gif Darwin’s “horrid doubt”: The mind: Late in life, Darwin wrote,
But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?
Ironically, while Darwin may have doubted the fully naturalized mind and felt horrid about it, most of his latter-day supporters believe and feel good. And, on its own terms, their faith cannot be disconfirmed. They propose a variety of fully natural (material) explanations of the mind, that most immaterial of entities, the mind; for example:
  • The brain randomly generates illusions that self-organize as a "mind." Behavior is thus better accounted for by the study of neurons (neuroscience) than the study of the illusory "mind."
  • Our hominoid ancestors passed on hypothetical genes via natural selection acting on random mutation. These claimed (not demonstrated) genes result in our attitudes, values, beliefs, and behavior -- mistakenly seen as the outcome of thought processes (evolutionary psychology).
While their explanations can rarely be disconfirmed when using the naturalists' own rules,  as we shall see, they can, of course, be dissected, falsified, and sometimes just plain sent up on the basis of evidence and reason, as here and throughout the series this fall.

  Science-Fictions-square.gif Neuroscience tried wholly embracing naturalism, but then the brain got away
Both the United States and the European Union are throwing billions of dollars at new projects to map the human brain. Yet many neuroscientists worry that more is promised than can be performed. For one thing, fMRI (brain imaging) shows which brain areas have high oxygen levels when a person is thinking something. It simply cannot tell us what people are thinking, because many brain centers are active and those that are active may be activated for many reasons. Each brain is unique so data from studies must be averaged. But thoughts are not averaged; they belong to the individual.
Two hundred and fifty scientists are protesting the European Human Brain Project on the grounds that a proposed computer simulation isn't realistic for understanding brain function. Indeed, the main practical effect of more and better neuroscience has been -- not to cement -- but to blow up conventional neuroscience assumptions and pop legends: More.
Note: The Science Fictions – human evolution series is here.The cosmology series is here, and the origin of life series here. O’Leary for News

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Again, Denyse, I've been unable to get around all your links. However, I continue to be enlightened by what I have read. I appreciate your separating the wheat from the chaff of what passes for science in many quarters, nowadays. ~~+~~

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