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Is the mind separate from the physical brain

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Showing 1-25 of 193 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Nov 2012 12:44:02 GMT
This is question to those that believe it is. This topic has been touched on in other threads but skirted around rather.

If the the mind is separate and non-physical, then how does it interact with the physical brain?

We can determine that physical processes in the brain are involved in some, if not all, higher level functions (as shown through scanning technolgies and from the observed effects of trauma and drugs); so which aspects of these high level functions (abstract thought, personality, morality etc) are encapsulated in the physcial and which in the non-physical.

And please remember to say how you have determined your answer.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 13:13:48 GMT
i'm trying to make my mind up on this one or am i making up my mind? i'll have to have a think about it!

Posted on 15 Nov 2012 13:21:53 GMT
What causes dreams? Cus I certianly did not like the one I had last night and I know for sure that I personally didn't think it.

Posted on 15 Nov 2012 13:30:19 GMT
In the creation of ourselves - humans that is- there may well be a somewhere along the road that our spirit,unconscions mind, unconscious energy , call it what you like merged with out physical body. Our physical body without the spiritual part just a lump of meat with bones giving it some shape. How did they merge ? did the spirit come first ( i suspect it did) and somehow (don't ask me how) moved into a woman's womb then became a human. We then develop till our physical body is finished. The spirit part of our our existance leaves its body to go to a spiritual dimension. It then returns to another womb sometime in the future then takes of on another human adventure trying to learn from past live mistakes and make them a better person in this life. Just a thought.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 13:35:31 GMT
G. Heron says:
John Rawlinson

You raise some interesting questions that as you point out have been skirted around.
The idea of a mind being separate from the brain also seems linked to the idea of a soul that survives physical death, since obviously after death the brain rapidly decays.

WWI saw a great advancement in out understanding of the brain as sugeons operating on soldiers with head injuries soon found out that injuries to one part of the brain might result in memory problems , while an injury to another part would usually cause problems with sight, etc. So it became clear that some functions of the brain were located in particular portions of the brain and as modern technology has advanced we can now monitor the brain in action and start to see what parts of the brain are active while an individual is engaged on a number of different types of tasks.

I cannot certain that there is no separate mind but f there is I would like to know what it is doing , how it interfaces with the physical brain and does it store memory and if so how? What is the point of meeting your loved ones in heaven if you don't remember them?

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 13:38:09 GMT
G. Heron says:
Mr R Laing

You don't seem to give any reason for someone to believe in the existence of the 'spirit/mind'. I believe in the brain because I have seen it, why should I believe in the spirit/mind?

Posted on 15 Nov 2012 13:38:24 GMT

Posted on 15 Nov 2012 13:47:14 GMT
Hello all,
good to see such a quick response to what i would describe as my badly punctuated thoughts. It's probably something to do with the glass or 2 of red wine i had before writing it. My apologies. however, can i try and make amends by suggesting you read the book, just recentlly released called
Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife
the Writer is Eban Alexander

Don't be put of by the title it will give fresh insight into the subject you are interested in. I'm 64 year's of age and have no fear of death and after reading his book allows me to think that lying in my deathbed may not be a depressing situation for me.
Suggest you read it and see what you think.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 13:50:57 GMT

"What is the point of meeting your loved ones in heaven if you don't remember them? "

And that also raises the interesting question of whether it is the physical or non-physical that is affected by disease. For example, an Alzeimer's victims undergo severe personality changes - which personality would reach heaven?

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 13:58:55 GMT
Last edited by the author on 15 Nov 2012 14:07:12 GMT
hie Mr Heron,
I don't need to defend my thoughts or opinions. I give them - you think about them and either accept them or not - after i give them you do what you want with them. However, the more I research, the more i think about it the more i inclined to think the mind, consciousness, spirit call it what you like is a separate thing from the brain altogether. If the brain is damaged it as you pointed regarding the soldiers then there is no doubt you are correct in saying that various areas of consciouness will be mixed up to various degrees due to the physical damage. And this is my point. The brain may well be compared to a hard drive on a computer. You damage the hardare(brain) and the software (conscious mind, spiritual mind whatever) will through out wobblers. Myself - I believe you split the conscious mind (what we learn from day 1 of our existance) and the unconscious mind (the spiritual part of our existence) when the brain dies you loose all memories of the conscious mind. however the unconscious mind, don't ask me what it contains - because i simply have no idea. Howeve that part move over to a spiritual dimension and awaits recll to a future physicla live.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 14:34:32 GMT
G. Heron says:
Mr R. Laing

"I'm 64 year's of age and have no fear of death and after reading his book allows me to think that lying in my deathbed may not be a depressing situation for me."

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 14:37:10 GMT
G. Heron says:
Mr R Laing

I agree that you don't need to defend your thoughts and opinions but perhaps you could explain in more detail how you arrived at them?

Posted on 15 Nov 2012 14:51:03 GMT
I would, but i have a previous appointment, which has the purpose of trying for the umpteenth time to enter the spirit/unconscious world - call it what you lile - via various processes, based on different types of medidation accompanied by - a glass of wine (which i have already had) and low rythm repatitive music. As i said have never achieved the spririt world - but what you do get is a fantastic feeling of tranquility and I have no doubt that tonight I will have very unusual dreams will people from 30 to 40 years appearing in them. The dreams all a bit jumbled but i get the feeling that the more i do the more likely i will reach a very positive conclusion ( what ever that may be)

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 14:55:15 GMT
Tom M says:
Hi richard

That's exactly the point. Neurology cannot even ask the question coherently as should be obvious. Folks are loathe to leave the comfort zone of the sensory and actually engage their intellectual capacities which NO ONE has tied to the physical. We are fundamental, conscious , free-willed intelllectual and not just sensate beings. Intellect is of a higher order.

How can this be seen clearly? How many people think that electrons are 'about 'something. How many peopole think that molecules have hopes and dreams.

This is all just part and parcel with the radical intellectual disconnect brought about by David Hume's sloppy thinking. It's very easy to make fatal mistakes in one's starting premises and go through life insisting it can't be understood.

David Crean O.P. who teaches philosophy addresses these points very well in God is No Delusion: A Refutation of Richard Dawkins which is an excellent little primer on how to approach these issues.

If mental action is not spiritual , but only physical, then thought must itself be either material or a property of matter. Crean hauls us back to common sense and sanity on this point. Electrons, most of us believe for excellent reasons , cannot be 'about' anything. It's amazing how easily we are tripped up on such issues.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 14:58:46 GMT
Tom M says:

Aristotle knew that when people got knocked on the head or drunk they tended to talk stupid for a while. Increasingly particular material descriptions ,(and I would cite Wilder Penfield who pretty much was the first to map the brain) , don't find 'thoughts' and cannot in principle.

Once again we are employing a magical view of neurons and neurology and of matter of course, the last superstition.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 15:04:36 GMT
Tom M says:

Whose works or arguments have you read on the existence of the free will or of the quite obviously radically different nature of thought from sensation.

The very phrase 'abstract' thought speaks to this. I have myself in these pages addressed the issue of universals and their employment in human cognition coupled with the fact that sensation is always and necessarily limited to the particular intity and not universal.

What argument have you ever presented dealing with these well known facts.

These facts by the way underly our understanding of human rights, agencey and responsibility.

It is issues like this in particular that makes me find the uninformed and nonsensical materialism of Dawkins and the 'new' atheists so ridiculous and absurd. Electrons are just electrons. Carbon is just carbon. It does what carbon does and isn't 'about' anything.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 15:09:57 GMT
Tom M says:

Your question about alzeimers begs the question. It is only a problem if the brain is the only source, and nut just the instrument of the person.

This is the problem with materialism, one cannot even say 'my' brain coherently. And there is not one single good reason to. Not one.

Like a radio, the alzeimer's sufferer, or drunk, has indeed lost his ability to transmit. But this does not mean that the person is gone. We see that clearly when symptoms subside or when he sobers up.

That the radio speaker wire is broken and delivers only static or silence, does not mean that there are no waves being transmitted.

Your model, assumes a generator not a radio.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 15:12:12 GMT
G. Heron says:
Tom M

"and actually engage their intellectual capacities which NO ONE has tied to the physical."

Try removing someone's brain and see if their intellectual capacity increases or decreases, this may suggest that it is tied to the physical.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 15:14:42 GMT
Tom M says:
Hi R Laing

There is longstanding evidence of the same kind that defends science and indeed scientific evidence for the human soul as enjoying non-material faculties of intellect and the concommitant free will appropriate to a knowing creature.

Of course anybody who holds you to defending your case presupposes this freedom implicitly as we all do. Most people's concepts are jumbled with a really terrible and philosophically absurd scientism. It's joke material.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 15:23:18 GMT
Last edited by the author on 15 Nov 2012 15:25:42 GMT
Tom M says:
Not at all Gary. You are assuming not as reason and experience and evidence suggests that you enjoy a radical freedom and indeed commanding mastery over your body, but that you are ONLY an odd concoction of physical bits.

The senses do indeed provide the means by which our intellects become aware of the world and its universal principles.

Intellect, not sensation arrives at the universals. Another word for universals is 'words'. They speak to the formal and intelligible content of reality that science assumes.

The issue here is that your habit of thought just continuously rerouts issues without distinguishing between the sensing - imaging power, and the intellectual power that deals with intelligibility and how the sensed bits are ordered as we study them in the natural sciences and philosophy.

You are already certain that electrons aren't 'about' anything. You know this. You have a residual fear that somehow carbon and sodium and electrons in larger numbers 'might' be 'about' something.

But of course this is just a silly fear. Sensations and electrons are about this particular physical event. The intellectual is about the universal.

This is why you cannot 'imagine' the principles of triangularity or make sense of their existence as Rd could not. This is true of ANY definition.

You acknowledge this every time you think or use those things we call words.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 15:29:29 GMT
you do realise i was just playing with words don't you?

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 15:36:37 GMT

The point I made about Alzeimers is the effect on personality - I saw my Grandfather go from being a gentle and well mannered man to a rude and abusive one. Would you suggest that ones personality is encapsulated in the physical or the non-physical - if the non-physical then how is the physical able to change it so drastically? - to take your analogy; it would be like a faulty speaker wire turning Beethoven into the Sex Pistols.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 15:37:09 GMT

That's what he does...

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 15:50:09 GMT
G. Heron says:
Tom M

Are you arguing that my ability to use and understand words indicates that I must have an intellect based not on the physical processes of the brain but in some non physical process which cannot be observed and which interfaces with my physical brain in a way that cannot be observed via a mechanism that is not understood?

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 15:54:24 GMT
Tom M says:
That's a pretty good analogy John and a funny one too. That's about it. Your poor grandfather, and a good number of us will be come significantly disoriented. Our intellectual and moral compass will be spinning as the breakdown of the physical 'radar' or magnetic north disappears.

We can no longer recognize the person we love, but we know it is the same person.

As I wrote earlier, this has always been known. Get drunk.. or add some material element like alcohol or dope, and you get dopey.

Punch a person in the nose and the pain blinds us to intellectual function. Become sexually aroused and we forget the meaning of sexuality and love.

These are all truisms of the human condition and not new scientific revelations. I don't care how many pieces of sodium are in my brain.

It will remain 'MY' brain. You will remain you, a meaningless term under physicalism for virtually every cell in your body is not the same one you started with. What happened to 'you'?

Materialism (though only held by a small percentage in any casee) is breaking down precisely because of its inadequacies and the frankly superstitious belief that somehow electrons aren' just electrons, but are 'about' something. Goofy talk.

I think that if one wants to find a model, the broken wire in a radio or broken antenna is a pretty good one. All in all alzeimer's is a pretty torturous path, so you and yours have my condolences for the great loss you suffer.

I of course have no problem with physical determinism at the level of classical physics or epistemic indeterminism at the quantum level, and am thrilled with neuroscience and medicine , nanotechnology and the like, but at the end of the day as Crean points out so well, we all know that "electrons aren't 'about' anything. They're marvelous, but they're just electrons. They don't even know they're electrons just as dogs don't know they're dogs.
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Discussion in:  religion discussion forum
Participants:  28
Total posts:  193
Initial post:  15 Nov 2012
Latest post:  20 Nov 2012

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