Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Material Mind

Now that I have neuroscience on my mind ... :-)

One might call the idea that some people have the mechanical-engineering model of the mind -- or, more simply, the mechanical mind -- the idea of the mind as mechanical. But if the basis of thought is in material (and this proposition stands in some serious doubt -- since it is far from clear that the underlying substratum of everything is materium rather than, say, "information"), human thought is not embedded in metallic material.

If mind is to be material, the mind might better be called the biological mind.

And it's interesting, of course, that the biological mind is structured to produce thought, logic, etc.; that it has neurons, axons, etc. that are arranged this way and that way so that thought (and consciousness?) can emerge.

I have sometimes wondered -- this, it must be said, is pure speculation -- I have sometimes whether the Grand Orginator preferred to give man [there's that word again] neural pathways embedded in soft tissue -- rather than electric circuits embedded in, say, dense metal -- because (is it so?) neural pathways enmeshed in soft brain tissue are sloppier -- because (if the following is true) there is more signal loss, signal misdirection, signal corruption, etc., in neural paths enmeshed in soft tissue than in the circuits enmeshed in your average computer. (Let's put aside the phenomenon of signal degradation over, say, the internet or telephone lines.) Is the (presumed) sloppiness -- mushiness? -- of neural pathways -- could we say their fuzziness? -- the basis of both human creativity and human freedom?

Well, it's a thought. Does anyone have more substantive, scholarly, and scientific comments to offer about this idle thought? (This question is not meant to be a veiled invitation to Daniel Dennett or to Paul and Patricia Churchland -- but I would not be angered to see such eminences heap material scorn here on my speculative ruminations. They are free to say what they wish. :-) )

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