Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Michael Egnor

Arrangement mit Zitrusfrüchten, citrus fruits

How Can Mind Interact with Matter?

Nature itself provides examples of how the immaterial interacts with the material

Nature is pervaded by immaterial forms like chirality that determine the properties of matter. This interaction is well recognized in science. It is in this sense that spirit and matter can and do interact.

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Humanoid Robot Call Center Question
Humanoid robot in a call center with questions in the front of the monitor. 3d illustration.

Can We Engineer Consciousness in a Robot?

One neuroscientist thinks we need only “simple guidelines.” His underlying assumptions are just wrong

Graziano's approach is not new. Ancient philosophers thought the mind was fire (not too long after the discovery of fire). Early modern philosophers thought the mind was a machine (just as the machine age got started). Now suddenly it's a computer… 

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human brain dissection

An Oxford Neuroscientist Explains Mind vs. Brain

Sharon Dirckx explains the fallacies of materialism and the logical and scientific strengths of dualism

It’s good to see a growing response to the materialist superstition about the mind and the brain from the neuroscience and philosophy community.

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peacock with open tail and female

Did Consciousness Evolve to Find Love?

It’s an attractive idea but it comes with a hidden price tag

If consciousness is a mere tool of human sexual selection, it is mere plumage, a pretty enticement, of no meaning or import otherwise. But then what becomes of Dr. Graziano’s own intellectual labors?

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Abstract.

Did Consciousness “Evolve”?

One neuroscientist doesn’t seem to understand the problems the idea raises

Darwinian evolution must select physical attributes. If consciousness evolved as a mere byproduct of physical brain processes, it is powerless in itself. Thus Graziano's theories of consciousness are themselves mindless accidents.

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Photo by Julien-Pier Belanger

Neuroscientist Michael Graziano Should Meet the P-Zombie

To understand consciousness, we need to establish what it is not before we create any more new theories

A p-zombie (a philosopher’s thought experiment) behaves exactly like a human being but has no first-person (subjective) experience. The meat robot violates no physical principles. Yet we KNOW we are not p-zombies. Think what that means.

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Near death experience Andrew Charney Unsplash 4gP2EKPlU1Q-unsplash

Near-Death Experiences Are More Real Than Some of the Research

At Scientific American, we learn of an analysis that tries to link them to recreational drug highs, based only on language use

The scientific “method” of inferring a common biological cause of the experiences by analyzing the language used to describe them is junk science. One may as well infer that lung cancer and tuberculosis have a common cause because sufferers from both diseases report cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and weight loss.

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chimpanzee family

Human-Ape Similarity Shows Humans Are Exceptional

If man is an animal biologically, but so unlike an animal cognitively, the obvious implication is that some aspect of the human mind is not biological

Ironically, if humans and apes were biologically more different, materialists could claim that the material biological differences rather than immaterial spiritual differences account for our powers of abstract thought. The biological similarity precludes such an argument.

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nerve cells, Neurologic Disease, tumors,brain surgery

A Materialist Neuroscientist Continues the Argument with Himself

On the topic of “intellectual seizures,” he seems committed to both points of view

I assert that intellectual seizures do not exist. Dr. Ali asserts that they do exist and that they do not. The difference between their existence and their non-existence seems to be Dr. Ali’s rhetorical needs of the moment.

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Business concept for group of stacked paperclip with another one red plane paperclip is point to another direction as a team leadership

Can Materialism Explain Abstract Thought? Part II

Now Dr. Ali argues with Dr. Ali

I know of no report in medical history of an abstract thought evoked by a seizure or by brain stimulation. Which is odd, if the brain causes abstract thought.

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Stand out from the crowd and different concept , One light balloon flying away from other green balloons on light green pastel color wall background with window reflections and shadows . 3D rendering.

What Is Abstract Thought? A Reply to Dr. Ali

Abstract thoughts cannot arise from material things because a cause cannot give what it does not have

Dr. Ali’s deeper fallacy—deeper than his misunderstanding of the research—is his belief that mere complexity of material processes is sufficient to explain immaterial processes.

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human brain on a running machine

Up! Up! Up! Keep Those Hippocampi Up!

The lighter side of neurobabble about our brains and ourselves

Neurobabble is a full-employment campaign for neuroscientists. Recast obvious social or psychological facts as brain events and you’ll never be out of work.

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Fetuses in Vials artificial grown, in vitro fertilization of babies, embryo growth future technologies, human cloning vials, fetuses test tubes, babies grown laboratories 3D illustration

Three reasons why humans won’t be cloned

I am prepared to subject my belief that humans cannot be cloned like Dolly the sheep to the test

Both materialist and immaterialist theories of the mind should be subject to empirical testing—neither should be exempt.

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People rows. Unusual persons in row. Concept 3D illustration

Is an Immaterial Mind a Barrier to Human Cloning?

Human cloning has thus far been a scientific dead end

The ability to clone a rational man is a straightforward prediction of the materialist view of man, and the inability to clone a rational man is a straightforward prediction of the immaterialist view.

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Labirinth

Tales of the Mind: A Neurologist Encounters the House of Mirrors

Materialism is an intellectual trap, out of which neuroscience needs to climb

Yale University neurologist Steven Novella posted recently on the science of growing brain tissue in the lab. It’s interesting stuff, but then we come to the jumbled metaphysical musings that conclude his post: There is a layer of weirdness to the very idea of brain tissue in a vat, because I think we are naturally uncomfortable with the very notion that our consciousness is the result of a clump of tissue shuttling ions around. It breaks the illusion that our brains evolved to have, a very compelling and persistent illusion – namely that the reality we perceive is real, rather than a constructed representation. That internal representation has a strong relationship to physical reality, but the two are not the Read More ›

Langzeit EEG

Do “forced thinking” seizures show that abstract thought is a material thing?

Epilepsy suppresses abstract thought, it does not evoke it
It’s worth noting that Wilder Penfield, (with Herbert Jasper, his neurologist colleague), was one of the first doctors to characterize forced thinking seizures and he asserted that there are no intellectual seizures. He understood that forced thinking seizures are not seizures of the intellect. Read More ›
Migräneanfall - Kopfschmerz

Do Epileptic Seizures Cause Abstract Thoughts?

A psychiatrist argues that “intellectual seizures” can occur

Seizures never evoke abstract thought. That is, if a seizure causes you to think about a triangle, it always causes you to imagine a particular triangle, not to define triangles abstractly.

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Head erased with pencil

Atheist Psychiatrist Misunderstands Evidence for an Immaterial Mind

Patients with massive brain damage were shown to have a mental life

Here is one way of seeing it: If someone took a sledgehammer to your computer and pulverized it, yet it still worked fairly well, you would conclude that there was something rather strange about the computer that you had not previously considered.

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Uneasy senior woman praying for sick man

New Evidence That Some Comatose People Really Do Understand

Researchers found mental activity in response to verbal commands even in some “completely unresponsive” patients

There is growing evidence that many comatose patients are quite aware of what is going on around them. For example, nurses are often very careful not to say upsetting things that the patient can hear because blood pressure often rises dramatically, even in deeply “unaware” comatose patients.

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