Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryPhilosophy of Mind

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Why, Despite All the Hype We Hear, AI Is Not “One of Us”

It takes an imaginative computer scientist to believe that the neural network knows what it’s classifying or identifying. It’s a bunch of relatively simple math
The AI scientist’s dream of general intelligence, often referred to as Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), remains as elusive as ever. Read More ›
The archaeologist is digging

Prehistoric Children with Down Syndrome Were Valued, Burials Show

The six found so far from one culture, identified by DNA evidence, did not live long but they were buried with grave goods
Today, when children with Down syndrome can grow up, they can display remarkable abilities, as the story of the Edmonton Oilers’ Joey Moss shows. Read More ›
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Philosopher: Non-Materialism Is Fashionable Orthodoxy Now

Non-reductionism, which means that the mind is not simply reducible to the brain, is now well accepted, she argues
Giuseppina D’oro’s essay introduces two 20th-century idealist philosophers — Oakeshott and Collingwood — and their critique of psychology as a science. Read More ›
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A Philosopher Explains: How the Soul Relates to the Body

James Madden explains a philosophical approach to the soul called hylomorphism which, he argues, can benefit neuroscience
Hylomorphism, derived from ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, unites the sou with the body without denying its immateriality or immortality. Read More ›
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What If We Lost the Power to Think Abstractly?

Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges depicts a character whose total recall prevents him from using abstractions, though he recognizes their existence
Physicist Werner Heisenberg saw in the dilemma of language — the specific vs. the general — an analogy to his famous Uncertainty Principle in physics. Read More ›
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Palliative Care Doctor: What Dying Feels Like

Although a dying person tends to spend more and more time asleep or unconscious, there may be a surge of brain activity just before death
Fifty years ago slick commentators expected to explode myths about the soul or the hereafter but today, NDEs and terminal lucidity are serious research topics. Read More ›
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Hall of Mirrors: The Many Ways Consciousness Baffles Researchers

Does consciousness have a seat at the table? Wait a minute. Isn’t consciousness the table? Or is it?
The human brain was bound to disappoint a pop culture quest for easy answers; brain imaging has not turned out to be a road map of the mind. Read More ›
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Is Your Mind Bigger Than the Universe? Well, Look At It This Way…

Surprisingly, there is a way to measure the mind that shows it IS bigger than the universe — information

Imagine you’re sitting at home, relaxing in your favorite easy chair. Go on, kick your legs up. Feel your limbs releasing the stress of the day, starting from the extremities, and progressing up your core to your head. Now, let your mind expand. Let go of what is holding your mind down. Feel it become free, outside of everything around it. Let the feeling continue until your mind is bigger than the universe. Now consider the question: if your mind is bigger than the universe, can it be within the universe? If a ball is bigger than a bag, can it be contained by the bag? Of course not. If the mind is bigger than the universe, then it must Read More ›

Paradigm of Soul Geometry

Belief in the Soul Is Found in Every Time and Place

Substance dualism holds clearly that the soul and the body are two different types of entities
The materialist philosophers ground war on “substance dualism” is really a war on what all human beings innately believe. Read More ›
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Could Human Consciousness Be a Recent Historical Development?

Julian Jaynes’s bicameral mind theory, popular in the 1970s, stated that until about 3000 years ago, humans were not really conscious
Julian Jaynes, a researcher at Princeton, developed his theory after he was not able to demonstrate the evolution of consciousness via animal studies. Read More ›
Flame of Evolution: Unveiling the Neanderthal's Discovery of Fire - A Surprising and Transformative Moment for Homo Sapiens, Marking an Astonishing Breakthrough in Ancient Culture.

Asked at Psychology Today: Were Neanderthals Religious?

We can’t poll long-dead Neanderthals on life, death, and the hereafter but the evidence we’ve dug up suggests they were thinking about that kind of thing
We must mentally step outside nature to consider things like how the world was created or what lies beyond death. Immaterial minds can do that. Read More ›
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Philosopher Tweets on Consciousness — and Gets Feedback

Tulane U’s Kevin Morris tweeted that “the brain/ nervous system IS consciousness,” and started a broad discussion with many views represented
Social media can be a tool for free discussions with people worldwide who may not go to the conferences, sign up for the courses, or read the books we do. Read More ›
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When a Brilliant Man Has a Very Confused Perspective …

Astrophysicist Avi Loeb simply doesn’t seem to see that human beings are more valuable than advanced machines
Those who think that Harvard’s best and brightest should rule over us might want to invest some time to discover how some of them really think. Read More ›
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Researchers: Goats Can Read Basic Human Emotions

The research team hopes to improve care of livestock by establishing what they do and don’t feel about the way they are treated
It’s no surprise if a wide range of animals understand human contentedness vs. anger. Those are precisely the elements of the mind that we and goats share. Read More ›
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Human Intelligence Is Fundamentally Different From Machine Intelligence

Design theorist William Dembski discusses the problems we will encounter when we try to integrate the two when, say, sharing the road with self-driving cars
Dembski also touches on Ray Kurzweil’s quest for digital immortality and how it falls short of the original quest and its religious expressions. Read More ›
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Where, Exactly, Is Memory Stored in the Brain?

The hippocampus of the brain is important for memory formation but memories are immaterial and are not really “stored” anywhere
Memories during near-death experiences, when the mind is not in touch with the brain, are often clear, precise, and comprehensive. Read More ›
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What Christof Koch Misunderstands About the Mind and the Brain

In his revealing interview at Closer to Truth, the Allen Institute neuroscientist, though he doubts physicalism, attributed subjective experiences to “brains”

As I noted earlier this week, neuroscientist Christof Koch, who is chief scientist and president of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, seems to be having second thoughts about a purely physical view of consciousness. Koch has long been a proponent of a physicalist understanding of the mind-brain relationship—that the mind is in some sense reducible to the brain. He has proposed that consciousness arises as a product of brain-network complexity. But when he was interviewed a month ago on Robert Lawrence Kuhn’s show Closer to Truth, he seemed to be reconsidering his physicalist perspective on the mind-brain relationship. He noted that experience—the first-person subjective character of consciousness—cannot be derived from matter by any mechanism we currently understand. He seems Read More ›

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Leading Neuroscientist Wavers on Physical View of Consciousness

On Closer to Truth, Christof Koch said last month, “Consciousness cannot be explained only within the framework of space and time and energy, but we need to postulate something additional”

Here’s a fascinating short video (9 minutes) of neuroscientist Christof Koch, interviewed on Robert Lawrence Kuhn’s YouTube philosophy show, Closer to Truth: Koch, chief scientist and president of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, has long been a proponent of physicalism as an explanation for the mind. On that view, the mind is wholly a product of physical processes in the brain. But last month he explained that he is now coming around to an explanation for consciousness that transcends traditional physical theories: Koch: Consciousness cannot be explained only within the framework of space and time and energy, but we need to postulate something additional — experience.” He acknowledges that subjective experience — I am an ‘I’ and not just Read More ›

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Are Researchers Taking Mystical Experiences More Seriously Now?

Neuroscientist Marc Wittmann, Research Fellow at the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health in Freiburg, Germany, has noticed a trend: Scientists are beginning to view altered states of consciousness — including mystical experiences, meditative states, and near-death experiences — with interest. That is, they are studying them, not just trying to explain them away. As he writes at MIT Reader, “for a long time extraordinary consciousness experiences have either been ignored by the mainstream natural sciences or have been explicitly denigrated as nonexistent — as the fantasies of cranks.” Perhaps enough evidence has accumulated of, for example, neurological or metabolic changes from meditation and verified information from near-death experiences, that study would make more sense now than Read More ›

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How Quantum Theory Relates To Consciousness

Experimental physicist Rob Sheldon explains the background to Hameroff and Penrose’s contested quantum consciousness theory, which is beginning to be tested

Yesterday, we ran a piece, “The theory that consciousness is a quantum system gains support,” which details a new interest in testing Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose’s quantum theory of consciousness (Orch OR theory). Many of us are unclear just how quantum theory relates to consciousness. Available evidence has amounted to saying that some phenomena are best explained that way. A faithful reader, experimental physicist Rob Sheldon, has offered to help with the background to quantum theories of consciousness. Here’s what he writes to say: — I’ll try a stab at explaining what quantum mechanics (QM) has to do with consciousness. The key document is prominent mathematical physicist Roger Penrose’s book, The Emperor’s New Mind: (Oxford, 1989). Here’s the first Read More ›