Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryPhilosophy of Mind

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If Thinking Can Heal, Why Do We Need Antidepressants?

J.P. Moreland, who struggles with anxiety disorders, likens medications to engine oil for the brain

“If you’re driving your car and you’re low or don’t have any oil, parts of the engine are going to rub against one another and it’s going to cause a lot of friction and dysfunction.”

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Researchers: Apes Are Just Like Us!

And we’re not doing the right things to make them start behaving that way…

In 2011, we were told in Smithsonian Magazine, “‘Talking’ apes are not just the stuff of science fiction; scientists have taught many apes to use some semblance of language.” Have they? If so, why has it all subsided? What happened?

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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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human identification

If the mind is immaterial, is human cloning impossible?

I agree with Mike Egnor that the mind is immaterial but I don’t think human cloning is impossible

There are, of course, empirical implications of both the materialist and non-materialist understanding of the human mind. But the success of human cloning won’t weigh on the question one way or the other.

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This job is really stressing me out!

Can fitter brains help us fight depression?

Philosopher J. P. Moreland continues his account of working his way through a devastating anxiety disorder

"Anxiety and depression are largely—not entirely but largely—habit. And those habits are ingrained in the different members of our body," Moreland explains.

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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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super brain

Are Lab-Grown Human Brains the Next Big Thing?

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor thinks the hopes for humanly conscious lab-grown brains are faint indeed

“Neural tissue grown in a lab cannot have intentionality unless it has sense organs,” Egnor says, “But such manufactured intentionality can only be about concrete things, not abstract things.”

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How Do We Know Our Universe Is Not a Sim World?

It’s an interesting idea, say Bradley fellows, but for a number of reasons, it is not credible

The computer sim universe seems to be a way of dealing with the massive evidence of the fine-tuning of our universe without invoking traditional philosophy or religion.

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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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J. P. Moreland’s Model of the Human Self Survived the Ultimate Field Test

Could the Christian philosopher rely on his model to help himself heal from psychiatric disorder?
To win the struggle with mental states that he knew to be aberrant, he had to clarify his view of the mind and the soul. But this time it was from the first-person perspective: it is not just my theory; this is happening to me. Read More ›
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 ›

Man silhouette on rural landscape background. Psychiatry and psychology concept.

Four Researchers Whose Work Sheds Light on the Reality of the Mind

The brain can be cut in half, but the intellect and will cannot, says Michael Egnor. The intellect and will are metaphysically simple

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor was featured in a short film as a supplement to the Science Uprising series. There, he mentions four researchers who have shed light on the non-material mind nature of our minds: Wilder Penfield (1891–1976): Some of the earliest evidence came from neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield, who was the pioneer in epilepsy surgery in the mid 20th century. Penfield operated on over a thousand epilepsy patients while they were awake (under local anesthesia), and he stimulated their brains with electrodes in order to identify epileptic regions for surgical resection. He carefully recorded their responses to stimulation. In his book Mystery of the Mind, (1975) Penfield noted: “When I have caused a conscious patient to move his hand by applying 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 ›
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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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Schattenspiel

Who Started the War on Reason Anyway?

Steven Poole calls the numerous books purporting to show that humans are not reasoning creatures a “scientised version of original sin”

As he shows in his survey of the literature, the underlying assumptions about human behavior are often wrong or questionable.

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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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