Wednesday, December 26, 2007

'Mind' still a medical enigma

Herbert's experience evokes the question: Can the human mind provide the power to will a man from a near-comatose state? Some experts believe the mind is not only powerful, it isn't even "local" to the body.

(Via The Anomalist.)

Like most skeptics, I have grave misgivings about the "miraculous," a term we seem to instinctively reach for to describe phenomena beyond the realm of known science. There are no "miracles." There is, however, a body of strangeness that leaves the door open (if only barely) for some form of nonlocal consciousness.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I'd have to agree--the terms miracle and miraculous suggest some supernatural source of healing, etc. But think about it--just what is supernatural is more faith-based, or a form of magical thinking, using the psychiatric definition.

Just because something extremely unlikely, rare, or unusual does occassionally occur, doesn't mean it's a miracle, or caused by some direct "supernatural" intervention.

It just means we don't yet know exactly how and why some things that seem to defy logical explanation actually originate and occur. I think I'll have to stick to objective empiricism here, rather than some nebulous belief in miracles.

Anonymous said...

Once more into the breach.... The mind is a "medical enigma" for the simple reason that the mind is not a medical ENTITY. The brain is but not the mind and brain IS NOT mind. And as long as this materialistic mind-brain misidentification fallacy is as endemic to intellectual culture as it currently is, there WILL BE NO real understanding of either mind or brain. The Bear Hath Spoken....

Anonymous said...

Bear--Speak Once More...

If the brain itself is a physiological "medical entity," but not the mind, even though mind arises from and within the brain, as far as I know, just what is and how do you define "mind" as, and how is it logically separate? Are you referring to non-local or possible quantum effects and processes constituting mind? Or something different? And doesn't mind require at least the substrate of brain, to arise in the first place? I'm curious as to how you quantify mind here.

And, if it is as you say, what does that suggest for artificial intelligence and/or genetic enhancement (of those elements of DNA and their structured configuration on a molecular or possibly even sub-atomic basis that relate to very high levels of intelligence) of our species via direct manipulation of our genes?

[Perhaps Ray Kurzweil's "technological singularity" is but a dream, or so potentially far off, since we really do not know how intellect and consciousness actually works, that any AI or transhuman intelligence enhancement will not be realistically possible any time soon, or at all, given the time we have left as a "civilized" species, given the dire prospects of eco-disaster and climate and ocean-related rapid declines, and the subsequent effect on our population levels.]

Anonymous said...

Unless "mind" or consciousness, self-awareness, and/or intellect can arise without replicating the physical aspects of the human mind, as in possibly some form of quantum computing that may be able to be self-programming and thus self-modifying. A kind of "bootstrapping," or direct self-leveraging principle.

If such an "AI" could pass deep Turing testing, would we be communicating "mind" to "mind"? And if we can't tell the difference, how would we be able to know? Pretty weird stuff.