material basis for consciousness

We've bounced this around here a bit. This neurologist was on Charlie Rose recently. He's made some amazing discoveries about the structure and functioning of the brain. His work centers around identifying the physical basis for certain types of awareness which aren't well understood. He seems to believe that eventually we will have a good understanding of the physical process that results in self-awareness and consciousness. He doesn't get very deep into that specific topic in this interview, but it is a pretty fascinating conversation, I thought.


  • Very cool. He has done extensive work with the real "Rain man" as well IIRC. Interestingly, at the beginning of the segment, he states that although he is an evolutionist, he believes in a monumental leap in consciousness and self-awareness that humans must have had experienced - sharply distinguishing them from even the most complex primates. If one studies Sumerian culture (the earliest civilization on record), they state that their gods manipulated the "black faces" (could be construed as apes or chimps) to create humankind. The coolest part of the "tale" or "myth" is that their ancient artwork of this "creation" looks like two gods weaving together a double helix.

    The requisite of "empathy" in every [i:1j47gasf]normal[/i:1j47gasf] brain function was profound as well. This empathy "gene" or "neuron" or whatever the hell it turns out to be, could also explain something I've been chasing for years - the physiological and psychological "causes" of good and evil.

    Thanks for the link!
  • Except for an [i:mlevz2cj] a priori[/i:mlevz2cj] assumption of there being no Creator that drives him to assume a "monumental leap in consciousness," it sounds like he has discovered some of the "imputed" qualities of the human mind which theologians have been advocating for centuries.
  • John Cleese on the the reductionist view of the mind:
  • Fascinating video!!

    Just one comment for now: It's refreshing that Dr. Ramachandran states his metaphysical view early on. He's an evolutionist, not a creationist. It was stated matter-of-factly and without condemnation of the view he does not hold. He recognizes they are both metaphysical views, and like a scientist, he is able to pigeonhole the views and move on. I thought that was a great example for how different worldviews can coexist that we can emulate.

    Around 15 minutes, Charlie Rose asks how this research helps us understand human evolution. Dr. Ramachandran weaves these observations into his metaphysical view. Note that evolution did not help his research at all, as a scientific theory would; evolution, like a worldview, absorbs the observations [b:1th6m9dy]after-the-fact.[/b:1th6m9dy] Charlie Rose could have asked a creationist how these observations help us understand God's creation and the creationist would have done the same: weaving the observations into his worldview.
  • said:

    John Cleese on the the reductionist view of the mind:[/quote:1xloeli0]


  • Dr. Ramachandran mentions [b:2ujjyudd]the placebo effect[/b:2ujjyudd]. He used it correctly: it is routinely used as a baseline by which to judge the effectiveness of new drugs. If a new drug improves 75% of the patients, one might say that's great news. But if a sugar pill improves 70% of the patients, this drug really isn't that great (I think the FDA requires a certain percent above the placebo before it can be approved.) The placebo effect is well documented, but poorly understood.

    My question: what is the material basis for the placebo effect? I'm a dualist: I believe there is a separate spiritual mind component to the physical brain; the mind is not a mere projection of the brain but actually real and distinct. The mind can actually [b:2ujjyudd]change[/b:2ujjyudd] the state of the brain and body. It has been documented that people can be healed simply by thinking positive thoughts.

    The [b:2ujjyudd]nocebo effect[/b:2ujjyudd] is the opposite, and it too is well-documented. If a patient believes medicine will harm them, it likely will. If a patient believes the doctor is an incompetent idiot, his treatments will not work as well.

    I believe the placebo effect and nocebo effect strongly evidences dualism and damages the materialist view.
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