anthony

Empathy, weaponized

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The emotion of compassion is like all emotions; an automated response from one's value-judgments. Likewise, it signals that something positive/negative, by your standards, is afoot.

Simply, feeling empathy is the response of one's own value-judgements -- applied to ~an other's~ situation, plight, suffering, pain.

Since compassion is being kicked about so much lately, it should be analyzed closer. Seems to me the teaching of empathy started springing up about 15-20 years ago simultaneous to teachings by supposedly learned experts that emotional intelligence EQ is more important than intellectual IQ. Making for and confirming the old dis-junction between mind and emotions. Prescribed largely by women at the time, men too began searching themselves for that telling lack of empathy. But because no two persons' value-systems are exactly alike, sure as hell they'd find that they didn't necessarily feel the same way about the same situation as others apparently did. 

Not for the same thing, and/or not to the same degree. On other occasions, feeling much MORE than them . Aha, crowed the empathists, not good enough. You either feel what we feel - for the poor, the children, the Africans, etc.etc. - or...[you are probably a sociopath]. And so, many men and other women learned to fake it.

That's when the cult of empathy began. Used as a psychological force that would create uniformity/dependence in a mass response. Children too, were indoctrinated and have been ever since. The oldest trick, using one's better emotions against one. If one blindly accepts this lie and subterfuge and senses one doesn't meet the conformist, compassionate grade, naturally the next emotion is guilt. They have you, coming or going.

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2 minutes ago, anthony said:

The emotion of compassion is like all emotions; an automated response from one's value-judgments. Likewise, it signals that something positive/negative is afoot.

Simply, feeling empathy is one's own value-judgements applied to ~an other's~ situation, plight, suffering, pain.

Since compassion is being kicked about lately, it should be analyzed. The teaching of empathy started springing up about 15-20 years ago simultaneous to teachings by supposedly learned experts that emotional intelligence EQ is more important than intellectual IQ. Making for and confirming the old dis-junction between mind and emotions. Prescribed largely by women at the time, men too began searching themselves for that telling lack of empathy. But because no two person's value-systems is exactly alike, sure as hell they'd find that they didn't necessarily feel the same way about the same situation as others apparently did. 

Not to the same thing, and/or not to the same degree. On other occasions, feeling much MORE than them . Aha, crowed the empathists, not good enough. You either feel what we feel - for the poor, the children, the Africans, etc.etc. - or...[you are probably a sociopath].

That's when the cult of empathy began. Used as a psychological force that would create uniformity/dependence in a mass response. Children too, were indoctrinated and have been ever since. The oldest trick, using one's better emotions against one. If one blindly accepts this lie and doesn't meet the compassionate grade, naturally the next emotion is guilt. They have you, coming or going.

Makes me think of Dagney Taggart, trying to impart her energy into others around her...and then, her first night on the Gulch, in the room where everyone stays at first to get that misplaced empathy out of their system...(the room Galt never intended for her...)

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Michael, by hardwired, meaning it by-passes one's conscious faculties? i.e. instinctive? Not derived from first discerning conscious value or disvalue?

I don't think much about the worth of empathy, then. On the giving end or receiving end, it says nothing about a person's values and concerns. He had nothing to do with it.

I suppose it is possible to teach children that others, too, have the ability to feel pain and pleasure, just like one does. And that others too place value in themselves.

It is the teaching of 'empathy' on command that is disturbing and one suspects, controlling his future behavior into a little social conformist in the herd. With all the attention given it, we should be in a highly compassionate world today, but plainly are not. The opposite, hatred, cruelty, etc. has increased, which is telling. Comes down to it, every toddler learns by himself, unaided, that others can feel pain and pleasure as he does, so teaching it is quite superfluous. Let a bunch play together in a room and see it happen!

 

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Tony,

You are not going to square the circle.

Just because empathy, rage, love, boredom, etc., can be used for manipulation, that does not mean they don't have a specific nature grounded in biology.

Imagine if empathy was merely learned according to chosen values and nothing more. That means warlords would be able to cultivate empathy for chopping off heads.

🙂 

At times I think you are more certain of Rand's propositions about emotions and cognition than she ever was. 🙂 

She even called ITOE a theory and nothing more than a theory.

I'm not going to hammer you on this, but I will make a suggestion. I suggest you look at stuff I am almost certain she would have had she remained alive to see it.

And, here's a poke in the ribs. Rand once told NB that she was content to leave the swamp of the subconscious to him. By logical extension, this mean humans, by being born with a subconscious, that is, a swamp, are doomed to immorality unless cured by reason, which they are supposed to acquire by choice.

In other words, man is born immoral by his very nature and must redeem himself. 

This is Original Sin.

:evil: 

 Michael

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I call that a leap, not a logical extension, to Original Sin. I have only passing interest in Rand's aside remarks. She is on record for the blank slate theory, and much about the pre-conceptual mind and subconscious, which sure, becomes conceptual (by choice) as a person matures, obviously. That fits with my observations.

O.S. makes no rational sense, is a pre-moral judgment on the innocent and can't be Randian, by any stretch .

There is nothing simpler - to know pain in others, one must first know it in oneself.

One very early finds it a sensory dis-value, (of course, biology, the "pleasure-pain mechanism" as AR specifies also) and one grows to find other sources of pain (which are not physical; loss, for instance), then consciously declares pain as inimical to you and mankind. What was subconscious becomes a conscious judgment.

To know pain in others, and to use that knowledge to one's ends, is not empathy, it's sadism or cruel mind control.

Ha, I don't think I know more than Rand. I think her theories have to be expanded upon by each thinker. To know them well and to pressure test them for validity they need to be used. They are, like the emotional theory, extremely concise and abbreviated and need fleshing out. I do know that to this theory of emotions I had instant recognition. In a rough way, I knew it already.

I repeat, I would find zero worth in empathy if it were not grounded in a person's thoughtful value-judgments. I.e. is automatic, a hard-wired instinct, or dumb brain chemicals. One is therefore not responsible for that emotion. That's not fully human.

 

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9 hours ago, anthony said:

I do know that to this theory of emotions I had instant recognition. In a rough way, I knew it already.

Tony,

Bingo.

This is what I know about you that others have challenges with. I didn't expect you to be so aware of it you would articulate it so clearly.

One of the fundamental laws of persuasion goes like this: You cannot reason someone out of a position he did not reason himself into.

Your premise-level view of emotions, your interpretation of Rand's view, so to speak, comes from a feeling, not a process of critical examination.

You use reason to defend your view, but never to examine it.

Notice that whenever I suggest you look at something you know will not be in line with your view, you refuse to look. It's not that you look and mull it over. You refuse to look.

And you say you have already thought through all that.

But the root is right here in what you just said. Instant identification. You knew it already.

The reality is, you didn't think anything through to arrive at your conclusion. You read something and instantly adopted it based on a feeling. No reason was involved. Just a gut-level feeling. And it gave you certainty (which is another emotion).

No amount of reason on earth can cut through that to get to your checking premises faculty. This level of premise you will never check until you want to. Until then, all observations by others, arguments, experiments, etc., go into the same bin by default, that is, before reason kicks in--the dismiss and discard bin.

I don't blame you for this. God knows I know what it feels like since I operated my mind that way for years. (I have a theory about that gut-level feeling, and I even hold that it's a good thing, but that's for another day.)

Regardless, it's all grand. I am your friend and you are mine. I like you a lot (but don't get excited 🙂 and, unlike lefties, O-Land fundies, and other fanatics, our disagreement about this will never be an issue in my mind (or heart) on the friendship level.

You are a person I would trust to take care of my kids.

Why? Call it a gut-level feeling... 🙂 

Michael

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18 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Some empathy is taught, some is hardwired in response to distress signals and a few other things.

Oxytocin.

Michael

 

Agreed. Like almost everything spiritual: nature, nurture, and possibility of manipulation all factor in.

I wonder if empathy is more complex than what most people casually think of it... in an analogy to the same way sensation - perception - cognition - evaluation - emotion works is complex.

Since empathy is not supernatural revelation of another, it must start with sensation.  Something parallel to perception is involved and then instead of conscious identification and conscious evaluation there a kind of subconscious “recognition” and “assessment” which leads to an emotion.

That emotion tends to be an odd mixture of the feeling the other person is intuited as experiencing as well as a feeling of some regard for or standing with that person.

We observe that some situations and persons evoke empathy or resonance in some others but not everyone.  Empathy is  individual and fallible.  The premises one holds affects this lightning calculator too. 

Since the emotions potentially generated by it from sadness to   anger to joy, I tend to see it less as a single emotion and more as a whole intuitive pathway of a process of “participating” with another on a non cognitive level.

Like emotion however, it can’t be trusted as a final arbiter guiding action, but it certainly can be a useful capacity for gaining insight about others and therefore insight about the self... and it certainly plays a big part in the enjoyment of life!

 

the above is speculation ... i suppose i should have done some research first 

 

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2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

Bingo.

This is what I know about you that others have challenges with. I didn't expect you to be so aware of it you would articulate it so clearly.

One of the fundamental laws of persuasion goes like this: You cannot reason someone out of a position he did not reason himself into.

 

Michael

Well no, Michael. Thanks for the kind words but you have not allowed me enough credit.

My thinking about emotions came from much introspection and observation when a teen. I was that sort of person, wrapped inside himself much of the time. 15 or so years later, I read Rand and had that instant pre-recognition of the truth in her theory, basically on how the mind works, preconditioned by it having a specific nature. Then and after I haven't stopped observing, thinking and evolving much more from that knowledge - here, about emotions.

Conclusion: Rand was fundamentally, exactly correct. When - one puts in the effort of following through and matching the theory against reality, independently. Her emotional theory is of course loaded towards a reasoning mind which finds objective value in things. However, she obviously acknowledges too that it goes for all: a non-conceptual and/or subjective mind also makes value-judgments (and why, e.g. some people can find emotional delight in brutal activities. Seems plain their fault lies in false identification and so corrupt value-judgments). Even here, the negative aspect of humans, making awful value-judgments and usually being ruled by their emotions, the theory remains intact. The negative affirms the positive.

If one is honest with oneself one can indeed "reason himself" out of something into something else. You reappraise the facts. The facts you gain from inductive experience - and learned, educated facts. You keep them integrated.

Nothing changes. No new facts and ever finer sub-facts out of neuro-science make a shattering difference. They advance one's knowledge in the biological sphere but do not conflict with consciousness. 

Understand me please, I keep repeating that the empirically known scientific facts about *what* goes on in the material brain, gel completely with one's experience of *how* the mind operates, philosophically. Science hasn't all the answers.

I've stressed this before, there is self-evidently no dis-continuum between biology and consciousness - while many try to make it so. The combination works and has worked since mankind began.

Brain - a fact. Consciousness - a fact.

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2 hours ago, Strictlylogical said:

 

 

Like emotion however, it can’t be trusted as a final arbiter guiding action, but it certainly can be a useful capacity for gaining insight about others and therefore insight about the self... and it certainly plays a big part in the enjoyment of life!

 

 

 

Those observations are good; simply, emotions show up instantly what is good or bad for one. SINCE one already programmed them that way. They cannot arise out of nothing. Which leads into myths about the mystical insights of our feelings. They are mental, they came from *somewhere* - some conscious acts of a mind - in defense of the mind and body. .

Taking the emotion further, back to cognition and introspection, shows up one's premises and gains an insight into others' premises and their values. Although not to be taken alone as accurate tools of cognition about them, also. Reason and value still lead the way, but emotions in themselves are their own reward (when good) and a warning (when bad). We couldn't live without them.

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41 minutes ago, anthony said:

Thanks for the kind words but you have not allowed me enough credit.

Tony,

On the contrary, I have given you more credit than you imagine.

You see a lot for someone who purposely keeps his eyes shut.

🙂

Michael

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2 hours ago, Strictlylogical said:

 

I wonder if empathy is more complex than what most people casually think of it... in an analogy to the same way sensation - perception - cognition - evaluation - emotion works is complex.

 

 

"Empathy: Power of projecting one's personality into & so fully comprehending the object of comprehension". [Oxford dictionary, 1969].

That will be called archaic today, but there is the original definition, a far wider denotation. (The object.) Now empathy has come to be equated with "compassion".

 

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Has anyone a reply to

13 hours ago, anthony said:

I repeat, I would find zero worth in empathy if it were not grounded in a person's thoughtful value-judgments. I.e. is automatic, a hard-wired instinct, or dumb brain chemicals. One is therefore not responsible for that emotion. That's not fully human.

 

My objection to empathy when "automatic" (as distinct from all emotions being self-automated) hasn't been addressed.

What would you think of a person who claimed his helpful response to your distressed situation was automatic, nothing to do with his thoughts, having values and making value-judgments? I.e. nothing to do with you and nothing to do with him.

I'd tell him to shove his version of empathy and his helpfulness and go to hell. There is where forced duty (sacrificial altruism) meets forced and faked empathy.

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

On the contrary, I have given you more credit than you imagine.

You see a lot for someone who purposely keeps his eyes shut.

🙂

Michael

Eyes wide open, I assure you.

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3 hours ago, Strictlylogical said:

You guys should be more explicit and specific about your actual disagreement so that bystanders can gain something from it ... 😊

Hey, open to all. You made some searching comments...

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I'm on about the dark side of empathy. The homogenization of individuals, by one psychological method among others, to make people conform themselves into the greater society and a global society. All effected by way of a decent human emotion, responsive to an individual's values.

I suppose that everyone has seen the effects of many years of Political Correctness and later growths from that. The self-censorship, silencing and sensitizing of people, fearful to say anything to offend. Freedom of speech, being whittled down. People losing employment and reputations, because they tentatively wanted to be honest about something. The smug, moral certainty of our media commentators, making known their prejudicial feelings while supposedly informing us of the news. The outrage on campuses when anyone not 'one of them' arrives to talk. Making and enshrining "victims" out of particular people - one automatically must feel compassion for victims... The banning of literature for the delicate, empathic minds. The humiliating servility which even the "capitalist" business leaders pay to the "Wokes" with their advertising and other public gestures. There's so much more, almost totally from the Left and its pols, and I think this all relates strongly to how *acceptably* empathic one is in the sight of others. If you don't submit (vocally and visibly) to such fine feelings for specific (not all) groups, you are plainly hateful - in effect. Hating the right people and 'loving' the right people is their primitive ethics. And never mind the hypocrisy and self-contradictions. Taking a knee, now publicly demonstrated in other countries like here, is the newest p.c. symbol of solidarity - i.e. empathy - with other people, by skin color. Nor is it empathy that's wrong, but the submission of the individual and his/her personal emotions into the masses parading a mass emotion, which is. The detrimental consequences lately, rather than encouraging common decency and considerate awareness of others, speak for themselves. There is more distrust and division now than any time when people spoke freely (and sometimes, hurtfully) but would mostly get along, live and let live, and not have to guard their speech and thoughts.  Is there anyone who has the intellectual ammunition to withstand the force of the universalized "good" emotion? Precisely because it IS an emotion, the "given" - above logic - arguing facts and values, or extolling freedom and reason, is near useless. In fact, marks you as "one of them" who can be safely shouted down. I can only see this mass empathic-emotional hysteria as softening up the minds of members of the civilized world into a single herd, readied for control.

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21 hours ago, anthony said:

Eyes wide open, I assure you.

Tony,

I don't know if it is worth the quibble, but there is a logical contradiction with your statement.

You can't say your eyes are wide open about a topic and then say you refuse to look at the same time.

Let's strip out the metaphor so we don't get sidetracked farting around metaphorically instead of dealing with the issue.

You can't say you are open to looking into a topic and that you refuse to look at new information about that topic on purpose and have that mean anything.

You are either open to looking or you refuse to look. You cannot do and be both at the same time.

A is A, as the lady said. A is not non-A.

This error goes deeper, too. It leads you to make a serious mistake I decided to remain silent on earlier, but now I decided different. 🙂 

You write as if the neuroscientists and other experts I suggest you look at are opposed to the following and that you, as keeper of the flame, know this and they don't.

23 hours ago, anthony said:

... there is self-evidently no dis-continuum between biology and consciousness - while many try to make it so. The combination works and has worked since mankind began.

Brain - a fact. Consciousness - a fact.

As you said in that same post about consciousness: "Science hasn't all the answers."

What you don't know is that these are the exact positions of most of the neuroscientists and experts I mention.

You are blaming them for positions they do not believe in. And you are touting this as a virtue. 

Do you know why you you don't what their positions are? Because you refuse to look.

That's OK, as far as that goes. It's perfectly OK (and perfectly fine by me) not to know something and not be interested in it.

It's not OK to present someone's thinking as the exact opposite of what they think and write. It's not OK to say they have no new information on something because you won't look at it, then mischaracterize what they present as the opposite.

Willful ignorance is not Objectivism. It's a value in your code of values, I suppose, going by your stubbornness on keeping your eyes slammed shut and touting the virtue of it, but it is not Objectivism. I can't think of a single place where Rand proposed that all to be known about something is already known and one should avoid new information about it.

I say all this as friend, not foe.

You are making a terrible intellectual mistake.

Reality doesn't forgive things like that and I, for one, would love to see you sidestep any consequences that reality has waiting for you.

Michael

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Michael, your "exact positions". Yes, I want to "look". If there are scientists who are not reductive-materialists - I'd like to hear of them. He or she must be uncommon.

I'd seen from the mainstream scientists (e.g. Sam Harris, a neurologist, who absolutely denies the conscious mind. I read Wilson's "Consilience", an excellent book, but he makes that same error, ultimately, reverting to a cultural collective of minds). Scientists are reductionists, that's their trade and what they are good at. For a broad theory of humanity they only see naturalism.

Stubbornness, you call it. I vehemently defend consciousness. Anyone who dilutes or dismisses it in any way hears from me 🙂

I don't know how many times I repeat that there should be no break between one's gained knowledge of reality from observation - and one's educated knowledge.

Not me, but the scientists and modern philosophers make that break.

Please show me the scientists who embrace the mind with the brain? I'd love to hear from them.

Is this about emotions and empathy as one emotion? I guess so. Then where is the new material that either validates or disproves Rand's (and my) emotional theory?

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In general, not to anyone specific, I understand personally what the fuss is all about. Everybody is deeply, almost spiritually, connected to their emotions. It was plain way back and I see that more than ever in others. Emotions are, everyone surmises, what makes them not only human, but GOOD.

(Good for whom? for what purpose? never mind. How many care for and know about *objective value*?)

(I know it unsettles any to hear and see that higher mammals also have simple emotions; okay, most conclude, then animals must also be "good". Why can't we be like them? Etc.).

Briefly what there is, is that people connect with their emotions when they should be as much ~and more ~ connected to their minds. To the SOURCE of their values which determine their emotions - their reasoning or lack of. Rationality, or also irrationality.

And then again, cold logic is no contest for hot emotions - is it?

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21 hours ago, anthony said:

Michael, your "exact positions". Yes, I want to "look". If there are scientists who are not reductive-materialists - I'd like to hear of them. He or she must be uncommon.

Tony,

Bullshit. I gave you a list.

You dismissed it without even looking and kept repeating your mantras.

These people are not uncommon, either. They are uncommon to you because you won't look.

They are quite common to the world and some are bestsellers. But how in the devil would you know? You stopped looking when you came to Sam Harris (who I have profound disagreements with, by the way, including that whole group around Dawkins).

But here.

Start here if you want to learn something serious about consciousness and the modern explosions of knowledge about the brain and mind.

Look into Iain McGilchrist.

Here are some direct quotes from his book (my bold), The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, Second Edition:

Quote

Ten years on, I have been genuinely astonished by the completely unforeseen extent to which this book has been taken up by people in every discipline, and from every walk of life. It has already sold over 100,000 copies, and has readers all over the world. I think the reason for this must be that the structural and functional differences between the brain hemispheres which I describe have, as indeed they must, their correlates in the mind; and that we are intuitively aware of these structural and functional differences within our consciousness – but only, it seems, once they are pointed out.

. . .

Understanding hemisphere difference offers a perspective on the structure of mind which is not available merely by introspection. If in everyday life we were aware of the discrepancies in the view, or ‘take’, on the world each hemisphere offers, it would render the immediate business of survival impracticable. For this reason, nature has taken care that these discrepancies should not be part of our everyday awareness. Even on sustained introspection, we can be only indirectly aware of the fact that reality is constructed from two incompatible world views. This fact becomes manifest, however, in the disputes of philosophers and theologians over the ages about the very nature of reality. By such indirect routes we become aware of fundamental irreconcilables in the world, irreconcilables so marked that they have led philosophers, time and again, to conclude that we are ‘citizens of two worlds’ – though those worlds were never fully articulated. The last fifty years have brought the means to carry out painstaking observations of brain function and the changes in the lived world of the individual whose function is altered. With that comes the knowledge that those ‘two worlds’ the philosophers intuited are each underwritten by one hemisphere of the brain.

. . .

... if my purpose is to understand the world better, why do I not just deal with mind, and forget about the brain? And in particular why should we be concerned with the brain’s structure? That may be of academic interest to scientists, but as long as it carries on working, does it really matter? After all, my pancreas is doing fine, without my being able to remember much about its structure.

However one conceives the relationship of mind and brain – and especially if one believes them to be identical – the structure of the brain is likely to tell us something we otherwise could not so easily see. We can inspect the brain only ‘from the outside’ (even when we are probing its innermost reaches), it is true: but we can inspect the mind only ‘from within’ (even when we seem to objectify it). Seeing the brain’s structure is just easier. And since structure and function are closely related, that will tell us something about the nature of our mental experience, our experience of the world. Hence I believe it does matter. But I should emphasise that, although I begin by looking at brain structure in relation to the neuropsychological functions that we know are associated with each hemisphere, my aim is purely to illuminate aspects of our experience.

. . .

I think we would accept that the conflicts that Freud helped identify – between will and desire, between intention and action, and broader disjunctions between whole ways of conceiving the world in which we live – are the proper concern, not just of psychiatrists and psychologists, but of philosophers, and of artists of all kinds, and of each one of us in daily life. Similarly, understanding the way in which the brain’s structure influences the mind is of relevance not just to neuroscientists, or psychiatrists, or philosophers, but to everyone who has a mind or a brain. If it turns out that there is after all coherence to the way in which the correlates of our experience are grouped and organised in the brain, and we can see these ‘functions’ forming intelligible wholes, corresponding to areas of experience, and see how they relate to one another at the brain level, this casts some light on the structure and experience of our mental world. In this sense the brain is – in fact it has to be – a metaphor of the world.

. . .

The mind–brain question is not the subject of this book, and it is not one I have the skill or the space to address at any length. The argument of the book does not depend on holding one view or another. But it is nonetheless legitimate to ask where the author of a book like this stands on it. Hence this very brief diversion.

One could call the mind the brain’s experience of itself. Such a formulation is immediately problematic, since the brain is involved in constituting the world in which, alone, there can be such a thing as experience – it helps to ground experience, for which mind is already needed. But let’s accept such a phrase at face value. Brain then necessarily gives structure to mind. That would not, however, equate mind and brain. It is sometimes assumed so, because of the tendency when using a phrase such as ‘the brain’s experience of itself’ to focus on the word ‘brain’, which we think we understand, rather than on the troublesome word ‘experience’, which we don’t.

All attempts at explanation depend, whether explicitly or implicitly, on drawing parallels between the thing to be explained and some other thing that we believe we already understand better. But the fundamental problem in explaining the experience of consciousness is that there is nothing else remotely like it to compare it with: it is itself the ground of all experience. There is nothing else which has the ‘inwardness’ that consciousness has. Phenomenologically, and ontologically, it is unique. As I will try to show, the analytic process cannot deal with uniqueness: there is an irresistible temptation for it to move from the uniqueness of something to its assumed non-existence, since the reality of the unique would have to be captured by idioms that apply to nothing else.

Is consciousness a product of the brain? The only certainty here is that anyone who thinks they can answer this question with certainty has to be wrong. We have only our conceptions of consciousness and of the brain to go on; and the one thing we do know for certain is that everything we know of the brain is a product of consciousness. That is, scientifically speaking, far more certain than that consciousness itself is a product of the brain. It may be or it may not; but what is an undeniable fact is the idea that there is a universe of things , in which there is one thing called the brain, and another thing called the mind, together with the scientific principles that would allow the one to emerge from the other – these are all ideas, products of consciousness, and therefore only as good as the particular models used by that consciousness to understand the world. We do not know if mind depends on matter, because everything we know about matter is itself a mental creation.

Sometimes McGilchrist's language makes it seem like he believes in primacy of consciousness, especially when he says thing like the mind creates the world, but, from careful reading and mulling, I think he sometimes echoes the style of the authors he discusses (like Descartes). He is not consistent on using that terminology.

He basically is referring to subjective experience when says things like that. In other words, I can focus on certain things that you will not even know exist. Therefore my perception of the world can be so different than yours, it can seem like they are different realities. Our minds are the main reason. And he expresses this as the mind creates reality. I admit this is sloppy, but that is the meaning I have teased out. And I did that because I am no fan of kneejerk reactions to trigger words except as a tool of persuasion. As cognition, kneejerk reactions suck. And in this case, it would have been quite easy to succumb to a kneejerk reaction (due to something using similar words that Rand bashed) and missed the entire meaning of what McGilchrist was saying.

So, after doing a bit of deep diving, the Randian (and Brandenian) position seems to me like the one he most touts, that you cannot divorce the agent from considerations about the agent since the agent is the one that makes consideration and thinking itself possible. I don't recall the exact phrases right now, but I can find the quotes if you like.

That's just one person.

And I haven't even covered what he says about the interactions between the brain and the mind except for a hint here and there in a few sentences I allowed to bleed over in the quotes. (Some of that stuff is mind-blowing, to coin a phrase in this context. 🙂 )

The only thing I am mentioning right now is that McGilchrist differentiates between consciousness and brain function, which you have promoted that hardly anybody in the science world believes. The truth is, he sees them intertwined, but not the same. And he certainly does not claim that mind emerged from brain in a deterministic or reductionist manner.

There are oodles of others who think along these lines. And they can be equally fascinating if you allow yourself to look.

Michael

 

EDIT: I want to especially draw attention to the following phrase: "But the fundamental problem in explaining the experience of consciousness is that there is nothing else remotely like it to compare it with: it is itself the ground of all experience. There is nothing else which has the ‘inwardness’ that consciousness has. Phenomenologically, and ontologically, it is unique."

This sounds so much like Rand and Branden in the early days when they said things like you can't prove existence. Existence is the standard of proof. Ditto for identity. In this respect, McGilchrist is saying that consciousness is the equivalent of an axiomatic concept. That you can't prove consciousness. Consciousness is the standard of proof (of awareness among other things).

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4 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:
4 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

"Is consciousness a product of the brain? The only certainty here is that anyone who can answer this question with certainty has to be wrong". [I.M.]

 

 

What other option?: The brain is the product of consciousness?  Geez. And how, "primacy of consciousness..."

"Two incompatible world views". [due to hemisphere differences]. There is a reality we can't know...

The human race is done for!

Even I can answer with (biological/philosophical) certainty that the consciousness IS the product of the brain. Emergent property.

Although he is not as skeptical as some, he still raises these fundamental doubts. A doubt which amounts to being as compromising of the mind as any skeptic. And I haven't read of him before. He is interesting, because I enjoy new and opposing views, whatever you believe.

Along these scientific lines,

Have you forgotten you heard me before (expressed quite often here)? being the most enthusiastic about newer studies in neuro-science?

"Neural pathways"? I voiced how terrific that was. Here is where science affirms philosophy - I said.

The "pathways" and "neuroplasticity" provide us the physical, neurological evidence for "a volitional consciousness" and the conceptual mind, I enthused!!

Here is the cusp between the mind and biology!! You and free will literally do "make up your mind-brain"!! The mind-body split is dis-proven through science.

I think so still.

"The brain's structure influences the mind". I. M.

Is he aware of the most critical fact -  the mind's activity "influences" the brain's structure??

(Back to the topic, please tell me your objections to the theory of emotions. How does that bear on this article?)

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

Emergent property.

Tony,

That's a speculation, not science.

You can't replicate this in a lab. At least not yet.

There are no mechanisms I am aware of that are even being tested.

(People who look know this. :evil: )

Michael

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

Is he aware of the most critical fact -  the mind's activity "influences" the brain's structure??

Tony,

This is tiresome.

Just look.

(Please, God, if you exist. Nudge this guy to LOOK before he sounds off trying to pose as an expert.)

The fucking book is well over 500 pages and McGilchrist is a scientist (among other things). The bibliography starts on Page 518 and runs to Page 575 in small type. You can see this on Amazon for free.

I'll give you a hint. A brain scientist who has not heard of neuroplasticity is like a child who has not heard of ice cream.

Now come to your own conclusion. And why not try to do a little better than a sorry attempt at a gotcha based on a concept you don't quite understand (how left and right hemispheres impact awareness both separately and in conjunction)?

Good God.

Are you even interested in this or are you just trying to be right regardless of the subject and strike a pose?

I'm not going to do any more of your homework.

That takes time and effort. You have to use your brain. At this level, I am wasting my time. I need to use my time, effort and brain for more productive things.

I have led you to one small pond in the vast wetlands. If you won't even take a sip there because you won't look, I have to give it a rest. I can understand not being interested. I can't understand not looking and claiming knowledge. Why am I even discussing this if questions like that are going to be your response? Apropos, why not ask if he is familiar with the English language and has studied the multiplication table while you're at it?

Let's do it this way.

All scientists--anywhere and everywhere for all time, past, present and future--are wrong about consciousness sight unseen. Why? Because they are wrong. Period. Every one of them. If only they would read Ayn Rand...

There.

Now we have a high-level intellectual discussion.

Now readers have something intellectual to chew on.

Done.

🙂 

Michael

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

(Back to the topic, please tell me your objections to the theory of emotions. How does that bear on this article?)

Tony,

I will answer this to be polite since it is left hanging.

1. I presented to you a cinderblock of a book, not an article.

2. The focus of that book is not on emotions and I am not going to go digging through those 500+ pages to see what I can find to prove or disprove Rand. I only brought that book up because I am reading it right now and you claimed all brain scientists (or at least most of them with exceptions hard to find) were reductionists about consciousness. I recently finished some comments by McGilchrist in that book where he talked about this and made it clear this was not his case.

(The odd thing is you later said consciousness emerged from the brain just like any reductionist worth his salt would... Jeez...)

3. On Rand's theory of emotions, she doesn't have one. She has propositions about emotions and that is all. 

4. My objections to those propositions are about the same as, say, my objections to phrenology. People used to say lumps on the skull were indications of character. Sometimes that worked. Sometimes it didn't.

Rand's propositions about emotions are in the same category (well, a bit better 🙂 ). With one exception. As a fiction writer, she could elicit emotions in readers like suspense, outrage, cathartic release in triumph, and so on like nobody's business. She even did well at tearjerking (think about the death of Wet Nurse). As an artist (and propagandist for that matter--don't forget that she boasted she was trained by the best in propaganda), she kicked ass with emotions. She was a virtuoso. But on the technical side of explaining what emotions are and how they operate, she was, at best, an intelligent amateur with a few interesting insights and a large sack full of opinions and metaphors, including a really poor metaphor she always favored about the mind being like a computer.

5. If you ever show an interest for real in what emotions are and how they work, I can point you to several places.

But I'm not interested in the Rand-was-right Rand-was-wrong game. I build my knowledge on adding to what I learned from Rand, not on trying to debunk her or defend her all the time. Sometimes this means looking at where she was weak and acknowledging it. And, when I come across something where she was weak, instead of going, "Aha! See?!!! See?!!! Gotcha, Ayn Rand!!! I know more than she did!!! She was wrong!!! Wrong!!! Wrong!!! LOLOLOLOL..."

I prefer to see what I can conserve of her insights and keep those as a frame for pegging my new knowledge to, or at least use them as a perspective for specific contexts. After all, my own worldview was structured around Objectivism. That didn't go anywhere just because I am super-curious and read other books. Nor do I want it to. That foundation is solid, especially as a starting point. So I always use the process I mentioned, even on Rand's statements about emotions, many of which I find lacking. Some of her statements are quite insightful for specific cases. Others not, especially her generalizations.

So who cares? Not me. I don't worry about what I have to let go when I find something more factual. And I am happy with what I can conserve.

Besides, life is too short to run around in circles all the time... 

Michael

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