BaalChatzaf

EEG. What it is and its limitation

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From the Wiki article on EEG

Limitations

EEG has several limitations. Most important is its poor spatial resolution. EEG is most sensitive to a particular set of post-synaptic potentials: those which are generated in superficial layers of the cortex, on the crests of gyri directly abutting the skull and radial to the skull. Dendrites which are deeper in the cortex, inside sulci, are in midline or deep structures (such as the cingulate gyrus or hippocampus) or produce currents which are tangential to the skull have far less contribution to the EEG signal.

The meninges, cerebrospinal fluid and skull "smear" the EEG signal, obscuring its intracranial source.

It is mathematically impossible to reconstruct a unique intercranial current source for a given EEG signal. This is referred to as the inverse problem.

[edit]

Michael, read the last sentence very, very carefully. Perhaps you will understand why an EEG can never be used as a Mind Reader.

The entire article is at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EEG

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Bob,

Here are the appropriate quotes from the other thread (for the convenience of readers).

You can have the last word, but I stand by my observations (and Wilber's experiment).

Michael

Bob,

I can use the same quality of argument about physics. People noticed stars as far back as recorded history, therefore cosmology is an ancient science. And so on.

The concept of individual rights (in practice) is only a few centuries old and the concept of a subconscious is even younger. You peg physics to Galileo because of "kinematic and dynamic mechanics," but do not use the same standard for social sciences and psychology.

What a strange desire to be contentious for the sake of arguing, and solely for that.

Michael

I am not being contentious. I am being accurate. I am a stickler for accuracy. Psychology is in pretty much the same shape it was during Aristotle's life time. A bundle of notions rooted in subjectivity. Which is why it is not a science. Neurophysiology is a science. Neurochemistry is a science. Why? Because they deal with things in the public domain of existence and can be checked by witnesses with measuring devices. Some day if the electrochemical activity of the brain can be accurately decoded and matched with internal perspectives then psychology will become a science.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Some day if the electrochemical activity of the brain can be accurately decoded and matched with internal perspectives then psychology will become a science.

Bob,

Boy, are you behind.

Michael

Some day if the electrochemical activity of the brain can be accurately decoded and matched with internal perspectives then psychology will become a science.

Bob,

Boy, are you behind.

Michael

Nothing in that T.V. blurb indicates a way for a second party to decode this man's thoughts looking at an EEG. EEG's have been around for 80 years. There is not enough resolution of electrical activity collected at the scalp to indicated what is going on deep in the brain.

The short version: there is no objective way for a second party to determined what someone is thinking from an EEG.

No mind reading at this time.

One of the things I used to do with my misspent youth was to do spectral analysis on EEG signals in the hope of extracting useful information about what was being thought. Nothing came of this line of research.

As I say, we have no mind reading at this time. We have to do it the old fashioned way. See what people write, utter and read their body language. Just about what was available to Aristotle.

Psychology is still a pseudo science.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Some day if the electrochemical activity of the brain can be accurately decoded and matched with internal perspectives then psychology will become a science.

This is not the only way for psycho-logics to become a science. In a science of man one can observe certain behaviours and notice that some lead to rapid progress and cooperation and others lead to wars and unhappiness. By studying the language used in relation to these extremes in behaviour we can draw conclusions about underlying processes. We do this in quantum physics now anyway, we can't directly observe quantum processes.

A good point. Behavior is external and can be witnessed in an intersubjective manner. In short, external behavior is objective.

HOWEVER, behavior can be faked. Actors do this for a living.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Nothing in that T.V. blurb indicates a way for a second party to decode this man's thoughts looking at an EEG. EEG's have been around for 80 years. There is not enough resolution of electrical activity collected at the scalp to indicated what is going on deep in the brain.

. . .

Psychology is still a pseudo science.

Bob,

Your answer is crap and you know it. Wilber essentially said: "I am suspending all emotion and shall do an intentional activity to control my brain via my own thoughts," and he registered the signals. It is measurable and repeatable. That is the basis of science.

By your complaints, logic and math are purely subjective because there is no way to ascertain them, i.e., they are carried out in the brain. What is logic and math to you might not be logic and math for me because I cannot observe what is in your brain. Right-e-o?

Yet you use the standard of logic and math for knowledge of all else.

Double standard time again...

Michael

Bob is right. The point is not that you can measure things in the brain and correlate those measurements with different brain states. We know that already for many decades, that's nothing new. What he is saying is that we cannot find out what someone is thinking by looking at the EEG signal. We probably never will be able to do that with the standard EEG, as this just doesn't contain the necessary information. It would be like determining what a computer does by measuring the temperature of the processor; that might tell you whether the processor is working hard or doing nothing, but it doesn't give you information about the individual bits and bytes.
Dragonfly,

Both you an Bob miss the point. Passive brain states are not being measured. The man is saying "I will do this" and then does it. Time and time again with the same results.

We certainly do know what he is thinking at those times. He is thinking on purpose, not randomly. And he has measured results to prove it.

Michael

Dragonfly,

Both you an Bob miss the point. Passive brain states are not being measured. The man is saying "I will do this" and then does it. Time and time again with the same results.

We certainly do know what he is thinking at those times. He is thinking on purpose, not randomly. And he has measured results to prove it.

Michael

I think you miss their point. When the person connected to the EEG brings the activity level to near zero, it is a case of the person NOT thinking. Bob's and Dragonfly's point (in my view) is that when the activity level is far from zero, one cannot tell the content of thought simply be looking at the EEG values.

I think you miss their point. When the person connected to the EEG brings the activity level to near zero, it is a case of the person NOT thinking. Bob's and Dragonfly's point (in my view) is that when the activity level is far from zero, one cannot tell the content of thought simply be looking at the EEG values.

Arrrghhh! Smart as paint ye arrrrre!

An EEG tells you no more what a person is thinking than an ECG or a blood pressure reading. All an EEG will tell yoi is if a person has something going on in his brain. There is no way to know what is going on for sure. Only the owner of a brain knows what is going on there, and then only if he is awake and functioning.

In terms of -mental- states we are Black Boxes to each other. When A perceives B, A and only sees (i.e. perceives) the external manifestations of B. A cannot read B's mind. There is no way of doing that with the current technology. And since people lie, one can't rely on what they say, write or on their body language. One must guess what the other is thinking. The only thing one KNOWS for sure is what they themselves perceive directly. Anything else is guess or inference or hypothesis.

Most of the things we claim to know are second hand reports from others which might be true or might not.

Ba'al Chatzaf

I think you miss their point. When the person connected to the EEG brings the activity level to near zero, it is a case of the person NOT thinking. Bob's and Dragonfly's point (in my view) is that when the activity level is far from zero, one cannot tell the content of thought simply be looking at the EEG values.

Merlin,

I disagree. You not only see the person NOT thinking once he gets to the state, you see him actively willing himself there over a short amount of time. And you see visual proof of it in measurable and repeatable terms.

It is active proof that thought is an action and not a thing (so far).

I am starting to believe that the insistence on ignoring this by the scientifically oriented is more religious in nature than scientific. Wilber's experiment makes a barbecue out of a reductionist sacred cow.

Michael

Please don't hook this thread up to that machine.

--Brant

Michael,

Apparently you still don't get it. From an EEG you (or an expert) might be able to tell that a person is thinking, but not what he or she is thinking about. Please somebody send Michael an EEG and let him (or an expert) try to figure out if the person is thinking about love, work, philosophy, a mathematical proof, his/her neighbor, his/her next meal, or whatever.

This is my last attempt. I don't know how it could be clearer.

Merlin,

It's obvious to me that the guy is thinking about shutting down his brain waves. Then he does. This isn't really all that complicated.

What does the movement of sound look like? You can only tell by patterns in molecules that are not sound. What's the difference here?

I never hear people say that you cannot determine what sound really is because it is intangible.

Or how about gravity? Is it measured or not? If so, how? Measuring what the gravity "really is"?

Michael

I disagree. You not only see the person NOT thinking once he gets to the state, you see him actively willing himself there over a short amount of time. And you see visual proof of it in measurable and repeatable terms.

It is active proof that thought is an action and not a thing (so far).

Indeed thought is. But an EEG (a crude device that can only detect surface electrical activity) provides data that indicates something is happening. Noone knows how to backtrack from the data and figure out what was going on in the brain of the subject. The EEG is NOT a mind reading machine.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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From the Wiki article on EEG

Limitations

EEG has several limitations. Most important is its poor spatial resolution. EEG is most sensitive to a particular set of post-synaptic potentials: those which are generated in superficial layers of the cortex, on the crests of gyri directly abutting the skull and radial to the skull. Dendrites which are deeper in the cortex, inside sulci, are in midline or deep structures (such as the cingulate gyrus or hippocampus) or produce currents which are tangential to the skull have far less contribution to the EEG signal.

The meninges, cerebrospinal fluid and skull "smear" the EEG signal, obscuring its intracranial source.

It is mathematically impossible to reconstruct a unique intercranial current source for a given EEG signal. This is referred to as the inverse problem.

[edit]

Michael, read the last sentence very, very carefully. Perhaps you will understand why an EEG can never be used as a Mind Reader.

The entire article is at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EEG

Ba'al Chatzaf

<AHEM!> This just in (posted to multiple psychology-related lists on yahoo.com):

Researchers can read thoughts to decipher what a person is actually seeing

Following ground-breaking research showing that neurons in the human brain respond in an abstract manner to particular individuals or objects, University of Leicester researchers have now discovered that, from the firing of this type of neuron, they can tell what a person is actually seeing.

The original research by Dr R Quian Quiroga, of the University’s Department of Engineering, showed that one neuron fired to, for instance, Jennifer Aniston, another one to Halle Berry, another one to the Sydney Opera House, etc.

The responses were abstract. For example, the neuron firing to Halle Berry responded to several different pictures of her and even to the letters of her name, but not to other people or names.

This result, published in Nature in 2005 and selected as one of the top 100 scientific stories of the year by Discover Magazine, came from data from patients suffering from epilepsy. As candidates for epilepsy surgery, they are implanted with intracranial electrodes to determine as accurately as possible the area where the seizures originate. From that, clinicians can evaluate the potential outcome of curative surgery.

Dr Quian Quiroga’s latest research, which has appeared in the Journal of Neurophysiology, follows on from this.

Dr Quian Quiroga explained: “For example, if the 'Jennifer Aniston neuron' increases its firing then we can predict that the subject is seeing Jennifer Aniston. If the 'Halle Berry neuron' fires, then we can predict that the subject is seeing Halle Berry, and so on.

“To do this, we used and optimised a 'decoding algorithms', which is a mathematical method to infer the stimulus from the neuronal firing. We also needed to optimise our recording and data processing tools to record simultaneously from as many neurons as possible. Currently we are able to record simultaneously from up to 100 neurons in the human brain.

“In these experiments we presented a large database of pictures, and discovered that we can predict what picture the subject is seeing far above chance. So, in simple words, we can read the human thought from the neuronal activity.

“Once we reached this point, we then asked what are the most fundamental features of the neuronal firing that allowed us to make this predictions. This gave us the chance of studying basic principles of neural coding; i.e. how information is stored by neurons in the brain.

“For example, we found that there is a very limited time window in the neuronal firing that contains most of the information used for such predictions. Interestingly, neurons fired only 4 spikes in average during this time window. So, in another words, only 4 spikes of a few neurons are already telling us what the patient is seeing.”

Potential applications of this discovery include the development of Neural Prosthetic devices to be used by paralysed patients or amputees. A patient with a lesion in the spinal cord (as with the late Christopher Reeves), can still think about reaching a cup of tea with his arm, but this order is not transmitted to the muscles.

The idea of Neural Prostheses is to read these commands directly from the brain and transmit them to bionic devices such as a robotic arm that the patient could control directly from the brain.

Dr Quian Quiroga’s work showing that it is possible to read signals from the brain is a good step forward in this direction. But there are still clinical and ethical issues that have to be resolved before Neural Prosthetic devices can be applied in humans.

In particular, these would involve invasive surgery, which would have to be justified by a clear improvement for the patient before it could be undertaken.

Source: University of Leicester

http://www.physorg.com/news116155837.html

REB

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This is a duplicate of a post on the other thread where REB cross-posted the above.

<AHEM!> This just in (posted to multiple psychology-related lists on yahoo.com):

Researchers can read thoughts to decipher what a person is actually seeing

Roger,

You posted quotes from and the link to the article on both this thread and the EEG thread, in both cases picking up from one of Bob's posts in which he said that the EEG isn't a mind-reading device. Are you thinking that the results cited somehow contradict that an EEG isn't a mind-reading device? The researchers were using "implanted [...] intracranial electrodes," not EEGs.

Ellen

___

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This is a duplicate of a post on the other thread where REB cross-posted the above.
<AHEM!> This just in (posted to multiple psychology-related lists on yahoo.com):

Researchers can read thoughts to decipher what a person is actually seeing

Roger,

You posted quotes from and the link to the article on both this thread and the EEG thread, in both cases picking up from one of Bob's posts in which he said that the EEG isn't a mind-reading device. Are you thinking that the results cited somehow contradict that an EEG isn't a mind-reading device? The researchers were using "implanted [...] intracranial electrodes," not EEGs.

Ellen

___

No, Ellen. I was arguing the general point. I'm not a non-discriminating idiot, any more than you are a concrete-bound moron, so let's exercise a little charity and move on to the real issue.

Surely Bob is not just arguing (right, Bob?) that EEG's can't be used for "mind-reading," but that electrical/electronic devices in general cannot be so used. I.e., that mental processes are inescapably "subjective" and unperceivable/unidentifiable by outside observers.

Sorry I didn't dot the "i", but I don't think it's all that mysterious what I was driving at.

REB

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Surely Bob is not just arguing (right, Bob?) that EEG's can't be used for "mind-reading," but that electrical/electronic devices in general cannot be so used. I.e., that mental processes are inescapably "subjective" and unperceivable/unidentifiable by outside observers.

I sure didn't understand him to be arguing that. He's nothing if not a thorough-going materialist. I thought he was saying, in general, that technology hasn't advanced far enough to specify what thought a person is having and, in particular, that an EEG isn't ever going to advance that far, since by its nature it's too crude.

We'll find out tomorrow, I suppose, which of us interpreted him a-right. ;-)

Ellen

___

Edited by Ellen Stuttle

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Surely Bob is not just arguing (right, Bob?) that EEG's can't be used for "mind-reading," but that electrical/electronic devices in general cannot be so used. I.e., that mental processes are inescapably "subjective" and unperceivable/unidentifiable by outside observers.

I sure didn't understand him to be arguing that. He's nothing if not a thorough-going materialist. I thought he was saying, in general, that technology hasn't advanced far enough to specify what thought a person is having and, in particular, that an EEG isn't ever going to advance that far, since by its nature it's too crude.

We'll find out tomorrow, I suppose, which of us interpreted him a-right. ;-)

Ellen

___

Arrrgghhhh! Smarrrrrt as paint ye arrrrrre!

EEG detect voltage difference do to electrical activity near the surface of the brain. None of our scanners measure electrical activity deep in the brain because doing so would involve heavily invasive measurements that would almost certainly injure the brain. And even if we could get a thorough scan of electrical activity we have no theory that would map such measurements back to specific thoughts.

The most thorough non invasive scan of the brain is done by MRI machines which detect variations in the magnetic fields produced by spin of the electrons in the molecules of the brain. MRI machines produce very accurate pictures of brain tissue. To detect neural activity requires a PET scan which is mildly invasive. Low level radioactive material is introduced into the circulation and the absorbtion of the radioactive material in various portions of the brain are measured in real time. This gives an accurate picture of relative activities in various portions of the brain, but cannot be used to indicate what thoughts are occurring. So a PET scanner is not a mind reading machine either. Our thoughts are as private as we wish to keep them.

And yes indeed, I am a thorough materialist. I do not believe there exists any more than matter and energy in space and time. That is all there is. We are dust in the wind. We are meat that walks and talks. And there is no literal mind. There is no soul, there are no spirits, there are no ghosts. There are only the brain, nerve tissues and glands. That is all that anyone can detect in another person. I understand that many of you humans entertain the illusion that there is a thinking person living inside your head, but that is your delusion, not mine. I have no mind. I only have a functioning brain.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Surely Bob is not just arguing (right, Bob?) that EEG's can't be used for "mind-reading," but that electrical/electronic devices in general cannot be so used. I.e., that mental processes are inescapably "subjective" and unperceivable/unidentifiable by outside observers.

I sure didn't understand him to be arguing that. He's nothing if not a thorough-going materialist. I thought he was saying, in general, that technology hasn't advanced far enough to specify what thought a person is having and, in particular, that an EEG isn't ever going to advance that far, since by its nature it's too crude.

We'll find out tomorrow, I suppose, which of us interpreted him a-right. ;-)

Ellen

___

Arrrgghhhh! Smarrrrrt as paint ye arrrrrre!

EEG detect voltage difference do to electrical activity near the surface of the brain. None of our scanners measure electrical activity deep in the brain because doing so would involve heavily invasive measurements that would almost certainly injure the brain. And even if we could get a thorough scan of electrical activity we have no theory that would map such measurements back to specific thoughts.

The most thorough non invasive scan of the brain is done by MRI machines which detect variations in the magnetic fields produced by spin of the electrons in the molecules of the brain. MRI machines produce very accurate pictures of brain tissue. To detect neural activity requires a PET scan which is mildly invasive. Low level radioactive material is introduced into the circulation and the absorbtion of the radioactive material in various portions of the brain are measured in real time. This gives an accurate picture of relative activities in various portions of the brain, but cannot be used to indicate what thoughts are occurring. So a PET scanner is not a mind reading machine either. Our thoughts are as private as we wish to keep them.

And yes indeed, I am a thorough materialist. I do not believe there exists any more than matter and energy in space and time. That is all there is. We are dust in the wind. We are meat that walks and talks. And there is no literal mind. There is no soul, there are no spirits, there are no ghosts. There are only the brain, nerve tissues and glands. That is all that anyone can detect in another person. I understand that many of you humans entertain the illusion that there is a thinking person living inside your head, but that is your delusion, not mine. I have no mind. I only have a functioning brain.

Ba'al Chatzaf

OK, Bob, I get the joke. If there's no such thing as thought, no literal mind, only a functioning brain, then intelligence, being "smart" is akin to a form of matter or energy--viz., paint. Har-har.

But who's "smart as paint"? Sounds like Bob is patting Ellen on the head. But I'm the one who says that Bob is arguing that "mental processes are inescapably 'subjective' and unperceivable/unidentifiable by outside observers," and he seems to agree that neither EEG, MRI, or PET are "mind reading machines" and that "our thoughts are as private as we wish to keep them." Sounds like a match to me.

I'm the one who says that Bob is arguing that no technology is or will ever be able to "read minds," and Bab says there are no thoughts to read or specify, while Ellen says he is simply arguing that technology hasn't progressed far enough yet to specify what thoughts we're having. Now Bob says there are no thoughts to read or specify.

So, in the world of intellectual paint, who is the latex and who is the enamel? Sounds like Bob is using too broad a brush to me. :-)

REB

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OK, Bob, I get the joke. If there's no such thing as thought, no literal mind, only a functioning brain, then intelligence, being "smart" is akin to a form of matter or energy--viz., paint. Har-har.

Thoughts are as real as rain. They are neural discharges in the brain. Electrochemical processes. I had a PET scan and I saw the physical manifestations of my thoughts. Various parts of my brain "lit up" as they absorbed more of the radioactive medium introduced into my blood stream as part of the scan.

Our -experience- with our thoughts is subjective, but the thoughts themselves (i.e. the electrochemical processes) are quite real. Which is why we cannot "read" the thoughts of others and comprehend them in the same way as we comprehend our own thoughts. In fact, one could not categorically prove anyone but one's self has thoughts although you could point to the physiological processes that are displayed by the PET scan.

There is a basic problem: There is no empirical evidence that positively proves anyone but one's self thinks or has a mind (the illusory experience of a sentient entity that sits in our head but is not physically detectable).

Ba'al Chatzaf

Edited by BaalChatzaf

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I'm the one who says that Bob is arguing that no technology is or will ever be able to "read minds," and Bab says there are no thoughts to read or specify, while Ellen says he is simply arguing that technology hasn't progressed far enough yet to specify what thoughts we're having. Now Bob says there are no thoughts to read or specify.

So, in the world of intellectual paint, who is the latex and who is the enamel? Sounds like Bob is using too broad a brush to me. :-)

REB

At this point -- see his post #9 -- I think he's painting with a self-exclusionary brush: i.e., there are thoughts and there aren't.

Ellen

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The question whether the mind "exists" is merely a semantic squabble. Of course the mind is not a physical object, with mass, energy, momentum etc. It is a dynamic structure in the brain. Let me illustrate this with a simple example: suppose there exists some molecule with three atoms in an equilateral triangle. We could describe this molecule as an object with "equilateraltriangleness" or ET. Now ET is not a physical object, so in that sense it does not "exist". But we can perform experiments which consistently are in agreement with the ET of the molecule, so in that sense ET is an objective and experimentally verifiable property. Now we can see the mind in a similar way as a property, related to the dynamic structure, of the brain, and as such it is in principle also experimentally verifiable. Whether we ever will be able to do that in practice, by being able to find the correspondence between firing neurons and the content of thoughts, is questionable. The problem is the staggering complexity of the system. Even if it is possible, it will no doubt be something of the far future. Today it is far beyond our possibilities. What we do know is that it will be impossible by using an EEG, as this signal just contains far too little information.

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But who's "smart as paint"? Sounds like Bob is patting Ellen on the head.

Roger,

Two lumps of meat interacting, of course. Nothing more.

Up here we call them sweetbreads. The thought of eating all those veal thoughts is quite gruesome, I say, so I have never ever done so.

Not to put too fine a point on my lancet, Michael, but if there is anything in the human corpse less like meat, it would have to be brains. The brain is actually remarkably stupid, as meat goes: no proprioception, no pain receptors, has trouble 'grasping,' eats only sugar, potassium and salt, couldn't get out of a paper bag without assistance . . . etcetera.

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The question whether the mind "exists" is merely a semantic squabble. Of course the mind is not a physical object, with mass, energy, momentum etc. It is a dynamic structure in the brain. Let me illustrate this with a simple example: suppose there exists some molecule with three atoms in an equilateral triangle. We could describe this molecule as an object with "equilateraltriangleness" or ET. Now ET is not a physical object, so in that sense it does not "exist". But we can perform experiments which consistently are in agreement with the ET of the molecule, so in that sense ET is an objective and experimentally verifiable property. Now we can see the mind in a similar way as a property, related to the dynamic structure, of the brain, and as such it is in principle also experimentally verifiable. Whether we ever will be able to do that in practice, by being able to find the correspondence between firing neurons and the content of thoughts, is questionable. The problem is the staggering complexity of the system. Even if it is possible, it will no doubt be something of the far future. Today it is far beyond our possibilities. What we do know is that it will be impossible by using an EEG, as this signal just contains far too little information.

Using your definitions, find a mind in someone other than yourself, in a such a way that it cannot be described in terms of external manifestations such as speech, body language, behavior, etc. etc. In short, is your notion of mind necessary to describe and explain the facts you observe? Is it sufficient to describe and explain the facts you observe. If the answer to these questions are not both affirmative, then you have potentially a bogus concept (or should I say, anti-concept).

I have had MRI scans, PET scans and I will be damned if I can find my own mind in any of these sophisticated scans. If a zillion dollar device cannot reveal my mind to me, why should I believe that it exists?

If all "mind" is is a complicated predicate that is decomposable into material elements and relations then all it is, is a hypothesis, not a fact. And furthermore the facts can be explained or described in a manner that does not assume "mind". Your notion of mind is about as good as that of aether.

If you don't have a mathematical model of "mind" all you have is feeble notion. Physics could not be based on such qualities and notions, why should anything else be so based.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Using your definitions, find a mind in someone other than yourself, in a such a way that it cannot be described in terms of external manifestations such as speech, body language, behavior, etc. etc. In short, is your notion of mind necessary to describe and explain the facts you observe? Is it sufficient to describe and explain the facts you observe. If the answer to these questions are not both affirmative, then you have potentially a bogus concept (or should I say, anti-concept).

Anti-concepts don't exist. I'll give an analogy. Consider the concept "gene", discovered by Mendel (although he used a different term). In the 19th century this was still a rather hypothetical concept, nothing was known about DNA and chromosomes and all that jazz. So at the time no one could describe it except in terms of external manifestations such as heredity of certain traits. Was "gene" therefore an invalid concept? Of course not. Another analogy: suppose we show a computer to someone who has never heard about computers and doesn't know what they are. We teach him how he can use the computer and soon he is busy exploring all the possibities of this wonderful instrument. He hasn't the foggiest idea what is happening inside that box, but in the course of time he gets a good idea how you can work with it: if you do this it will react by doing that, etc. He'll get some notion of the concept software, even if it is still rather vague. But after some computer courses he's got a better understanding and he's even able to write some programs himself. But he still has no idea how this "software" is connected to those chips, transistors, currents etc. in the box. Is he now justified in saying: "software is not a valid concept, I don't see the software in the box, I see only external manifestations on my computer screen"? Of course not. He should follow some more computer courses to learn about the connection between the hardware and the software. Back to the mind: the mind is the software of the brain, it is a higher-level description of the functioning brain; we are now at the stage that is similar to the early state of the learning process of the computer illiterate. We know the external manifestations of the mind, like speech, and on the other hand we know that it must be based on things happening in the brain, like neurons firing etc. What we still do not know is how that software is in fact embedded in that hardware. Perhaps we'll never be able to know this in detail, only in a rather global manner. But that doesn't make the concept mind an invalid concept.

I have had MRI scans, PET scans and I will be damned if I can find my own mind in any of these sophisticated scans. If a zillion dollar device cannot reveal my mind to me, why should I believe that it exists?

Perhaps one of your ancestors said to Mendel: "I've studied biology, I've looked through microscopes, but nowhere I've found your genes! If our expensive instruments can't reveal it, why should I believe that they exist?" Mendel might have answered: "I don't know how these genes [or whatever term he used] can be reduced to biological structures, but as a good reductionist I trust that one day we'll find the answer. In the meantime genes are a useful concept, as I can do reproducible experiments that confirm that hypothesis."

And if you look with expensive microscopes at the processor or the memory of a computer, can you see then the software? So there! That argument may be good rhethoric, but it is not very convincing.

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And if you look with expensive microscopes at the processor or the memory of a computer, can you see then the software? So there! That argument may be good rhethoric, but it is not very convincing.

Hex dump of store contents. Next question? Just because we need a representation for internal states does not mean internal states do not exist.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Hex dump of store contents.

I didn't say "make a hex dump", I said "if you look at it with a microscope" to mirror your MRI scans and PET scans. Before you can make a hex dump and use it to get information you must know how to do that and how the hex numbers correspond to software instructions and data. Merely looking at a processor with advanced instruments won't tell you that.

Next question? Just because we need a representation for internal states does not mean internal states do not exist.

Exactly. For the computer we know how the hex dump gives a representation of the internal states (no big deal, we invented the representation ourselves). For the brain we do not know how the internal states are represented, so we don't have the means to make a hex dump of the brain, so obviously we can't read the mind states with our instruments. At most we can detect regions with high activity and regions with low activity, no matter how expensive the instruments. Surprise, surprise.

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the means to make a hex dump of the brain, so obviously we can't read the mind states with our instruments. At most we can detect regions with high activity and regions with low activity, no matter how expensive the instruments. Surprise, surprise.

Brain states. Calling them mind states begs the question. All of our instruments do not reveal a mind in a body we don't own. Perhaps there is nothing to reveal.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Brain states or mind states: it is the same thing, only at a different level of description, just like the hardware states and the software states in a computer. (Combinations of) hardware voltages are isomorph to abstract bits and words.

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Brain states or mind states: it is the same thing, only at a different level of description, just like the hardware states and the software states in a computer. (Combinations of) hardware voltages are isomorph to abstract bits and words.

In other words, purely physical. It is res extensa you speak of. Res cogitens does not exist. That is one of Descartes brain-farts.

O.K. We are on the same page. Everything that exists is physical. All there is, are energy, matter in spacetime. Nothing else.

Vast diversity in uncounted combinations.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Brain states or mind states: it is the same thing, only at a different level of description, just like the hardware states and the software states in a computer. (Combinations of) hardware voltages are isomorph to abstract bits and words.

In other words, purely physical. It is res extensa you speak of. Res cogitens does not exist. That is one of Descartes brain-farts.

O.K. We are on the same page. Everything that exists is physical. All there is, are energy, matter in spacetime. Nothing else.

Vast diversity in uncounted combinations.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Please allow me to enter this, I hesitate to call it a discussion. Ba'al, I am struck by your claim of omniscience, "All there is, are energy, matter in spacetime. Nothing else."

Earlier you claim "everything that exists is physical." How do you claim that there is such a "thing" as "spacetime?" Is spacetime "physical?"

If something as non physical as either space or time is allowed in your conception of the universe of stuff, why not Consciousness?

You may not acknowledge that you are aware of anything or that you have a faculty of awareness which we call consciousness but I acknowledge that I do. I infer that beings similar to me have the same faculty, meaning that they are also conscious, although the content of their consciousness various as mine does from moment to moment. I likewise infer that their consciousness has the same possible processes that I can introspect and appreciate that my mind has.

I think you are perhaps, if not actually "guilty" of the error of "the stolen concept" at least you do not give evidence of innocence.

When I first encountered a human being who spoke of Objectivism he mentioned that there are two axiomatic concepts, to wit, Existence and Consciousness. Given that they are axiomatic it is not possible to "prove" that they are so to anyone who denies any grasp of either one. You appear to be in that category as you consider yourself to be devoid of consciousness.

This discussion brings to mind the conflict between Freudians and early advocates of Behaviorism. Frustrated with the blatant subjectivism of the Freudians, the Behaviorists tried to be scientific by adhering to their understanding of the scientific method which entails observation and confirmation of the observations of others. Unfortunately they limited themselves to extrospection, looking and collecting data on what independent observers could see out in the world with their senses.

As Branden has so eloquently pointed out that in so doing they cut themselves off completely from the phenomenon they were ostensibly trying to study, the nature of human consciousness. He mentioned as I recall that to refer to themselves as psychologists was in error for they denied, as you are doing, the existence of human consciousness, the psyche.

At this point I must assume the same position that I have learned to do when dealing with other humans who accept things on faith and have no regard or respect for reason and rational evidence. It is not possible to trade values with someone who does not accept the same medium of exchange, in this case reason. I realize you have no idea what I am talking about when I use the word reason because it is a non physical entity, kind of like space and time.

This was fun. It is hard to believe you are not just being the Devil's Advocate in this discussion. It is tempting to tell you to go back to Hell where you came from but that would be uncivilized. At the risk of sounding omniscient myself I must confess to belief that the universe contains not just matter, but also energy, and although I do not accept the allegations by some misguided souls, I do not believe in either ghosts, an afterlife, extrasensory perception, magic, virgin births, supernatural realms, monotheistic nor pantheistic gods, Heaven nor Hell, the Christian soul, although I must admit that along with Sir Isaac Newton the very reality of gravity is mindboggling. in addition to matter and energy, the reality of consciousness of the volitional conceptual level is self evident to me as well. Although consciousness does not exist independently of beings it does have faculties and powers of its own.

To sum up, there is no talking to you!

galt

Edited by galtgulch

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Space-time.

Space does not exist except that things exist and they occupy "space." Take away the things and "space" disappears. But all things--everything--must be taken away. So when Ba'al is saying "space" he is referring to things.

Time is the measurement of motion. There are various types of motion, hence times, but all things move. Again, motion also means things. Space-time is things-things.

--Brant

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Space-time.

Space does not exist except that things exist and they occupy "space." Take away the things and "space" disappears. But all things--everything--must be taken away. So when Ba'al is saying "space" he is referring to things.

Time is the measurement of motion. There are various types of motion, hence times, but all things move. Again, motion also means things. Space-time is things-things.

--Brant

Not to my way of thinking. There is certainly space between things. Move the things farther apart and there is even more space between them. Space may contain matter if there happens to be a thing occupying that space but if there is no mass present then so called empty space is devoid of matter and is not a thing anymore than a thought is a thing of the mass type.

There are things which have no mass such as thoughts. But of course I may be wrong. Likewise one may talk about an argument which carries "weight" or not. Still I have never made sense out of the idea that space does not exist without matter. Where is this happening?

To contend that the universe is expanding meaning that the galaxies are moving farther and farther apart thereby "creating" space as they go is absurd. It contends that there was no space into which the galaxies move. The implication is that there must be matter and masses infinitely farther out to generate the space between the galaxies we know and the infinitely distant matter.

It was always inconceivable to me that there is such a wall somewhere out there beyond everything. Made of what? Not to mention nothing on the other side!

A is A

Remember to call 1 800 RON PAUL on Sunday to join the R EVOL UTION and feel the excitement. I predict that there is no stopping his campaign. Anyone uninspired by any of the other candidates will be attracted to the growing momentum of Ron Paul's campaign. He makes sense, advocates a return to the Constitutional limits of government, is willing to challenge the status quo, clearly has been a man of principle all his years in the Congress. Newcomers will be able to find something within his issues that is appealing. At some point the number of his supporters will begin to grow exponentially!

galt

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Not to my way of thinking. There is certainly space between things. Move the things farther apart and there is even more space between them. Space may contain matter if there happens to be a thing occupying that space but if there is no mass present then so called empty space is devoid of matter and is not a thing anymore than a thought is a thing of the mass type.

There are things which have no mass such as thoughts. But of course I may be wrong. Likewise one may talk about an argument which carries "weight" or not. Still I have never made sense out of the idea that space does not exist without matter. Where is this happening?

Thoughts are motions of electrons through a semi-permeable membrane in the brain and various chemical reactions in the inter neuron gap. The motions and the reactions havbe energy which converts to mass by way of Einstein's well known equation. Thoughts are matter in motion. The particles in motion are electrons which have non zero rest mass.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Baal's statement would be better phrased "Everything can be reduced to energy, matter in spacetime", including what we call 'mind' or 'consciousness'. Also Galt, technically there is only space-time, not space and time, there's a difference. Space-time has a structure and the presence of matter alters the structure of space-time. Unfortunately, it is difficult to imagine space-time because it involve 4 dimensions and so cannot be readily visualized.

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