Evolution and humans: big brain size or use (Evolution)

by dhw, Sunday, June 04, 2017, 13:24 (745 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: World's Oldest Spears - Archaeology Magazine Archive
www.archive.archaeology.org/9705/newsbriefs/spears.html
QUOTE: “The spears show design and construction skills previously attributed only to modern humans. "They are really high tech," says Hartmut Thieme of the Institut für Denkmalpflege in Hannover, who discovered them while excavating in advance of a rotary shovel digger used in the mine. "They are made of very tough Picea [spruce] trunk and are similarly carved." Their frontal center of gravity suggests they were used as javelins, says Thieme.

DAVID: I'm sure these spears developed by trial and error and our ancestors could do a bit of thinking and experimenting. This is practical conceptualization, n ot terribly advanced like the past 10,000 years.

I am not comparing their achievements with ours. I am merely pointing out that long before homo sapiens there was “thinking and experimenting” far in advance of what chimps are capable of. And of course it was practical – so too are guns and rockets and bombs. Practical conceptualization is still conceptualization, and if conscious thought is the source of concepts, it would have led to earlier expansions of the brain, just as it now leads to densifying.

dhw: This is why you keep contradicting yourself. It was consciousness and not the big brain that devised calculus, and I'll bet the brain densified as a result, just as it would have expanded as a result of consciousness wanting to produce sophisticated weapons.
DAVID: You keep contradicting me by changing my concept of brain/consciousness interface. My brain and my thinking uses the mechanism of consciousness to develop calculus. My consciousness did not do it on its own.

You have now agreed several times that you, your thinking and your consciousness are all one, and according to YOUR concepts, this entity uses the brain and can exist independently of the brain. How else could you, your thinking, your consciousness survive the death of the brain, as is your stated belief?
In response to my attempt at summarizing the process you write:

DAVID: None of this fits my view of the brain/consciousness relationship as explained above. Whatever is your previously learned philosophic interpretation of dualism is getting in the way of understanding my concept, based on the brain as a receiver of a mechanism called consciousness, which none of us understand what it is or how it works, but we work with it constantly. It doesn't forcefully run my thoughts, I do.

Once again, you, your self, your mind, your consciousness, your thoughts are all one, according to your belief in an afterlife in which you, your self, your consciousness and your thoughts exist but your brain doesn’t. Yes, the brain is the receiver not the generator of thought. It has been demonstrated that thought changes the structure of the brain (densifying) and not the other way round. It therefore seems logical that the same process would apply to size – that thought led to size and size did not lead to thought.

DAVID: 200,000 years ago H sapiens arrived with a brain perfectly capable of running their physical athletic affairs, handling a basic language and growing a cooperative society of hunter-gatherers in small groups. 50,000 years ago we think more complex language, 10,000 years ago agriculture, habitations not caves. 20,000 years ago the brain began to densify from the increasing use. It is completely obvious, size first and use second. And size came from God since it wasn't needed or used 200,000 years ago, but came to be used as we learned how to. Learning how to use it came naturally but took a long time. It was a process of discovery of what was available in planning and conceptualizing.

I’m not disputing the first part of your comment, up until “20,000 years ago…”, but you are missing out all the stages that led to the brain of 200,000 years ago. This is why earlier conceptualizations are so important. Somewhere along the evolutionary line, we get a (God-given?) small brain. Let’s take that as our starting point. If consciousness (not the brain) is the source of conceptualization, and if thought influences the structure of the brain – as shown by the article you quoted – you would have had a sequence of expansions as consciousness came up with new ideas. Conscious use demands a bigger brain, i.e. use leads to expansion: use first, size second. 200,000 years ago, expansion ends. So yes of course that final size comes before all later uses of the brain, but each expansion has been the RESULT of conceptualization, not the CAUSE, because – according to you - the brain is only a receiver and not a generator. Having reached its maximum size, the brain is then used by you/consciousness according to whatever information it provides, and when it can no longer accommodate all the new thoughts of consciousness, it densifies.

May I now ask how you know that densification only began 20,000 years ago? If this is true and, to take one extremely important example, if human language really did emerge 50,000 years ago along with changes to the vocal tracts, I find it quite astonishing that there was no densifying or restructuring of the brain at that time. How has this been established?


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