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

by dhw, Sunday, June 25, 2017, 14:32 (507 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: These two theories are contradictory. While bearing in mind the distinction between immaterial ideas and the material implementation of those ideas (which entails an inseparable relationship between mind and brain), perhaps you would just clarify for us which of these two conflicting views you hold: 1) the brain is the source of the mind, which depends on the brain for its capacity to think; 2) the brain is not the source of the mind, which produces its immaterial thoughts, ideas etc. independently of the brain.
DAVID: Neither: based on NDE's the brain receives an independent consciousness mechanism which is immaterial and from infancy learns to use and shape it from a blank slate to an operative mechanism.

Here you have the brain learning to use and shape consciousness, although the brain is only a receiver.

DAVID: The computer analogy is not entirely accurate, but as I learn to operate my brain and its consciousness, the brain has the physical ability to modify itself to fit my actions both physically and mentally.

There is no disagreement over the plasticity of the brain. The question is what moulds or “modifies” it, but according to your first sentence it is the brain that uses and shapes (= moulds/modifies) consciousness. In your second sentence there is a “you” that operates (= “learns to use and shape”?) both the brain and the BRAIN’s consciousness, although you say consciousness is independent of the brain and – crucially – you believe that “you” and your consciousness are an entity which survives the death of the body and brain. This ought to mean that the entity of you/your consciousness learns to operate the brain, as opposed to the brain using and shaping you/your consciousness. We can unravel this tangled web if you give a straightforward answer to a straightforward question: do you believe that the brain is the source of our capacity to think? But I suspect that you would rather not answer in the light of the following:

DAVID: To go back to hominins, each enlargement of the brain allows greater mental capacity, since it is the thinking pre-frontal and frontal areas that enlarge. The physical areas such as the laryngeal control regions develop as the larynx moves caudally to allow language to develop. the whole process reaches a pinnacle in Neanderthal and sapiens. Physical controls as for spear throwing and running arrive as the shoulders an pelvis change from ape like to human like.

I am aware of the history. The question is whether 1) mental changes, language, spear-making and spear-throwing etc. resulted from physical changes, or 2) mental changes resulted in physical changes that allowed for the implementation of concepts such as language, spear-making etc.. You seem to be opting for the former, which means the brain is the source of our capacity to think. I don’t know how you reconcile this with your belief that the capacity to think will survive the death of the brain.

DAVID: But where you are totally confused is in the recognition that habilis does not know what it does not know. Its demonstrated concepts in its artifacts show what it was capable of producing. This is true at each stage of brain case enlargement.

No confusion. The question is whether a) habilis’s artefacts were produced as a result of its own particular increase in brain capacity, or b) its conceptualization of its artefacts resulted in its increased brain capacity. This question applies to each stage of brain case enlargement. You are opting for the former, which means the brain is the source of our capacity to think. I don’t know how you reconcile this with your belief that the capacity to think will survive the death of the brain. (I may have said this before!)

The rest of your post ranges over a wide field of subjects we have already discussed on other threads.


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