the excluded middle way

“we are nothing but a loom of electricity and enzymes”

And yet… from the inside… “we feel like the ghost, not like the machine”.

This is a great summary of the two fundamental perspectives in psychology. Thank you c4chaos for a great spot from the LA Times.

C4CHAOS wrote:

Jonah Lehrer has an insightful article on the LA Times urging neuroscientists to go beyond reductionism. Below is a key quote.

“The mind is like music. While neuroscience accurately describes our brain in terms of its material facts — we are nothing but a loom of electricity and enzymes — this isn’t how we experience the world. Our consciousness, at least when felt from the inside, feels like more than the sum of its cells. The truth of the matter is that we feel like the ghost, not like the machine.

“If neuroscience is going to solve its grandest questions, such as the mystery of consciousness, it needs to adopt new methods that are able to construct complex representations of the mind that aren’t built from the bottom up. Sometimes, the whole is best understood in terms of the whole. William James, as usual, realized this first. The eight chapters that begin his 1890 textbook, “The Principles of Psychology,” describe the mind in the conventional third-person terms of the experimental psychologist. Everything changes, however, with Chapter 9. James starts this section, “The Stream of Thought,” with a warning: “We now begin our study of the mind from within.”
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“With that single sentence, James tried to shift the subject of psychology. He disavowed any scientific method that tried to dissect the mind into a set of elemental units, be it sensations or synapses. Modern science, however, didn’t follow James’ lead. In the years after his textbook was published, a “New Psychology” was born, and this rigorous science had no use for Jamesian vagueness. Measurement was now in vogue. Psychologists were busy trying to calculate all sorts of inane things, such as the time it takes for a single sensation to travel from your finger to your head. By quantifying our consciousness, they hoped to make the mind fit for science. Unfortunately, this meant that the mind was defined in very narrow terms. The study of experience was banished from the laboratory.”

Read more.

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Filed under: AQAL, both/and, Brain, conceptual mind, gross mind, Integral, Mind, Science, , , , , , , , , ,

The clothes have no emperor

If the emporor remains, you’ve still got a lot of explaining to do

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Filed under: Atheism, Brain, conceptual mind, Dennett, gross mind, Mind, Science, Skepticism, Video

BOTH Dennett AND Dharma?

C4Chaos has recently posted alink to a Jonathan Haidt essay MORAL PSYCHOLOGY AND THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF RELIGION.

But once again I’m frustrated by people, Haidt not Coolmel,  lumping Dennett in the with new athiests. Sure he’s riding the same road as the bandwagons of Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens and he’s put his head well above the parapet, but his philosophy of science and religion is sound and not just saber-rattling.

Thank you Integral Options Cafe for not lumping Dan Dennett in with the fundamentalist, or Loud, athiests. Haidt’s essay is a good example of where people are mis-understanding Dennett.

The Failure of the Loud Atheists blog post says the biggest flaw of the atheist fundamentalists “is their failure to distinguish between objective reality and subjective reality” and I couldn’t agree more.

But Dennett, in both ‘Breaking the Spell‘ and ‘Consciousness Explained‘ is playing a completely different game and to roll him up into the angry atheist crowd is mis-reading him almost completely.

Dennett recognises interiors and exteriors and he doesn’t ever collapse them. He recognises evolution and development. He recognises the difference between left and right-hand quadrants (although wouldn’t use those terms). And he states clearly that 3rd person methodologies have a large part to play in really understanding interiors, how they came to be, how they work, who has them, who doesn’t.

He’s got Zone1 and Zone2 of the 8 Integral Methodological Pluralism zones covered and he spotted the blind spot that phenomenology has to structuralism and 3rd person methods. His hetrophenomenological method addressed the problem back in the 1980s.

This, from his latest TED talk, says it nicely.

"Scientists, using their from-the-outside, 3rd person methods, can tell you things about your own consciousness that you'd ever dream of. And the fact that you are not the authority on your own consciousness that you thought you were.

Has anyone read anything other than ‘Breaking the Spell’? Its his most ‘populist’ to date and perhaps suffers because of that worldly connection but ‘Consciousness Explained’ lays it all our pretty clearly.

I also think Haidt is being disingenuous in saying Dennett is mis-reading the evidence. Haidt doesn’t show how the studies he cites are reliable and he fails to recognise Dennett’s main point in BTS, that giving is an outward show of ‘belief in belief’ rather than a result of belief itself.

To say “religious believers give more money than secular folk to secular charities” shows us very little about their interiors.

If giving is part of the creed and a way of proving you believe to your peers then that starts to sound like pre-conventional morality to me, rather than proving religious people are morally superior to secular folk.

This whole debate has been polarised for way too long. Can we please have BOTH Dennett AND Dharma.

Filed under: AQAL, Atheism, both/and, Brain, Dennett, Integral, Mind, Science, Understanding the Mind

The BrainVoyager

Wowsa… this looks awesome.

My ‘project’ this year is “Understanding my Mind“.

I’ve taken two guys, both considered by peers to be ‘at the top of their game’ when it comes to the mind.

Dan Dennett and Geshe Kelsang… both dealing with consciousness, but Geshe Kelsang helping shift some states and stages in the UL and Dennett rounding it off in the Right-Hand quadrants.

More to follow… but some people were starting to look here and I wanted to help clear up just what “Both/And” is all about.

Mission statement soon I promise!

Anyway… this month I’m delving into the BRAIN as well as the mind… and software and sites like this really are the bleeding edge right now.

More to come… but expect a piece on the difference between Brain and Mind, whether is really is as simple as a Hardware/Software, whether traditional dharma explanations might be falling for the age old Cartesian cock-up and whether… really we should be thinking of a Mindbrain ecosystem – rather than a split, a dualism or a material/spiritual divide.

This is “Both/And” so expect some fence sitting and a real attempt at some post-differentiated integration.

Filed under: Brain, Dennett, dharma, Mind, UL, Understanding the Mind, UR

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