(E-PUB) Õ Wider Than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness ¾ eBook or E-pub free
Gerald Edelman, a Nobel prize winning neuroscientist, offers a neurological theory of consciousness, which interests me because consciousness is central to many philosophical positions and disputes Edelman is philosophically well informed, especially praising the work of William James, so that he often addresses the obvious philosophical concerns For example, he takes care to avoid category errors, such as the tendency to treat objects of consciousness as though they were things in the same sense as material objects Early in his book, Edelman makes the point that a theory of consciousness should not be expected to duplicate consciousness e.g to generate my unique experience of red , but only to explain it Just as a meteorologist can explain a hurricane, but cannot produce one, a brain based theory of consciousness should give a causal explanation of its properties but, having done so, it should not be expected to generate qualia by description Unfortunately, much of the groundwork for the theory involves a detailed description of brain processes, much of which is lost on me because he names and identifies many parts of the brain, most of which are difficult for me to keep distinct in my own mind He then describes brain processes in terms of neural impulses which travel from this part of the brain to that, so that I have a picture of a lot of traffic, but not much clarity I do get a grasp of some of the general principles.Edelman makes a strong point that the brain does not function like a computer Instead of algorithms and Turing Machine type operations, the brain functions using neural networks, and exhibits degeneracy, a technical term meaning massive redundancy, or that the same result can be reached by many different paths I am somewhat surprised by this, since I have read Paul Churchland, a neurophilosopher, who describes parallel distributed processing, a theoretical description of neural networks which can be implemented on a computer I think this may be a terminological dispute, since artificial intelligence is based on parallel distributed processing, which learns by trial and error, based on massive feedback loops This resembles brain processing as Edelman describes it.Edelman says that consciousness is an epiphenomenon, based on the continual cycling of neural impulses in the brain Neural input may come from sense organs such as the optic nerves and is then cycled through a part of the cerebral cortex which categorizes it in terms of conceptual experience, and then is recycled so as to refine and to clarify the original impression Along the way, the neural impulses may go through value systems areas of the brain, not ethics which prioritize neural impulses in various ways, such as to promote survival, or to focus, or to accomplish some other purpose This recycling of neural impulses, called reentrant and related to a feedback loop, resembles churning, such as water in a washing machine, or in ocean tides, and serves to generate a constantly changing model of the sensory world, as well as of one s own body and needs The image generated by the constant cycling of neural impulses, is consciousness Or to put it another way, consciousness is the way the world including our own bodies seems to us, after the brain has done its categorizing, prioritizing, updating, emotional coloration, and other refinements.So, according to Edelman, consciousness is generated by neural processes, but unlike neural processing, cannot cause anything to happen Only neural processes have causal efficacy Edelman quotes beautiful metaphors from William James to illustrate, So the melody floats from the harp string, but neither checks nor quickens its vibration so the shadow runs alongside the pedestrian, but in no way influences his steps I m impressed by Edelman s argument, but I have a problem with the idea that consciousness itself, as distinct from neural processes, cannot cause anything to happen Just for starters, if I call up the movie theater, and find out the time of the next screening, my conscious knowledge of that time is part of the causal chain that leads me to go to the theater I suppose the counterargument is that my neural processes are handling all of that, and my consciousness is only keeping me updated.But I think this limits the term consciousness to only the most superficial aspects of my awareness If I know in the usual sense of the word that force equals mass times acceleration, it is not just words that I know I know the meanings of the terms, and how to apply those terms in specific situations Even though I may not articulate all of that, I know that I know, and that is part of my consciousness of knowing the equation from physics To say that my knowledge of how to apply the equation is handled by neural processes, while I am only conscious of words, is to take the term consciousness in too restricted a sense My consciousness includes awareness of meanings and powers that I don t necessarily recite to myself.Be all of that as it may, I am impressed enough by Edelman s theory to pursue the issue by further reading While I have no doubt that Edelman is a great neuroscientist, I have seen science writing done better by other people Paul Churchland, in The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul, to my mind does a farimpressive job of describing parallel distributed processing neural networks , though he approaches it from a theoretical viewpoint, rather than from the viewpoint of empirical research Either way, it is a fascinating topic. Nec t m se pln opr vn n toto hodnotit hv zdi kami Jsem toti jen hloup aspiruj c pseudov dec a nikoli filosofuj c neurov dec pono en do neur ln ch substr t v dom.Za nalo to v n slibn Jak se ale objevily graf ky, tabulky a mozky s ipe kami, odborn v razy za aly houstnout na t m nesrozumitelnou frekvenci a nepomohl ani slovn ek na konci Z textu si toho mnoho nepamatuji, a jestli mi n co dal, tak p edev m ment ln rozcvi ku p ed za tkem semestru a z minku k machrov n p ed kamar dy.L b se mi, e se autor sna vysv tlit n co tak subjektivn ho a net lesn ho jako v dom na biologick ch principech, a uk zat, e se jedn o fale nou dichotomii M m z toho ale podobn pocit, jako kdy jsem se pokou ela pochopit teorii relativity nebo statistiku Doch zej mi d sledky a projevy, ale po d m m pocit, e mi to n kde uprost ed ned v smysl e je to natolik abstraktn abstraktno, e to sv m mozkem prost nepoberu.A mo n taky m pravdu n kdo, jeho koment ke knize jsem zahl dla e autor zkou vysv tlit v decky filosofick probl m, kter vlastn v bec nepochopil.Beru to jako v zvu O v dom chci m t lep pov dom. This book is written by one of the most prominent scientists of this field, therefore, making it an authentic and credible depiction of the topic Consciousness.However, This was my first read book about consciousness, and I had a hard time finishing this book not because it wasn t a great book but I had barely any knowledge as prerequisites other than the quest to understand consciousness and wondering Moreover, I was in a rush to return the book to the borrower.The only thing I remember from this book is the exquisite poem by Emily Dickinson in its preface The Brain is wider than the Sky The Brain is wider than the Sky For put them side by side The one the other will containWith ease and You beside The Brain is deeper than the sea For hold them Blue to Blue The one the other will absorb As Sponges Buckets do The Brain is just the weight of God For Heft them Pound for Pound And they will differ if they do As Syllable from Sound And, after reading the poem you can get a sense how well suited this poem is for the book.So, I really loved this book and wish to re read it, even though I haven t understood anything in my first read.So, I recommend this book to anyone wondering about these issues as I do. So, I did a single module of neuropsychology in college and have read a few books about the brain since, to give you an idea of my background.To me, about half of it was comprehensible He starts off admirably explaining the theory of brain that he is basing this explanation of consciousness on This part is difficult, but I was just about able to understand it, and it was frankly, fascinating, I had never read an overall theory of the brain before and it was great.As the book progresses though, he loses all pretence of writing the book for a general or non expert audience After the theory of brain, he goes into the basic theory of consciousness he is expounding, this part is faintly understandable, though much of it was lost on me He then goes into specific topics like explaining qualia the sense of feeling something and intentionality the intention to do something and these parts were way past me and I believe 80 90% of people out there, which makes you wonder, as I have done so often with these types of books, why he bothered explaining things at the start if the book wasn t written for a general audience It wasn t an issue of talking about specific brain regions that an expert wouldn t know, it was his use of language, something that was entirely avoidable if he just wrote it better or had a better editor.The last two chapters become very readable again and are a quite interesting summary of the book, but leave out a lot of detail I can only presume was gone into indetail in previous chapters He also leaves out things like experimental backing for the theory, which he says is done in different books, listed in the bibliography, which is also very well laid out The glossary is poorly explained as well as it always being cumbersome to have to go to the end of the book to read the out of context explanation of a term that could ve been just explained in text.As it was, what I did understand was fascinating but there was far too little of those bits. . . (E-PUB) à Wider Than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness ì How Does The Firing Of Neurons Give Rise To Subjective Sensations, Thoughts, And Emotions How Can The Disparate Domains Of Mind And Body Be Reconciled The Quest For A Scientifically Based Understanding Of Consciousness Has Attracted Study And Speculation Across The Ages In This Direct And Non Technical Discussion Of Consciousness, Dr Gerald M Edelman Draws On A Lifetime Of Scientific Inquiry Into The Workings Of The Brain To Formulate Answers To The Mind Body Questions That Intrigue Every Thinking PersonConcise And Understandable, The Book Explains Pertinent Findings Of Modern Neuroscience And Describes How Consciousness Arises In Complex Brains Edelman Explores The Relation Of Consciousness To Causation, To Evolution, To The Development Of The Self, And To The Origins Of Feelings, Learning, And Memory His Analysis Of The Brain Activities Underlying Consciousness Is Based On Recent Remarkable Advances In Biochemistry, Immunology, Medical Imaging, Neuroscience, And Evolutionary Biology, Yet The Implications Of His Book Extend Farther Beyond The Worlds Of Science And Medicine Into Virtually Every Area Of Human Inquiry For me this book rates up there with other classics in science like Chance and Necessity by Jacque Monod.