Brain Injuries and Materialism

#1
Hi all,

I have lurked on this site for probably over 3 years now. I really enjoy reading the forums and have a great amount of respect for nearly all of the posters on this site and I also enjoy a lot of Alex's shows. I had a specific question to ask and so I decided to make an account.

I'm really looking for people's opinions and ideas with regards to how brain injuries can alter our behavior, motivations, memory, and general cognition, and how that relates to materialism as a theory, as well as the resources/links/articles/blogs etc that you have used to form those opinions.

I am obviously very familiar with the filter theory, dualism, idealism, materialism and its offshoots, etc, so I'm just kind of trying to get a better understanding of how proponents and "skeptics" kind of view this issue and the foundation upon which they build their views. Personally, I think materialism has a number of theoretical/philosophical issues as a theory, and I believe there are a number of pieces of sound evidence against it, including PSI (though I'm not as familiar with it as I could be); NDEs, to an extent; and especially the studies done by Jim Tucker and Ian Stevenson, which I actually think are perhaps the most methodologically sound and robust studies giving actual evidence against materialism.

Regardless, my focus in this thread is, again, to see what you all think of this issue. It seems to me to be one of the strongest evidence based arguments in favor of materialism, so I am interested to see the sources you all draw from and the way you think about this to kind of base an opinion on it, whether you think it is a truly a strong argument for materialism or if it is an argument that has weaknesses.

I'm looking forward to hearing what you all have to say and continuing to read. Thanks for having me!

Dante
 
#2
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/skeptical_fallacies#skeptical_fallacies_brain

Everyone knows that consciousness is influenced by the brain. For example, a brain injury can cause amnesia. However, this correlation between neurological states and mental states does not prove the brain produces consciousness (the production model of the brain). The same correlation would occur if the brain is a filter of non-physical consciousness (the filter model of the brain). In the filter model, the brain is said to filter some aspects of consciousness the way a colored glass can filter out some wavelengths of light. What passes through the brain filter is a restricted set of conscious faculties that we have while in the physical body. The production and filter models can both explain how brain injuries might cause loss of function like amnesia. However, the filter model can also explain how brain injuries can result in new mental capabilities that the production model cannot explain. This is because a filter can break in two ways: it can be clogged, or it can be punctured. According to the filter model of consciousness, when brain damage causes loss of function like amnesia, that is like a clog in the filter. When brain damage produces new mental capabilities, such as ESP or in Acquired Savant Syndrome (see below) that is like a hole in the filter. Furthermore, if you release the conscious mind from the brain as happens during a near death experience you should have expanded, unfiltered, consciousness. This is exactly what happens during a near death experience (see below). The production model cannot explain how injuries to the brain could produce new functions like ESP or Acquired Savant Syndrome, or how expanded consciousness could occur during a near death experience, therefore the filter model is a better explanation of how the brain functions.​
 
#3
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/skeptical_fallacies#skeptical_fallacies_brain

Everyone knows that consciousness is influenced by the brain. For example, a brain injury can cause amnesia. However, this correlation between neurological states and mental states does not prove the brain produces consciousness (the production model of the brain). The same correlation would occur if the brain is a filter of non-physical consciousness (the filter model of the brain). In the filter model, the brain is said to filter some aspects of consciousness the way a colored glass can filter out some wavelengths of light. What passes through the brain filter is a restricted set of conscious faculties that we have while in the physical body. The production and filter models can both explain how brain injuries might cause loss of function like amnesia. However, the filter model can also explain how brain injuries can result in new mental capabilities that the production model cannot explain. This is because a filter can break in two ways: it can be clogged, or it can be punctured. According to the filter model of consciousness, when brain damage causes loss of function like amnesia, that is like a clog in the filter. When brain damage produces new mental capabilities, such as ESP or in Acquired Savant Syndrome (see below) that is like a hole in the filter. Furthermore, if you release the conscious mind from the brain as happens during a near death experience you should have expanded, unfiltered, consciousness. This is exactly what happens during a near death experience (see below). The production model cannot explain how injuries to the brain could produce new functions like ESP or Acquired Savant Syndrome, or how expanded consciousness could occur during a near death experience, therefore the filter model is a better explanation of how the brain functions.​
What is your general response to those who say the filter theory is a weak kind of theory? It seems to me that a lot of people, even those against materialism or reductionism, have an aversion to Cartesian Dualism and things akin to that, including people who I've seen talk about it on this forum.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#4
Perhaps we might hear some of the weaknesses of the theory?

I think it's important to distinguish the falsity of materialism from the hypothesis that mind is not equal to brain. It's entirely possible, for example, for mind=brain to be true *and* for materialism to be false - Ontic Structual Realism, Panpsychism, and variations of Neutral Monism might arguably be specific ontologies falling under that rubric.

It's also possible that mind is not equal to brain but materialism remains true, say by some variation on the idea that consciousness is produced by certain information in specific fields.
 
#5
Perhaps we might hear some of the weaknesses of the theory?

I think it's important to distinguish the falsity of materialism from the hypothesis that mind is not equal to brain. It's entirely possible, for example, for mind=brain to be true *and* for materialism to be false - Ontic Structual Realism, Panpsychism, and variations of Neutral Monism might arguably be specific ontologies falling under that rubric.

It's also possible that mind is not equal to brain but materialism remains true, say by some variation on the idea that consciousness is produced by certain information in specific fields.
I'll have to do some searching around for those weaknesses. I don't have them off the top of my head mostly because I have, at points, felt that the filter theory is entirely reasonable. I just know that I've seen some pushback against that idea and dualism in general so I'll try to find some of that stuff to post.

I'm not familiar with Ontic Structural Realism. Pansychism I am, and I think it's an interesting theory. I still haven't figured out quite why some people like Christof Koch, who is a materialist IIRC, embrace pansychism so much since to me it is still imbuing atoms etc with a sort of necessary consciousness that is imminent in and throughout the universe. You make a good point about how mind=brain could still be true in that scenario.

When you say that materialism might be true but mind=brain false, and mention consciousness being produced by certain information in specific fields, are you referring to something like what Max believes? Or something like what Hameroff and Penrose have proposed?

Just to kind of relate it to the original post, what are your personal thoughts on the brain injury stuff if you're willing to elaborate?
 
#6
Hi Dante

As you probably know from having read my posts here on the forum, I had a stroke in 2011 which I now think was a huge 'wake up call'. I've written about it in my ebook Choices:One Man's Spiritual Journey. (Searching just 'Choices' in amazon isn't enough, you have to put subtitle too)

Although I was far from a materialist before, I now am firmly in the proponent camp, although I don't think I'm too bothered about the skeptic camp as others here seem to be. I can't tell you what I read/watched to help provide the evidence to point me in the direction I've taken. It was a lot of material, basically every minute of every day that I wasn't doing exercise or meditating, for nearly four years I watched videos and read books or articles about all sorts of topics that are meat and gravy on this forum.

Bottom line? I recognise that I know even less than that! I'm about to write something about intuition that I'll put up, as it's worth noting imo.

All the Best.
Steve
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#7
When you say that materialism might be true but mind=brain false, and mention consciousness being produced by certain information in specific fields, are you referring to something like what Max believes? Or something like what Hameroff and Penrose have proposed?

Just to kind of relate it to the original post, what are your personal thoughts on the brain injury stuff if you're willing to elaborate?
Well Max has his own thoughts on metaphysics that I don't think fits neatly into an "ism", so I don't want to put words in his mouth. But Jonjoe McFadden has talked about "information" being indestructible and within the context of his own field-theory of consciousness has offered the possibility that consciousness could survive bodily death.

Now if Information is meant to be beyond matter in some sense that it's not a materialist theory, but it seems to me depending on who you ask it might be an expression/arrangement of matter but not a universal fundamental.

There are also subtle-matter theories, which might be materialist....hard to say though as one might argue they're really panpsychic.More on "transcendental materialism" here:


For myself I'd say materialism is false but after that the question of mind=brain is still up for grabs...intuitively however I don't think the weaknesses of the mortal body are felt by the soul after death. There are some other reasons that range from philosophy to anecdotes from people I think were genuine that lead to the conclusion.
 
#8
There are some other reasons that range from philosophy to anecdotes from people I think were genuine that lead to the conclusion.
That's an interesting thing to say Sci.

Of the thousands(millions?) of anecdotes, which ones were a) People that were Genuine b) Belonging to which type?

What makes one more genuine than another, do you have any idea?
 
#9
It's perfectly possible for consciousness to be fundamental and for the soul to be a product of brain activity or shaped by brain structure in some way. Consciousness is in this sense, a blank slate, and the brain is a means by which this slate acquires a defined form, in much the same way clay is blank yet shape it into a pot and it becomes something.
 
#10
Hi all,

I have lurked on this site for probably over 3 years now. I really enjoy reading the forums and have a great amount of respect for nearly all of the posters on this site and I also enjoy a lot of Alex's shows. I had a specific question to ask and so I decided to make an account.

I'm really looking for people's opinions and ideas with regards to how brain injuries can alter our behavior, motivations, memory, and general cognition, and how that relates to materialism as a theory, as well as the resources/links/articles/blogs etc that you have used to form those opinions.

I am obviously very familiar with the filter theory, dualism, idealism, materialism and its offshoots, etc, so I'm just kind of trying to get a better understanding of how proponents and "skeptics" kind of view this issue and the foundation upon which they build their views. Personally, I think materialism has a number of theoretical/philosophical issues as a theory, and I believe there are a number of pieces of sound evidence against it, including PSI (though I'm not as familiar with it as I could be); NDEs, to an extent; and especially the studies done by Jim Tucker and Ian Stevenson, which I actually think are perhaps the most methodologically sound and robust studies giving actual evidence against materialism.

Regardless, my focus in this thread is, again, to see what you all think of this issue. It seems to me to be one of the strongest evidence based arguments in favor of materialism, so I am interested to see the sources you all draw from and the way you think about this to kind of base an opinion on it, whether you think it is a truly a strong argument for materialism or if it is an argument that has weaknesses.

I'm looking forward to hearing what you all have to say and continuing to read. Thanks for having me!

Dante
Personally, I've found it very difficult to discuss these issues with other people, until they have done a better job of nailing down their ideas about perception... really about whether they feel perception is generally direct, or indirect.

When people don't get this area of their beliefs challenged, and more worked out, I find discussions with them tend to flip flop around on shifting sand.

There are plenty of resources on the net to do with the arguments on each side. But I promise, one has to at least initially let go of the naive view of perception we all grow up with. To enable one to move on, and have a freer view about reality that you can build upon.

How far people are willing to go varies, it's not easy, and it takes time to let go of how one has been taught to see the world.

Dunno if that applies to everyone, but it's certainly what I've found when discussing these deep issues.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#11
That's an interesting thing to say Sci.

Of the thousands(millions?) of anecdotes, which ones were a) People that were Genuine b) Belonging to which type?

What makes one more genuine than another, do you have any idea?
Ah I'm speaking primarily of anecdotes related to me personally. I should also add my own experiences to that, though I don't believe I've had conclusively paranormal experiences.

Sadly having moved away from the medium I wanted to visit before I got the chance I have to find another one that I'll accept is reliable enough to chance the $$$ involved.
 
#12
I'll have to do some searching around for those weaknesses. I don't have them off the top of my head mostly because I have, at points, felt that the filter theory is entirely reasonable. I just know that I've seen some pushback against that idea and dualism in general so I'll try to find some of that stuff to post.

I'm not familiar with Ontic Structural Realism. Pansychism I am, and I think it's an interesting theory. I still haven't figured out quite why some people like Christof Koch, who is a materialist IIRC, embrace pansychism so much since to me it is still imbuing atoms etc with a sort of necessary consciousness that is imminent in and throughout the universe. You make a good point about how mind=brain could still be true in that scenario.

When you say that materialism might be true but mind=brain false, and mention consciousness being produced by certain information in specific fields, are you referring to something like what Max believes? Or something like what Hameroff and Penrose have proposed?

Just to kind of relate it to the original post, what are your personal thoughts on the brain injury stuff if you're willing to elaborate?
Ontic (or Epistemic) Structural Realism sound like fancy developments. They are pretty easy to see as updates to the idea of scientific realism - that our best knowledge has truth. It is also a throwback to Pythagoras, and belief that math is central to how the world can be known.

Structural realism was introduced into contemporary philosophy of science by John Worrall in 1989 as a way to break the impasse that results from taking both arguments seriously, and have “the best of both worlds” in the debate about scientific realism. With respect to the case of the transition in nineteenth-century optics from Fresnel's elastic solid ether theory to Maxwell's theory of the electromagnetic field, Worrall argues that:

"There was an important element of continuity in the shift from Fresnel to Maxwell—and this was much more than a simple question of carrying over the successful empirical content into the new theory. At the same time it was rather less than a carrying over of the full theoretical content or full theoretical mechanisms (even in “approximate” form) … There was continuity or accumulation in the shift, but the continuity is one of form or structure, not of content. (1989, 117)
According to Worrall, we should not accept standard scientific realism, which asserts that the nature of the unobservable objects that cause the phenomena we observe is correctly described by our best theories. However, neither should we be antirealists about science. Rather, we should adopt structural realism and epistemically commit ourselves only to the mathematical or structural content of our theories. Since there is (says Worrall) retention of structure across theory change, structural realism both (a) avoids the force of the pessimistic meta-induction (by not committing us to belief in the theory's description of the furniture of the world) and (b) does not make the success of science (especially the novel predictions of mature physical theories) seem miraculous (by committing us to the claim that the theory's structure, over and above its empirical content, describes the world)."
Structural Realism came from Physics considerations, but has been evolved to include informational structures, such as logical relations and communication.
 
#13
Dante,

Welcome to the forum!

Regardless, my focus in this thread is, again, to see what you all think of this issue. It seems to me to be one of the strongest evidence based arguments in favor of materialism
I suspect you meant the opposite!

NDE's, autistic savants, new talents discovered after brain damage - they are all ridiculously hard to explain materialistly because in every case you have to explain how damage to the brain can enhance the operation of the mind in any respect!

David
 
#14
Ontic (or Epistemic) Structural Realism sound like fancy developments. They are pretty easy to see as updates to the idea of scientific realism - that our best knowledge has truth. It is also a throwback to Pythagoras, and belief that math is central to how the world can be known.



Structural Realism came from Physics considerations, but has been evolved to include informational structures, such as logical relations and communication.
Thank you corn clarifying that for me. To be honest that's a lot to take in, so I'll have to read it more closely and do some research into it myself. Is that a theory you yourself endorse Stephen? Again if you're willing to share.
 
#15
Dante,

Welcome to the forum!


I suspect you meant the opposite!

NDE's, autistic savants, new talents discovered after brain damage - they are all ridiculously hard to explain materialistly because in every case you have to explain how damage to the brain can enhance the operation of the mind in any respect!

David
I did actually mean what I said, or at least to say that a number of materialists use it as one of their favorite arguments. I do sort of see the strengths of it, though I think someone advocating it has to kind of ignore or hand wave away some of the phenomena that you mentioned.
 
#16
Dante,

Welcome to the forum!


I suspect you meant the opposite!

NDE's, autistic savants, new talents discovered after brain damage - they are all ridiculously hard to explain materialistly because in every case you have to explain how damage to the brain can enhance the operation of the mind in any respect!

David
Most cases of brain damage are not positive. But are you saying you can't imagine that in some cases damage to some pathways may result in new pathways being created that might supplement prexisting ones?

Consider even the studies that show that drugs like LSD rearrange the connections, decreasing connectivity in some regions but increasing it in others. With a brain injury I think you should be open to considering that rearrangements can occur from time to time that produce addition abilities not previously capable. And again, this doesn't happen often.
 
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#17
Hi all,

I have lurked on this site for probably over 3 years now. I really enjoy reading the forums and have a great amount of respect for nearly all of the posters on this site and I also enjoy a lot of Alex's shows. I had a specific question to ask and so I decided to make an account.

I'm really looking for people's opinions and ideas with regards to how brain injuries can alter our behavior, motivations, memory, and general cognition, and how that relates to materialism as a theory, as well as the resources/links/articles/blogs etc that you have used to form those opinions.

I am obviously very familiar with the filter theory, dualism, idealism, materialism and its offshoots, etc, so I'm just kind of trying to get a better understanding of how proponents and "skeptics" kind of view this issue and the foundation upon which they build their views. Personally, I think materialism has a number of theoretical/philosophical issues as a theory, and I believe there are a number of pieces of sound evidence against it, including PSI (though I'm not as familiar with it as I could be); NDEs, to an extent; and especially the studies done by Jim Tucker and Ian Stevenson, which I actually think are perhaps the most methodologically sound and robust studies giving actual evidence against materialism.

Regardless, my focus in this thread is, again, to see what you all think of this issue. It seems to me to be one of the strongest evidence based arguments in favor of materialism, so I am interested to see the sources you all draw from and the way you think about this to kind of base an opinion on it, whether you think it is a truly a strong argument for materialism or if it is an argument that has weaknesses.

I'm looking forward to hearing what you all have to say and continuing to read. Thanks for having me!

Dante
Can you flesh out the text I've bolded?
 
#18
Thank you corn clarifying that for me. To be honest that's a lot to take in, so I'll have to read it more closely and do some research into it myself. Is that a theory you yourself endorse Stephen? Again if you're willing to share.
I follow Oxford Scholar Luciano Floridi and in particular the general scope of his offering of Informational Structural Realism.

http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/2538/

The outcome is informational realism, the view that the world is the totality of informational objects dynamically interacting with each other. - Floridi
There is a version of ISR by T. Bynum that parses Floridi's ideas very well and extends them to quantum considerations. https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1303/1303.6007.pdf
 
#19
With a brain injury I think you should be open to considering that rearrangements can occur from time to time that produce addition abilities not previously capable.
Yeah we should consider it. We should likewise be open to considering that the individual developed those abilities in a past-life, and the injury triggered spontaneous recall. This would be inline with other reincarnation evidence, such as (rare) cases of xenoglossy, or when certain events suddenly trigger past-life recall.

Cheers,
Bill
 
#20
Yeah we should consider it. We should likewise be open to considering that the individual developed those abilities in a past-life, and the injury triggered spontaneous recall. This would be inline with other reincarnation evidence, such as (rare) cases of xenoglossy, or when certain events suddenly trigger past-life recall.

Cheers,
Bill
Of course we should consider that possibility!
 
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