Monday, July 25, 2016

Soul and Consciousness, Tool and Brain

In Spitzer's The Soul's Upward Yearning: Clues to Our Transcendent Nature from Experience and Reason, there is a chapter on The Soul and Its Brain, which I've been meaning to discuss. Not much time this morning, but at least we can lay a foundation or something.

First of all, no one knows what the relationship is between soul and brain. It is a Total Mystery that is not susceptible to any merely rational explanation, the reason being that your reason will still have to explain the Reasoner.

Besides, who said you could rely upon reason to arrive at the answer? That's a very unGödelian sassumption that can never be proven, plus, reason can only operate on premises supplied from outside the chain of reasoning. Thus, reason is founded upon non-reason (or trans-reason, if our Raccoon fathers are correct).

You might say that not a soul knows the answer. Then again, you might say that not a brain knows, which illustrates the dilemma. Spitzer tips his hand in the title, implying that the soul contains the brain, rather then vice versa. Any properly indoctrinated, post-sensible biped knows that the flow of causation is the other way around -- that the brain contains the soul, which, by the way, doesn't exist.

Hey, that's what I learned in graduate school. And also the opposite of what I learned. That is, I had to take the usual physicalist courses in neuroanatomy, psychobiology, neurobiological development, etc. But none of that exterior paraphernalia had much practical application. Rather, the real action was in the software, the programming, the Great Interior. They didn't call it the soul, despite the fact that psych-ology is its study.

I remember a helpful book by a Buddhist fellow named B. Alan Wallace, called The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science of Consciousness. Sounds chopraesque, but it isn't, at least as far as I can recall. He states in the Introduction that "Strictly speaking, at present there is no scientific evidence even for the existence of consciousness!" Rather, "All the direct evidence we have consists of nonscientific, first-person accounts of being conscious."

And the "first-person" perspective can never be scientific. Rather, science is always from a third-person, I-it, perspective. And even then, how did this mysterious "I" sneak into the equation? Ideally, science would be an it-it relation, i.e., purely quantitative. The I, to the extent that it exists, would simply serve as a link between quantities, like an equal sign.

But we all know how subjectivity "infects" science, most notoriously with regard to "climate science," but also gender, IQ, and other sensitive subjects. In other words, there are subjects -- souls -- so sensitive that they cannot bear the truth of certain subjects.

Last night, because of the DNC hacking brouhaha, I checked into the Crazy Liberal station to see how they were coping. Instead, it was Chris Matthews interblowing Bill Maher. Republican denial of AGW came up, and they chuckled over how the absence of snow on Kilimanjaro is all the proof we need that GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL AND WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!! I hadn't heard that one, but a quick search revealed that this was one of the feary tales peddled in Al Gore's Oscar-winning science fiction thriller, and that it has no basis in fact.

I see that Wallace begins his introduction with a quote by the always pithy A.N. Whitehead, to the effect that When we consider what religion is for mankind, and what science is, it is no exaggeration to say that the future course of history depends upon the decision of this generation as to the relations between them.

Which I would modify to say every generation, since each generation must face anew the primordial and irreducible conundrum of a world and a world-sensorium -- AKA subjects and objects, interior and exterior, perception and perceived -- and the relations between them.

So don't pretend to know the answer! Without first consulting a Senior Raccoon. For "Modern science does not know any better than Augustine how or why consciousness originates, nor does it have any way of directly detecting the presence or absence of consciousness in a human fetus or even a human adult" (ibid.). Wallace quotes from The Dictionary of Psychology that "it is impossible to specify what [consciousness] does, or why it evolved. Nothing worth reading has been written about it."

Until today.

One thing you will have noticed is that there is a political bifurcation that mirrors the complementarity of Inside and Outside. That is, the left is the party of the Exterior, while conservatives are the party of the Interior. For the left, all problems are located outside the individual. We call those individuals victims, and without these passive amoeboids the left would have no political traction whatsoever.

Because the left is running out of victims, they have invented the term "microaggression" to create more of them. Black Lives Matter -- and the Professional Negro Industry in general -- is in the victim business, as are the open border enthusiasts. In other words, they have no enthusiasm for importing high IQ people from first world countries who won't serve as liberal victim fodder.

Look at their first instinct in the DNC scandal: "We are victims of Putin's hackers!" The left specializes in transforming bullies into victims, which is why the mother of notorious bully Michael Brown will be speaking at their convention. Their whole war on cops is rooted in this inversion. It's why they want to outlaw bullying, for if we legislate against bullying, only legislators will bully.

Just as it takes a Constitutional Scholar like Obama to lose more Supreme Court cases than any previous president, it takes a true genius such as Stephen Hawking to come up with the following: "it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion." Nothing demonstrates more the limitations of genius than when they step outside their narrow speciality. As if the soul can be contained by matter!

This ramble will continue tomorrow, when I will have more time to penetrate beneath the surface and hurl some real insults.


Blogger julie said...


Ha - we needed that word at least eight years ago.

7/25/2016 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Look at their first instinct in the DNC scandal: "We are victims of Putin's hackers!"

Never does it cross their minds to think, "we are horrible, horrible people. Look at what we have done!" No, they only demand to have their masks put back in place, that the people might forget - or continue not to notice - what horrors lurk beneath.

This brings home again the idea that it is good to pray for our enemies. Truly - I do pray that all of them would be blessed. Really blessed, not in the way that most people think where one is simply given what one wants or seemingly needs, but rather with eyes, ears and hearts open to God. Seeing Hillary's seizure, she seemed pitiful, even though she is loathsome. Running for office could be the worst thing she could be doing for her health.

7/25/2016 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

"First of all, no one knows what the relationship is between soul and brain."

Perhaps there is a trinity of persons in the human person that is in the image of The Trinity of Persons. Such that, say, the human soul is to God, as the human mind is to Christ, as to the human body is to the Holy Spirit.

I always have a difficult time conceptualizing the Holy Spirit as a person. Which makes me question my conception of the other Two Persons. Probably a good thing. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is like the mystery of "the relationship which no one knows...between the soul and brain."

The Christian Orthodox seems to value the body in heaven more than I'm used to. Such that we won't be some disembodied spirit up there but rejoined with our bodies. As Christ was, and I believe, as Mary was. I mean, is.

Incidentally, do any religions make a distinction between the "I" of a person and the soul? I think I read that that is the case in the Hindu religion.

7/25/2016 01:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mahayana Buddhism makes a distinction between the ego-self, which is ephemeral, and the true self which is the indwelling aspect of the Absolute - a reality that is not, in any way, impersonal but rather 'supra-personal'.

7/25/2016 02:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This 'true self' is also commonly referred to as Buddha-nature which is the real basis of all personality.

7/25/2016 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Lots of good stuff to think about.

7/25/2016 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Thanks, Anon (you sound like Bob)

Who is the Anoner that anons the anon?

7/26/2016 04:13:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"But we all know how subjectivity "infects" science, most notoriously with regard to "climate science," but also gender, IQ, and other sensitive subjects. In other words, there are subjects -- souls -- so sensitive that they cannot bear the truth of certain subjects."

Especially those subjects which reveal what is undeniably true, resulting in Trinity-degree burns.

7/26/2016 05:01:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

"Especially those subjects which reveal what is undeniably true, resulting in Trinity-degree burns."

Ha! (where is the "Like" button on this here thang?)

7/26/2016 07:39:00 AM  

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