a reply to: Barcs
The one thing I don't really agree with is the equivocation of the term evolution, meaning change or improvement over time, with evolution, meaning
genetic mutations sorted by natural selection. They are completely different concepts. One is a biological process and is pretty much what everybody
in this section refer to as evolution. In reality if you use the other version of the word, it can mean almost anything that changes or improves. That
is the layman's definition, not a scientific process. The scientific one is about biological evolution. The mechanisms for each one are completely
different when you look at big bang, star and planet formation, abiogenesis, and biological evolution.
While I can respect the taxonomic needs for casting 'evolution' in strictly biological terms, the fact is, when you don't break things down into
artificial (semantic) categories, you can see that the universe is essentially change and process. From the get-go, from the big bang, the universe
has been 'evolving'. That is to say, the initial conditions contained the POSSIBILITY for life, just as the conditions of life contained the
possibility for consciousness and eventually reflexive consciousness.
You can't just remove life from the background processes that it emerged within and from, such as, for example, the history of the early earth and
the early forming solar system: there is a direct, dialogical unfolding within a much larger system. Galaxy on solar system, solar system on planetary
bodies. Atmospheric conditions on life processes, and life processes on atmospheric conditions (I.e OXYGEN). It's a non-linear feedback loop, the
whole thing, and although we cannot at this moment describe the exact relations between mind, life and matter, they are all bound up in a chain of
cause and effects that goes all the way back to the big bang.
This is true, but it's the only reality we know, so learning as much as we can about it can only lead to greater understanding in the long run. If
it's not real, then no big deal, it didn't matter anyway. If it is real, this thinking could slow down our scientific progression as a society.
No, no.. Reality is real. What I mean to say is, from a psychoanalytic perspective, people do not know what is 'real' when they do not know how what
they feel and how they feel influences how they perceive things. In brain terms, its simple, and its emerging as basic backbone of modern day
developmental psychology and neuroscience. Emotions are more 'basic' than cognitions, so cognitions, as a rule, tend to ride the dynamics set in
place by emotive responses. In more basic language, meanings are a given when we have inherited specific motivation systems from our ancestors. Their
"action tendencies" are "fixed" into our biology, so that when we encounter a specific stimulus, it elicits a predictable reaction.
But human "ethology" is far more complex than animal ethology, because unlike animals, we have symbolic minds. But like animals, we have very strong
affects, and feelings. Hence the conundrum: as speakers of languages we get lost in language, so much so that we fail to see how the deep-cortical
affects and metabolic logic of the brainstem influence higher cortical functions - necessarily, governing higher cortical functions along the simple
evolutionary principle of: adapt to survive.
Psychoanalysis is essentially a human ethology. It sees into the mind because that is the terrain of human behavior. We know, for example, how people
tend to respond; what a mean face looks like and how it elicits a sort of reaction; a shrill voice or the sound of anxiety: we all respond the same.
In short, our bodies/brains have a 'mind of its own', and we merely enact, or carry out, the necessary consequences of one meaning clashing against
another, for example, the oedipal complex.
Modern day psychology is moving back to affect, and thus, back to psychoanalysis. But it is a "neuropsychonalysis" informed by systems dynamic
theory. Non-linear processes such as positive and negative feedback, attractors, etc, govern its logic, and not the weirdness of some Freudian ideas.
Ultimately, to understand the world properly, you would like to know "what you are doing" i.e. how your feelings change what you're perceiving, and
what the other person is doing. That, is probably the closest we can get to knowing the 'world objectively. And notice, that you are neither thinking
about yourself or about others, and not even about the world. Rather, you are locating the world between yourself and others. Which is to say, our
ability to reflect at all is a function of our relations with one another. Humans have such large frontal lobes as a result of intersubjective
awareness of other selves (Sarah Blaffer Hrdy). Eventually, mans lower tendencies "highjacked" these functions of mind, and thus, from a Freudian
perspective, was born the "oedipal complex", where reflection upon the mind-states of others was more a function of manipulation than empathic
attunement. This is also where evolutionary thought seems to be heading.
I'd argue that evolution can describe exactly what we are in our entirety. There are no aspects that can't be attributed to evolution, imo. The
brain has evolved as well over time. The brain is very complex, and in all likelihood can account for consciousness, self awareness, emotional
responses, morality, man made religions etc etc.
What I mean to say is, is not that the mind is "free from the brain", but rather, that the mind is "open-ended". That is, we can exercise choice,
of either yes or no. And phenomenologically speaking, no other creature in existence, really nothing in existence, is able to inhibit the automatic
process of evolution, where input always leads to output, where environmental elicits a "genetic" reactions from the organism.
When you think of the mind and in terms of the mind, the fact that I can choose at any moment, where to place my attention, shows that this
'reflective function', although dependent upon a specific neuroanatomical platform, is nevertheless conceptually open, and thus, entirely able to
review and transform its own self experience.
One problem the philosopher Evan Thompson rightly emphasizes is the "closed-mindedness" of so many scientists towards matters of the mind: and why
is this, other than a rather poor sense of "interoception" (awareness of internal affect) and the phenomenological insights that result from
deepening your sense of being.
Also, of course, what we believe, or take on faith, has enormous effects on our physiology (neurological as well as immunological)