Re: GRB and z10
Reply #6 - June 27, 2011, 06:56 PM
I think all of those are fascinating phenomena. I would also agree that this "goes to show how much of our experience is tied to what's going on in the brain."
However, i would hesitate to say that all of the mind can be explained in the purely physical terms of the brain. For instance, let us consider the colour red. The physical theory states that red is an electromagnetic wave of a certain wavelength and that the light enters the retina, at which point, an electro-chemical signal is sent from the back of the eye to the brain along a neuron cell. The brain then decodes the image and presents it for us, in our immediate consciousness, with all the vibrancy and quality of a colour.
Now, there is a famous thought experiment about this very example. Imagine a person that has always lived within a certain room. In this room, she has never seen the colour red, never had the sensation of the quality of red. However, the above physical facts about electromagnetic waves, wavelengths, neurons and brain activity are all known by her in full. She knows absolutely everything about the colour red that can be known through the cutting edge of physical knowledge. However, if we were to take her outside of the room and she was to actually see the colour red for the first ever time - do you think she gains additional knowledge?
I would contend that she dos. I would contend that there is a further fact in the actual experiencing of the colour red that cannot be known through the physical facts. i would contend that while this person knew everything about the physical facts, she could not have known the sensation of red without actually experiencing it.
Thus, one can conclude that even having complete knowledge of the physical workings of the brain is incomplete if one wants to know what an actual experience feels like.
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings. - Stevens