The problem is, if we assume that “the mind is nothing more than the brain,” there may be nothing we can discover about how it works. Gleiser wishes we could prove that that’s wrong but he can’t.
Apart from simple laws governing neurons, we have no clue what laws the mind follows, though it does show complex nonlinear dynamics.
In his chapter of a new anthology, The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith: Exploring the Ultimate Questions About Life and the Cosmos (2021), neurosurgeon Michael Egnor looks at the growing evidence that the mind is not simply what the brain does and defends a dualist view.
Neuropsychologist Mark Solms and neurosurgeon Michael Egnor agreed that clinical experience supports a non-materialist view of the mind but that the establishment doesn’t.
Essentially, panpsychism offers a way for scientists to address human consciousness, as currently understood, without explaining it away as an illusion. It would allow us to say that if Zombie-Jane existed, she would be missing something critical that Jane has (and so does everything else, to some extent). Whether that makes panpsychism a better explanation of reality than idealism or dualism is a separate question. Like all points of view, they have their own issues but the Zombie isn’t one of them.
Egnor saw patients who didn’t have most of their frontal lobes who were completely conscious, “in fact, rather pleasant, bright people.”
Neuropsychologist Mark Solms: a lot of evidence, suggests that the source of consciousness in the brain is in fact in the brain stem, which is a much more ancient, much more primitive structure that we share, not only with all other primates and all other mammals, but in fact, with all vertebrates.
The problem with getting AI to understand causation, as opposed to mere correlation, has led to many spurious correlations in data driven papers.
In the real world, if we succeed in communicating with whales, it will be much like communicating successfully with dogs, cats, and horses. None of them are furry people. Whales are not blubbery people either. They won’t bring us closer to understanding what sets humans apart than dogs will.
One-celled intelligence aside, it’s unclear how Antonio Damasio’s ladder of consciousness, built on self-balancing and death avoidance, gets us the human mind.
Researchers attempting to map the brain must contend with massive complexity at every level, as a report in Nature shows. The proposed whole brain map will shed light on many of these situations. If it doesn’t shed light on some of them, we are probably looking at a new frontier.
At GenEng and BioTech mag: “In a new study, stem cell scientists at the Lund University, Sweden, explore the role of non-coding regions of the genome—previously deemed to be functionless “junk” DNA—and find humans and chimpanzees use a part of their non-coding DNA in different ways. This they claim affects how and when the human brain develops.”
If information flow in the brain is “largely unconstrained” by anatomical wiring, it’s easy to understand why we sense that we have “minds” apart from our brains.
In response to Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb denying free will and all that, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor points out, “Logic and reason aren’t laws of physics and therefore they transcend physical properties.”