Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Mind/Brain Research: A Dialogue

Originally posted on February 1, 2011

A few days ago my friend John asked me to think about and respond to a few questions he had, and it occurred to me to also post it here: 
1. J: What is new concerning mind/brain research?
    AB: tons, but much is still preliminary, and has little relevance to anyone. What relevance it does have is for neurologists; then psychiatrists; and not much in the way of what ordinary people can use. They’re able to see patterns in the mind the way a plane flying over Las Vegas can notice— "Hey, there’s a lot of light. Hm, there must be a lot going on down there. I can’t say what, but there’s a lot of light." It’s that crude. There’s more going on in Las Vegas than flying over the Grand Canyon. But what? Still, technologies do become more refined in time.

2. J: What is the controversy about consciousness?
AB: I doubt that the real question is even being widely asked: What if the brain is more of an antenna that can pick up, filter, distribute and then interpret what it picks up, in contrast to being the sole manufacturer of consciousness? That would require the metaphysical shift to wondering "where" consciousness comes from—as if it can be located in the space-time continuum. That there might even be anything operating beyond the space-time continuum, or at least our own, is being seriously considered by physicists; but that it might partake of a mind-like quality is beyond their imaginations, with a few exceptions.

3. J: Why is the mind-body problem a philosophical issue?
AB: Because while body is granted existence, mind and its power is marginal. It certainly operates, influences the body, but its potential to influence the body in ways that go beyond present knowledge is dismissed out of hand, in the face of the fact that hypnotized people do it all the time.

4. J: What are some interesting evolutionary considerations?
  AB: What if we could learn to access and use powers of mind not presently acknowledged to exist, not acknowledged because mainstream science hasn’t figured out how to define, manifest, or control these. Our ignorance leads to a reactive pride that assumes that, in the face of the history of science, what we don’t know about now can’t possibly exist.

5. J:As Shakespeare asked: What seest (or thinkest) thou else?
AB: I think-est a lot, as you can gather from this blog, but my responses are provisional, hardly definitive. I hold with Whitehead that all truths are half-truths, meaning that there are always new horizons, frames of reference. Plus maybe I’m flat wrong. I’m not much interested in others’ agreements or simple disagreements so much as the reasons they might offer. This medium is open to comments and dialogue.

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