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daniel hehir


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What is the nature of consciousness? Is consciousness merely a by-product of the physical brain?

Consciousness is perhaps the greatest mystery ever to be presented to mankind. My question is: What is the nature of consciousness? How can the materialistic world view of mankind explain the phenomenon of consciousness. By its nature, which is of a totally immaterial and invisible, with its inner activity of thinking, also a totally invisible activity, which the whole of the scientific world view rests upon..."Thinking". What is thinking if not a non-physical super-sensible invisible, immaterial reality. For the scientific world view to understand itself, it must examine the nature of thinking. And in doing so, the "religious" world view will be able to find something to hang onto.Science and religion can meet on this question. Because it is here where they both fall short. Science cannot explain consciousness out of the materialistic world view. Religion cannot explain evolutionary principles in nature without adapting the scientific world view. The two are locked in an unending battle. Can it be that thinking is,in fact, the "spiritual activity of man"


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    Mar 7 2011: As a microbiologist and student of complexity, emergence and the unpredictable nature of complex systems "explained" consciousness to me. The notion of emergence comes out of science, and, along with other features of complex systems, its detailed expressions are unpredictable--something material science is just beginning to learn to deal with. On the spiritual side of unpredictability is the "aha" I experienced in realizing that the unpredictable amplification over time of complex phenomena means "nothing we do is inconsequential"--a paraphrase from Ilya Prigogine.
    • Mar 7 2011: Tell more Carolyn !!
      I'm gonna google IIya Prigogine right away...

      Have you ever read Goethe?
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        Mar 8 2011: Not yet, but I'll take a look. Thanks Daniel. In my readings on complexity, I found that people tended to concentrate on one or a few what I call "Indicators" of complex systems. Ampliifcation is the one-word description of long term effects that can snowball out of a simple incident--ie the butterfly effect. A friend said "That is really scary." The exact quote from Prigogine is "...individual activity is not doomed to insignificance." Two problems: a butterfly can get clobbered by a tornado, and what you do may have long term effects, but they will be unpredictable and out of your control. Marketeers would love to know what makes something take off ie be amplified--like Harry Potter et al.
        On the more material side of consciousness, the brain has more connections than anything else in the Universe they say. Such numbers are way beyond our ability to comprehend, as is the resulting phenomena called emergence--ie thought, etc. The brain has been called by the scientists writing for non-scientists the most complex object there is because it has so many connections.

        The quote from Prigogine can be found on page 313 of his 1984 !! book "Order Out of Chaos," the classic that helped start this whole field of study. This subject impacts every subject I can imagine. I'm afraid the math some have focused on has turned off general interest. I think you would find some of the books on the annotated bibliography at caryneeper.com fascinating. I finally found a beginning text I would use if I were still teaching--Donella Meadows' "Thinking In Systems." Enjoy. I'll be checking in at least once a day, but had better save some time for writing or this "building a platform" will swallow up too much time. Thanks for your encouraging note.
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          Mar 9 2011: Carolyn, hello and thanks for your comments. Searching info on books and their authors unveiled to me existence of such things like "Systems Theory" and "Systems Thinking"
          Thank you.

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