class02 - Lecture #02: The Brain • Dualism o “You, your...

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Unformatted text preview: Lecture #02: The Brain • Dualism o “You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll's Alice might have phrased it, "you're nothing but a pack of neurons.” – Francis Crick This is an odd and unnatural view. Maybe you don’t believe it. Maybe you believe in dualism. Most people believe in dualism. It can be found all over the world in many diverse religions, cultures, and philosophical systems. Plato was very explicitly dualist. o Descartes (1596-1650) "Are humans merely physical machines, merely physical things?" Rene says no. We also have material bodies, but our minds are immaterial and non-physical. We are immaterial souls that possess physical bodies. • Argument 1: The creativity and spontaneity of human action o Humans can do things do that no machine could ever do. Humans are not limited to reflexive action. • Argument 2: “ Cogito ergo sum” (I think Therefore I am) o "I knew that I was a substance, the whole essence or nature of which is to think, and that for its existence, there is no need of any place nor does it depend on any material thing. That is to say, the soul by which I am, when I am, is entirely distinct from body." o Dualism as Common Sense Language • “My arm”, “my heart”, “my body”, “my brain” o Personal identity Same person after radical bodily changes Many people, one body • Slapstick, fantastical farce about an eccentric millionaire whose soul inhabits her male lawyer’s body (All of Me--Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin) o The survival of the self after the destruction of the body Heaven, afterlife, etc. • Many Americans who described themselves as atheist or having no religion still believed in the idea of heaven. o Current view: Dualism is wrong, mind = Brain There is no "you" separable or separate from your body The mind reflects the workings of the brain just like computation reflects the working of a computer. o Problems with dualism Unscientific How does the physical body connect to the immaterial soul? We have a better understanding of what physical things can do • Computers & robots can now play chess, couldn’t in Descartes’ time. Strong evidence for the role of the brain • Diseases like syphilis can make you deranged • Chemicals like caffeine and alcohol can affect how you think The Brain-- How does the brain work? • Basic unit of the brain is the neuron— We have about 1,000,000,000,000 in our bodies o There are three types of neurons, sensory neurons (take information from the world), motor neurons (tell the muscles what to do), and interneurons (make the connection between sensation and action)....
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This note was uploaded on 08/24/2010 for the course PSYC 110 taught by Professor Karenwynn during the Spring '08 term at Yale.

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class02 - Lecture #02: The Brain • Dualism o “You, your...

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