Thanks to Tyson I now have the opportunity to share my thoughts in a more direct manner. Some of you might have noticed me from the comment sections of this blog (check out my “About Roger” page for more information). I hope to supply both new and old stuff about, but not limited to, religion.
For my first post please put on your amateur science hat, it is time for the “layman’s hypothesis quarter”. [Disclamer: The following is purely speculative and the author probably has no clue what he is talking about]
I came to think of the phenomenon of the human mind the other day. It is no doubt that the function of the brain is a complex process, but does consciousness itself really have to be that complex? Reading Daniel Dennett gave me a insight, which I would like to share and hear your opinions on.
Dennett’s term “free floating rationale” might describe what consciousness really is. The term describes behaviors or events that are caused without agents knowing the reasons behind its creation and perpetuation. For example, “How clever it was of sheep to acquire shepherds”; sheep have increased their survivability tremendously through the protection of stewards, but this was of course not a conscious decision on the part of the sheep.
In the spirit of this example, the thoughts and ideas of consciousness may be agents which are operating unknowingly of their causation. The usefulness of this approach is to cover the otherwise apparent gap between the underlying complex biology of the brain and the experience of the mind. Consciousness might be understood in the same way natural selection evolves species without their understanding of the process, or the way memes spread while being unaware of their own meaning.
The neurons of the brain communicates by activating complex synaptic pathways. Thoughts, feelings and memories correspond to different patterns of activation, but although neural activation is a necessary condition it doesn’t explain anything. But if we look at the pattern itself as isolated from the biologic event we might comprehend conciousness. Conciousness simply becomes the sum of it’s parts.
Dennett has also compared the mind to many small robots working together as a team. This works well for describing the operation of the brain on a functional level, but does not cover consciousness. My hypothesis views the brain as a unit, because the mind is experienced as a unit as well.
Interesting conclusions follows. A computer would have to be ascribed a conciousness (at least when a multi-process operating system is utilized). There are different programs, simple and complex, running in parallel which all affect each other. This often generates unpredicted results. We always say computers have a mind on their own, don’t we?
I would love to hear comments on this. Anyone is welcome to play expert.