What’s on your mind? Have you ever seen that line? Quite a few people have.
Have you given much thought to what that means? What’s on your mind? Baseball statistics (a pet peeve of mine)? Soap opera? If you’re a male of the species, chances are, that you’ve had sex on your mind in the last five minutes, and more than once. According to statistics, that is. If that’s not an accurate picture of your world, don’t be offended, just count yourself in the percentage that don’t think about sex that often (not that there’s anything wrong about it unless you lust after someone you shouldn’t). Do I think about how I could be a more loving husband and father? How I could be of assistance to someone around me who is needy? That question should perhaps bring to our mind lots of useful things.
Well, would you and I pass a Turing Test? If you’re too lazy to read the Wikipedia article I linked to, here’s a quick explanation: A Turing Test tries to figure out if you’re a human intelligence or a machine. For lots of computer transactions there are many motives of finding out whether you’re dealing with a human or a machine executing a script.
Does the idea that you might not be distinguishable from a machine bother you?
It should. What is our mind and consciousness? “I think, therefore I am,” said Descartes. I think of that often.
Our physical brain can apparently produce consciousness. How does that relate to my spirit and personality? How much are my spirit and personality limited and shaped by my physical brain? I know that my physical movement is shaped and limited by my body. I can dream of leaping over skyscrapers in Superman style, but I can’t do it. But I think that we’re approaching the time when and fMRI will be able to show certain areas of your brain activating in certain situations, and that will prove that a specific process is going on. As of now, the fMRI results just are a bit too vague and all over the map.
But wait! Isn’t mind something more abstract than an electrochemical organ? It has been argued, that mind is a non-physical entity. And if we think of Mormon theology, in Section 93 in Doctrine & Covenants we are told that “man was also in the beginning with God.” I take that to mean, that just as the Bible says that in the beginning was the Word (Yahweh/Jesus), the Word was God and was “with God.” I am not quite certain as to how to interpret that exactly — obviously we are not all gods as of yet, although we have godly potential.
However, that has lead me to speculate that there is a certain consciousness that we have, a personality, if you will, that we were, before we were born. This “spirit/intelligence” is not immaterial, it just is of a different order. Now we know that there is information that gets transferred over long distances without anything measurable being emitted/transmitted by anything. (i.e. plants can communicate that there is an invasion of bugs and start producing an acid that makes their leaves less tasty for the bugs or flipping quants over longish distances in a quantum computer — we don’t know exactly why they work the way they do, and how they transmit the information, we just know there’s certain predictability about phenomena we can observe).
And back to this material spirit, which resides in our body and on the one hand gives life to our body — there are scientist who say that certain chemical reactions keep us alive, but it has also proved an insurmountable task to produce such reactions in a laboratory despite having everything present that should do it. Don’t get me wrong; I have no intention of knocking down science, which is very important for our society and our well-being.
The question I’d like to ask is this: When the neurophysiologist sees an activation of a certain area in my brain when I, for example, pray and feel something spiritual or try to solve a Sudoku, we have a chicken-egg situation; does the thought/feeling produce the electrochemical reaction, or the reaction produce the conscious thought/feeling. (My guess is that influence goes both ways; it’s a kind of a tie.)
While you’re thinking about that, add to the equation the idea of leaping over tall buildings, again like Superman. Now change the image to you picking up a glass of water and drinking it. What exactly produced the movement when you picked up the glass? What originated the electrochemical reactions that actually made your hand move — we know that our central nervous system (CNS) is a very highly evolved organism that has automated many routine tasks like flexing this muscle and releasing that one, which eventually produces movement. Ask yourself why you can’t leap over the building, but you can pick up the glass (assuming you have at least one hand that works)? Your physical limitations come to play. Your physical reality limits what your body can do.
Can we transfer this analogy to how our mind works? Is that equation so difficult for me to solve because my brain lacks certain switches, that my intelligence could otherwise solve? (I understand intelligence to be certain ability to know (be conscious of) something and make some conclusions that lead to actions. I have no pretension to authority in this question.)
I don’t know the answer, I’m just asking the questions. I’m sure if I were to dig a bit deeper and pay money for publications that have the latest results I would know more, but there’s the time limitation, too. For example, S.Faux wrote here about this issue, and I’ll let you read that yourself. I’ll just comment on the idea that language is apparently a very important piece of the puzzle of the mind. One can’t solve an equation one can not describe to oneself.
“Cogito, ergo sum.” — at least I hope so!
And I try to keep these posts under a thousand words…