Neuroscientist says the brain isn't for thinking

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A neuroscientist says your brain isn't for thinking - just-surviving. A new article in the New York Times (paywall), discussed here

It's amazing how utterly wrong-headed and even self-contradictory committed materialists can be. 

From the discussion at Mind Matters:

Quote:First, in her view, your brain is merely a “command center” that evolved from a “tiny sea creature” over countless aeons to run your complex body. Your brain doesn’t even exist in order to think:

“Your brain’s most important job isn’t thinking; it’s running the systems of your body to keep you alive and well. According to recent findings in neuroscience, even when your brain does produce conscious thoughts and feelings, they are more in service to the needs of managing your body than you realize.” — Lisa Feldman Barrett, “Your Brain Is Not for Thinking” at New York Times

She asks us to image our brains as operating a series of deposits and withdrawals …


For one thing, if the brain is really just a mechanism for deposits and withdrawals, who or what thought up the image that describes it that way? Unthinking things cannot characterize themselves. The brain is characterized, correctly or otherwise, by something that operates with but beyond the brain. For convenience, we refer to it as the mind. (note -this looks like interactive dualism of course)

While we are here, neuroscience tends to support the reality of the mind, even though many neuroscientists are not in a rush to tell us that.
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Maybe you can view it via this link? Idk, seemed to work for me:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/23/opini...tress.html

Edit: She has a blog as well with a list of articles. She seem to be much more interested in emotions than consciousness.
(This post was last modified: 2020-12-01, 09:13 PM by OmniVersalNexus.)
As someone who got an (admittedly undergrad) degree in mathematics, and even that was 10,000 years ago, it's hard for me to square this idea of humanity's mental foundations resting on instinctively guided sea creatures.

Is the Fundamental Theory of Calculus really just the result of animal processes rather than a discovery of a context-less "Platonic" truth?

What about all the mathematical proofs from graph theory, discrete mathematics, and so on that allows the Internet to exist and effectively function so people can pay the NYTimes for the pleasure of reading in pixels how [according to these materialists] worthless human existence is?
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2020-11-30, 09:23 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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(2020-11-30, 09:12 PM)OmniVersalNexus Wrote: Maybe you can view it via this link? Idk, seemed to work for me:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/23/opini...tress.html

Edit: Here's her blog as well with a list of articles. She seem to be much more interested in emotions than consciousness.

Unfortunately it doesn't work for me. I just get a subscription request.
Sorry about that. I'll see if I can quote her article:
Quote:...Your brain’s most important job isn’t thinking; it’s running the systems of your body to keep you alive and well. According to recent findings in neuroscience, even when your brain does produce conscious thoughts and feelings, they are more in service to the needs of managing your body than you realize. And in stressful times like right now, this curious perspective on your mental life may actually help to lessen your anxieties. Much of your brain’s activity happens outside your awareness. In every moment, your brain must figure out your body’s needs for the next moment and execute a plan to fill those needs in advance. For example, each morning as you wake, your brain anticipates the energy you’ll need to drag your sorry body out of bed and start your day. It proactively floods your bloodstream with the hormone cortisol, which helps make glucose available for quick energy.

Your brain runs your body using something like a budget. A financial budget tracks money as it’s earned and spent. The budget for your body tracks resources like water, salt and glucose as you gain and lose them. Each action that spends resources, such as standing up, running, and learning, is like a withdrawal from your account. Actions that replenish your resources, such as eating and sleeping, are like deposits.

The scientific name for body budgeting is allostasis. It means automatically predicting and preparing to meet the body’s needs before they arise. Consider what happens when you’re thirsty and drink a glass of water. The water takes about 20 minutes to reach your bloodstream, but you feel less thirsty within mere seconds. What relieves your thirst so quickly? Your brain does. It has learned from past experience that water is a deposit to your body budget that will hydrate you, so your brain quenches your thirst long before the water has any direct effect on your blood.

...your own experience is rarely a guide to your brain’s inner workings. Every thought you have, every feeling of happiness or anger or awe you experience, every kindness you extend and every insult you bear or sling is part of your brain’s calculations as it anticipates and budgets your metabolic needs.

This view of the brain has many implications for understanding human beings. So often, for example, we conceive of ourselves in mental terms, separate from the physical. A bad stomach ache that follows an indulgent meal may send us to the gastroenterologist, but if we experience that same ache during a messy divorce, we may head to a psychotherapist instead...

...Anxiety does not cause stomach aches; rather, feelings of anxiety and stomach aches are both ways that human brains make sense of physical discomfort. There is no such thing as a purely mental cause, because every mental experience has roots in the physical budgeting of your body. This is one reason physical actions like taking a deep breath, or getting more sleep, can be surprisingly helpful in addressing problems we traditionally view as psychological. We’re all living in challenging times, and we’re all at high risk for disrupted body budgets. If you feel weary from the pandemic and you’re battling a lack of motivation, consider your situation from a body-budgeting perspective. Your burden may feel lighter if you understand your discomfort as something physical. When an unpleasant thought pops into your head, like “I can’t take this craziness anymore,” ask yourself body-budgeting questions. “Did I get enough sleep last night? Am I dehydrated? Should I take a walk? Call a friend? Because I could use a deposit or two in my body budget.”...

I’m not saying you can snap your fingers and dissolve deep misery, or sweep away depression with a change of perspective. I’m suggesting that it’s possible to acknowledge what your brain is actually doing and take some comfort from it...
(This post was last modified: 2020-12-01, 09:13 PM by OmniVersalNexus.)
Boy that article is a hot take if I've ever seen one. First off, the brain isnt for thinking it's just for survival? Very THOUGHTFUL of you.

Wife left you? Everything's falling apart and you feel like killing yourself? Just think, did I get enough sleep last night? How's my diet? Will make it all better.

It feels like the same kind of perspective as the miracle pill. Well if you're depressed and feel sick because of it, just take this PILL and it will fix all those silly brain chemicals. And since the brain is just chemicals, you'll instantly feel better! Don't talk to anyone or see a therapist, that's only silly mental things, and obviously they don't mean anything cause you're only your body.
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I do think she had good intentions with this article, and has in the past, but oof...some of those claims come across as potentially quite insulting and offensive to people struggling with mental health issues that she seems to take a very reductionist perspective towards. Or at least that's how she came across here, maybe I'm not understanding correctly...

How exactly can my death anxiety, stress and confidence issues be dealt with this way exactly? I've heard of the strategy of visualising thoughts flowing in and out of your mind, but I don't think that's what she means here.
(2020-11-30, 09:31 PM)OmniVersalNexus Wrote: I'll see if I can quote her article in full

Omni, our Guidelines for reproducing external content don't permit that. Could you please limit the amount you've quoted to conform to those guidelines, unless one of the exceptions noted there holds? Likewise for this post in the NDE Text Resources Thread.
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I was trying to articulate this before and just deleted the post instead, but I can't help but feel the very idea of "me" checking up on my mental states for proper withdrawals and deposits at least invokes a functional dualism. And it's hard to see exactly where the "me", the Thinker, gets cashed out in the language of atoms, field effects, or whatever materialists think explains consciousness.

I'd heard it said that fairies have no souls."

"Then do I ache, and bleed, and smart, elsewhere; still, call it soul for it is solely mine."
   -Neil Gaiman, World's End

That said I do think there's value in separating the I-Self, at least partially, from varied emotional states. So yeah sometimes my irritation or even cynicism is more to do with lack of sleep than revelations about the world. Sometimes you do need a Snickers.

OTOH, there are clearly times where this is not adequate, and as Smaw points out downright insulting. Yet even here there's value in making some distinction. It's come up in Eastern, Irish, Greek, and many other Culture's thoughts**, that rather than "being sad" or "being happy" the emotions come upon you.

So you are not just your fears, your hopes, etc. Technically this is called Further Fact Theory of Identity...I think. But the gist is if you wrote a book with all the facts about yourself there'd still be one fact missing, which is the "you" who observes. Yeah you can write "me as observer" in the book, but if you are genuinely observing that observer you've just gone up a level...

**Or as some of us believe/suspect, this sort of wisdom is part of the Perennial Wisdom Tradition which includes not just this life but life on the "other side".
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2020-12-01, 04:56 AM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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