—–I posted the following comment in response to a piece by Paul Rodriguez, entitled “Artificial Intelligence” at The Ruricolist, last week. Then I couldn’t leave the subject alone. So a free ranging expansion is indulged in below. The same subject, in an even more oratorical fashion, is lavishly explored in a currently posted poem, “Dialogue with the Unconfessed” at my other blog Stage Poetry Company.
–—-Comment on The Ruricolist: “The idea that thoughts arise in the brain can only be dealt with as long one ignores that it is really only an idea itself. Just because it is repeated so often as to be dealt with like a statement of proven fact does not diminish it’s essential character as an idea. All ideas are forms of thought, and cannot be shifted into the category of deductions. So it is a category error to glide from idea to idea-maker (brain), and not look for an agent that links them. There is a mysterious third party involved in whatever synthesis has occurred, between thought and brain. The idea that brains cause thoughts is patently a category error, a reversal of conjecture; because the two things have no demonstrable connection, outside the laboratory that conflated them (science). This is what I think on this subject: thought is more likely what causes the brain, as mind causes body. It infuriates me that one even encounters such conundrums as “artificial intelligence.” “
—–Endless trial and error certainly does not constitute a method for obtaining truth. Only it can overwhelm and exhaust, with directed and prejudicial studies. But one experiment is sufficient in this arena, where thought and the brain are being considered together. For one can take away thought entirely, and still have the brain. A dispassionately considered brain, in a dish. Conversely though, one can take away the brain, piece by piece, and never find a thought. They don’t correlate. More to the point still, one can live with their thoughts endlessly without consideration of the brain. I am showing these two things are fundamentally not related as by cause and effect. Do not barge into my study, and shoot me now! I am showing the two are not in the same realm. I am thinking about my brain! Lesser minds might leap to the thought that the brain is the author of thought. Hmm! Pretty stupid idea–I mean that is the kind of quick association only an idiot would come up with. But, the the idea that thoughts arise in the brain is, beyond being idiotic, also convicted at the outset of being, guess what! first an idea, occurring before the brain is figured into its scheme–you might say. Voila, I have defeated my own brain.
—–Something though, continuously holds and redrives this idea, that the brain authors and manufactures thought, now in depth psychology and its step child: neurophysics. Obsessively, thought will ask the chronic, the boring old philosophical question about itself: where did I come from? And look, dumbly, for an origin, as if it could see itself happening. I am sorry this is happening to you, thought is saying–forgetting its once imperial authority, forgetting even how to phrase the question so it’s middle term does not slip into a black mirror. Forgetting the obscurity from whence it arose!
—–Yet it must be recognized that it is an idea that has set up this circular argument, in which a body of science is amassed, this scientific method based on an assumption, that has allowed one to posit a relationship between mind and brain. Always it is felt, and it is seen, that this working truth is transparently a leap, a tautology, merely subsequent to a hope, and suddenly it seems quite flimsy. I grow cold, and face a failure of thought itself, which I know can always exist without the physical. And I am backing down from the task that immediately faces thought, which is solving itself by means of itself. Sure, thought has an identity problem, but it is not solved by shoving it into the vessel of the brain.
—–Facing the thought itself that this thought is first an idea, and only by fiat attributed to the brain, causes what you might call, fashionably!, a system failure. A heavy load of guilt will result, a shirking of primordial duties, and an abnegation of the immediate flash fear that this idea has an author. Like yourself. One should have to face the bare origin of this idea. And attribute the idea that thoughts arise in the brain to another category. Like, as what seems like the weakest, or the chanciest, choice of all–to the category of a sheer thrilling assumptions, a flicker, a first inkling like of being born wholly into mystery.
—–This indeed must have parallels, and even be of an historical origin, this mistake.The history of the world seems recoverable in thought, like in a reverse serial. Somewhere it happened, this idea like in general, with no author (yes, this is the impersonal devil of historical inquiry, which will always come face to face with its bait), that thought seems to have a relationship with the body so intimately that it must therefore somehow direct the body, a conclusion that devilishly, and entirely, shifts the ground. Because the next step is, forgetting how we got there, to reverse the cause and effect entirely. Simply put, the idea that thought belongs to, or is associated with the brain isn’t the same idea as that thought arises in or is actually a product of the brain. The thought that the brain is the actual creator and province of thought is clearly a leap, and like going through a mirror. A shortcut, and a short circuit, and these circuits are now multiplying, because technology is driven by nature and runs in its marrow.
—–The bodiless imagination, like a poet, can say anything. Don’t I know it. These are thoughts that only arise once there is a brain to deal with. Try as you may you cannot get around the mysterious origin of thought, and find the agent and call it a brain. Much less a ganglia of neurons; you might as well call it a computer, for all the accuracy that has. The truth is, the mind has no analogy, and is compared to everything in its time. Thought itself quite clearly precedes any necessity, any history, any failing, inquisitive person, though they be already reeking of life. If it has configured an explanation for itself, then a configuration is all it has, an idea shot through with holes, which is hardly foolproof, a theory of itself as having a fanciful origin–or better yet, a dull materialistic origin, that will put a stop to this inquiry! But, I repeat, hands flying in the air, right now as I type it, emphatically, explanatory ideas of the origin of thought are not made of the same thing, not of the same caliber, as the idea which is synonymously thought itself. Thought is a reiteration and no body. What produced it? Or preceded it, in any scheme and any order of creation. Surely, not a brain. Please do not make me laugh.
—–I must go on a little longer. I must rephrase. Like The Ruricolist, this subject kills me. It was thought that thought of the brain, mind produced the configuration of a body, creation coalesced. Then, mind and body both existing and performing in apparent tandem, specific formulations were possible as to what the correlation between them could be, ideas arose as to the relationship of these two realities. Always it was obvious which was lord, and had priority. Then, astoundingly, as if in an apostasy of historic forgetfulness, the idea arose that the brain produced thought. An absurd, and yet sort of bold and exciting, for its sheer impossibility, reversal of the truth.
—–One must only transfer a certain familiar facility of mind to this area of sheer philosophy, for this area may be in dire neglect, I fear (though I do not know, for I only live on a sidestreet, half a block from the moon–and have such a limited palette, or drawing tablet, often feeling I should be more . . . poetic!). But–
—–Right now, I think the question becomes comical, and is: where does the brain come from? Keeping in mind that we have a tool, thought, reason, we may be able to find out where the brain came from. It may turn out to be a miracle. For in fact it is the physical that is the unforeseen, the dumbshow, the miraculous, appearing as if a result of thought. Thought, which is established, obviously, before one can think to, say, employ it, thought!–with which a person starts. And returns to, over and over, no matter how vibrantly it has achieved a life. One is not given these meditations by virtue of having a splendid body to inhabit; one does not grow a mind, though we are synchronized now, I see. But the mind indeed might, for all its heroic striving and tripping difficulty, grow a body. I just don’t remember, but I am ecstatic–and that is the perfect word for it.