Sunday, April 17, 2005

Babes, Science and Philosophy

A comment for those who have babies. Those little ones that cry. What is going on...

"Let’s follow the path when, for example, a child’s cry is heard at night. The long thalamus route sends the sound signal to the temporal cortex, located on the sides of the brain. The sound is deciphered step by step. Is it a noun or a verb? Is it part of a string of words, or does it stand alone as an exclamation? Then, what sound is it?—A voice. A child’s voice. You have a long- term memory of that type of sound. It is familiar. One of your kids. The chain is now complete. The temporal cortex now knows that your child is calling for help and sends this information to the amygdala, which has already received a hint of the emergency via the direct route to the amygdala’s subconscious, emotional memory. In response, it has already induced preliminary reactions, such as adrenalin influx to get the body energized for moving. From the amygdala, the call for action heads to another limbic location, the hypothalamus and the cerebellum, which goad your sleepy body into organized motion. You stumble off toward where you think your child’s bed is located. Your memory, which is speculated to be a pattern of previously established axon-dendrite synapses somewhere within the cerebellum, having been initially laid down through actions of the hippocampus—also a part of the limbic system—provides this information.

Isn’t anything simple in biology? The answer is no. Our every act is comprised of miraculous biochemistry.

And you thought you were just responding to your kid’s call. You were, but not in quite the direct fashion your brain told you about it—or more accurately stated, not quite how you consciously perceived it. The brain doesn’t bother your conscious mind with all the minute analyses involved in deciphering the signals, analyses that might make cryptology seem simple. All that is performed by the other you, the you you never ever meet. But it is there, housed inside the same head that lets “you” hear your daughter and see a rose and smell its fragrance. All held by what seems to be nothing other than a hundred thousand million axons, each having thousands of terminals, con necting and interconnecting with a million billion (1,000,000,000,000,000) dendrites.

Of course, a nineteenth-century view of the world can justify the archaic belief that it all evolved by random reactions among atoms. That belief was conceived before molecular biology opened the Pandora’s box of hidden complexity. The brain has space for two versions of you: the you you never meet but that meets with you every moment of your life as it regulates all the automatic functions of your body; and the you you know so well, the one that feels as if it is just above the bridge of your nose within your forehead. The you you know is also a composite of two: the analog emotions whose source we often cannot even identify, and the particulate sensory data of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell."
(The Hidden Face of God
By Gerald Schroeder :126-127)

What has been called the reptilian brain is interesting. I wonder at the patterns inherent in man physically/literally, and patterns of associations that have long been stored in the rythm and rhyme of language.

There is a thin line between mania and creativity, schizophrenia and genius. But if a mind never tries to fight, it will never know that thin, sharp line. What goes on in the mind and the brain, around that thin line:
"In the second, more energetic case, the mind senses similarities among the stimulus and many different memories. It creates a wider web of associations. The overall “energy level” of the net—the relative flatness or incline of the probabilistic response—determines to what degree it makes narrow associations or wide ones. Clever people—and maniacs—are prone to the latter.


In his famous essay on the art of poetry, Aristotle makes a keen observation:“But the greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others; and it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity between dissimilars.” To first see similarity where others see none: This is precisely what happens in the trajectories of highly energetic networks. Widely disparate “locations” (estates) are linked together in a single train of thought. Alternatively put: More states are accessible in the quest for the best. The capacity for exploration—for entertaining linkages that might prove to be wild—is the heart of mental play. The genius toys for hours on end, exploring the craziest possibilities. Only after playing does he yield to the rational exercise of top-down logic and to judgment based on evidence. Only then does he reject wild hypotheses that prove false; refine and recompose wild hypotheses that prove true. As Feynman said of the mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan and of himself, when pressed to explain their genius: “Not so much the ability, but the desire to play around . . . I’ve always played around. . . . I was just playing, like a child playing, but with different toys.” "
(The Quantum Brain
By Jeffrey Satinover :66-67)

Compare that and the way Jesus used metaphors with the Nazis form of literalized metaphor, the physical over the spiritual:
(Proverbs in Nazi Germany, the Promulgation of Anti-Semitism and Stereotypes Through Folklore
By Wolfgang Mieder
The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 95, No. 378.(Oct. - Dec., 1982), pp. 435-464)

Then there is the modern American. Their view is increasingly that if something is not literal, then it is not true. In their mind the literal is the physical. So if Jesus said to them, "Do not throw your pearls before swine." For one thing, PETA would be upset because pigs have feelings too, and maybe they would like some pearls! But anyway, it seems to me that the modern American would tend to fail to understand the symbolism, some of it ancient. And since the statement is clearly not meant literally/physically, they would discard it because that is outside their "reality" or it has no "substance." They'd say things like,"That's just word play, it's not substantial." It seems that the only reason most Americans do not treat the words of Jesus that way is because they like to self define as Christian out of tradition and so on.

Well, there is a tangent or two.

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