…it should be obvious to you that the neuronal activity that accompanies your act of seeing the meaning of “Give me liberty or give me death” is not the same as understanding what the thought implies.
Let me show you what I’m saying just by pointing out what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to convince me that no independent meaning-processing takes place in our minds. This is what you mean to communicate to me, this the point you want me to see. But is your point, the meaning you wish to communicate, purely a matter of neuronal transactions and brain states? Are you trying to alter certain of my brain events or to get me to see something to be the case? If it’s the latter, then meaning is something different from physiological states of affairs. You could say it’s dependent on a physiological substrate, but you would still have to admit that it’s not the same thing as the physiological transaction itself.
You can’t be convinced of something by the action of certain physical causes in your central nervous system. You’re convinced by reasons. You disagree with me because you haven’t seen enough reason to agree. Meaning is all about reasons and not causes. If I say a poem is beautiful, neither my message nor its truth is reducible to neuronal excitement in given regions of the cerebral cortex. It’s all about concepts, reasons and meanings, not causes and effects. I cannot see how you can dispute any of this without blatant self-contradiction.
(The Wonder of the World by Roy Abraham Varghese :165,166)
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
A philosophy of insight from some geek to guru dialogues, the guru pointing out that what matters most to us typically isn't matter and mechanisms: