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Everything posted by DrmDoc

  1. Forgive this delayed response but there is a definition for "mind". Mind is the environment of cognitive activity within a brain, which arises from that brain's functional matrix. That matrix involves a brain's capacity to integrate dicotomous sensory stimuli with its memory functions to produce behaviors independent of an organism's instinct. In essence, an organism has a mind when its behaviors suggest a thought process--a process that allows an organism to engage behaviors contrary to its instinctive nature. To produce a mind, an organism must demostrate a capacity to experience stimuli and an associative capacity to store and recall the affects of that stimuli. This is more about the science of brain function that philosophy.
  2. If I may add a final thought on this interest, certainly consciousness, by my definition, isn't a particularly rare quality to be found among the vast variety of organisms we may find on our planet. What elevates and makes an expression of consciousness comparatively special is whether that consciousness produces or provides evidence of a mind. Although an organism's behaviors may suggest some measure of awareness, those behaviors may not necessarily suggest that the organism has a mind. Mind and consciousness are distinctly different qualities where one of those qualities arises from and cannot exist without the other--mind cannot exist without a consciousness as its progenitor.
  3. Pardon my late arrival to this question whose answer, IMO, depends on how we defind consciousness. From a perspective in science, consciousness is merely the awareness suggested by an organism's responses to stimuli. Using this perspectvie virtually any organism, whose behaviors are observed reactions to a stimulus, can be considered as possessing consciousness. This view infers that consciousness isn't a quality unique to humans and that it may manifest in varying degrees depending on the orgasm being observed. Whether an organism posesses a human-like degree of consciousness depends on observed behaviors suggesting humanlike reactions to comparably humanlike stimuli. For example, an animal that appears to greive over the loss of an offspring may be viewed as having a human equivalent effective state we observe in humans as sorrow.
  4. Although brain function may appear computational, computation is not what drives its functional matrix. What the brain is or isn't is likely more closely aligned with the biological engine at the basis of brain function. That engine is homestasis, which means the brain's functional output is driven by its metabolic equillibrium.
  5. More like the DNA of the earliest humans would appear in the Russians, Chinese, and British rather than conversely.
  6. "Scientists discovered an absolutely massive bacterium that can be seen without the aid of a microscope and lurks among the mangroves of Grande-Terre in the Caribbean, Science magazine reported." That comment is from a Live Science article about a new bacterium, 2 centimeters long, that was recently discovered in the Caribbean. Enjoy!
  7. Laws do not exist unless the Legislative branch proposes them and the Executive branch signs-off or approves them. A law may continue to exist as long as it isn't challenged as a violation of our Constitution, which is where the SCOTUS intercedes. A law may be rendered unenforceable if they do not agree with the primary law of our land, which is our Constitution as interpreted by the SCOTUS. Understand that if a law is rendered permissible by a SCOTUS ruling, this not the making of that law but rather the judgement of that law as to whether it is valid and enforceable under our Constitution. That judgement of a law's validation doesn't occur unless it is challenged before the Supreme Court. A law may be valid if it isn't challenged and after that challenge, a SCOTUS ruling merely guides how that law may be applied by government going forward.
  8. No, they do not make laws, they merely decide whether a law is constitutional. If that law is constitutional, then it has a compelling governing force among our citizenry; if it is unconstitutional, then those who engage practices against that law do not have to fear legal reprisals and may engage those practices freely. Laws are proposed by the Legislative branches of our government and do not become law until they are signed by the Executive branches of our government.
  9. No specific Federal law, but legal rulings on the regulations governing same have been rendered by the SCOTUS that legally permitted the practice.
  10. The US Constitution is the foundation for all laws in our country and it is the SCOTUS job to reconcile these modern times with that foundation. The laws that permit and regulate abortion in our country must be tracible to our constitutional foundation in some discernable way. For example, the laws that govern abortion are tracible to the laws in our Constitution that govern personal freedom and whether government has the right to abridge that freedom. If a law can be traced to the Constitution, then it can be adjudicated on that basis and, if it cannot, then the law is invalid and must be dismissed on that basis. These modern times doesn't have to appear in the wording of the Constitution, but their laws must be based on that foundation.
  11. It matters when a majority of our SCJ rule a law or lower court ruling to be either constitutional or not constitutional. If a law or rule is judged to be constitutional, then that law or rule is enforceable and must be honored by the various governing bodies of our country who are charged with maintaining our social order, freedom, and stability. Conversely, an unconstitutional law is unenforceable and our citizens cannot be compelled to adhere to that law. Our society is comprised of both Conservative and Liberal citizens who want these SCJ rulings to reflect their differing ideas and values. The "hand-wringing" comes when our court's rulings appear to lean in a partisan or political direction incongruent with the separate ideas and values each side holds--which is why we want Justices on our Supreme Court who are likely to constitutionally validate laws that favor our views over the oppositions.
  12. Just to add my tardy 2 cents to this discussion, the SCOTUS doesn't make laws nor necessarily interpret laws. The SCOTUS decides whether a new law or a lower court ruling conforms to our Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land. Laws are proposed by the Legislative branch of our government, which is the House of Representatives and Senate. These proposed laws or bills only become law when they are signed by the POTUS. New laws that change our Constitution must go through this process in addition to having a majority of our individual state governments ratify that change. The Supreme Court has no intercession in this process unless they are presented with a challenge to a law or ruling. The members of our Supreme Court decides whether a challenged law or court ruling conforms to their individual interpretation of our Constitution, which is not an interpretation of the new law or ruling but whether these legal instruments agree with the intent of our Constitution as paved by its original signers. In deciding whether some legal challenge is valid, the process can become partisan or political through the individual interpretations of our Constitution as held by the Justices on our Supreme Court.
  13. Although I agree this perspective appears plausible, it really isn't a possibly if this dying brain was experiencing a dreamlike state as its gamma waves appeared to suggest. If near-death brain function produces a dreamlike state, then our perceptions within that state are more likely interpretations of what the brain believes it is experiencing. This suggests that the dying brain's perceptual experiences are interpretations of what is happening to it rather than a memory search for those interpretations.
  14. If I may further elaborate, the initial impact of any stimuli on brain function is a cognitive response, which is essentially a response that minimally suggests an awareness of some state of stimulation. The brain waves these researchers observed as their epileptic patient died certainly suggests that this patient's brain was experiencing some state of stimulation. How a dying brain reacts to stimuli should inform our assessment of how this brain interprets the stimuli associated with that state. At the very least, this research suggests that this patience's dying brain experienced that stimulus visually and in a dreamlike state. If we can agree that the dying brain is engaging an interpretive process, then it is very unlikely that "life flashes" are part of that process. I believe it is likely that a dying brain is more engaged in the experience of what is having an immediate impact on its function than experiences that are far removed. Memories of a life lived doesn't interpret the process of dying, which is a state antithetical to life. Accordingly, the process of dying is likely more aptly interpreted as entering a state from which others of similar experience has not returned. Rather than a review of the patient's life experiences to understand what it may be presently experiencing, I believe the dying brain interprets that experience in the present as something that is happening now rather than as something it has encountered before. This would present as experiencing some perceptual change of state--a perceived transition from some former state to another.
  15. "For the first time, doctors have collected detailed brain wave activity before and after a sudden death. In their interpretation, the researchers suggest life may indeed 'flash before our eyes'—but other experts aren’t so convinced." That quote is from a Popular Science article discussing a conclusion presented by Estonia doctors from their assessment of brain waves recordings of a patient in epileptic distress who unexpectedly died amid the seizure they were monitoring. The doctors recorded evidence of gamma and alpha waves, which they associated with "dreaming and memory retrieval", "information processing and the visual cortex" respectively. In a Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience paper on this event, researchers speculated "that such activity could support a last 'recall of life' that may take place in the near-death state". Although I do agree that this patient's dying brain did experience something, I do not believe it was quite what these researchers suggest. I am not a neuroscientist; however, my years of personal study and interest in the unconscious nature of brain function suggests to me that these recordings merely support the primary nature of brain function, which envelopes an effort to maintain its metabolic balance. Brain activity engages as a metabolic response to stimuli, which is the impetus for all brain function. Our brain's metabolic responses to stimuli primarily begins--and is perceived by us--as an interpretation of that stimuli. This is our brain's effort to first understand what it is experiencing before engaging a reciprocal, metabolically counterbalancing response to that experience. If intact as it dies, I believe our dying brain proceeds to interpret what it believes it is experiencing in the absences the perceptual cues associated with life and the living. To a conscious mind, this interpretive response would present as a lucidly real experience as though the individual is entering a real place where others who are deceased have gone. To be clear, this is not about an afterlife but rather about a dying brain's understanding that it is experiencing something from which it will not recover.
  16. "A mathematician from Harvard University has (mostly) solved a 150-year-old Queen's gambit of sorts: the delightful n queens puzzle. In newly self-published research (meaning it has not yet been peer-reviewed), Michael Simkin, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard's Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications, estimated the solution to the thorny math problem, which is based loosely on the rules of chess." That quote is from a Popular Mechanic's article on research self-published through Cornell University. I don't quite understand the math, but I thought it might be an interesting read if only for its references to chess. Enjoy!
  17. I believe our highest courts should reflect the diversity of our citizenry; therefore, I think Biden's pre-judgement on the type of candidate to be select is correct. To infer that a selection should be based on merit doesn't invalidate that qualification as long as it also brings the requisite diversity to our highest court. Diversity is essential to the fairness, balance, and inclusion we Americans should all hope to achieve through our justice system.
  18. Pardon my late entry to this topic and retread of prior opinions possibly expressed more eloquently but, ideally, a high-court jurist in America's system of justice should not only be qualified, competent and capable, but also representative of our nation's people--ideally. But that hasn't always been true for America and it's not true now. The majority composition of our nation's highest court is representative of the people who have held power over our system of government since the inception of our nation. Unfortunately, selecting high-court jurists who are more racially representative of our nation's diversity doesn't necessarily guaranty that they will render opinions reflecting that representation (e.g., Justice Clarence Thomas). Clarence has consistently sided with those court decisions that tend to undo the progress of fairness towards the treatment of our nation's non-Caucasian citizens. However, if the ideal is truly what we hope to reflect as a nation, then Biden has very little choice in the matter. His choice must be a qualified, competent, and fully capable woman of color because no other distinction can contribute the perspective of law that her life experience as a woman of color uniquely provides.
  19. Greetings, Unless otherwise inspired, this will be my last entry on this topic. After a revelation of sorts, I’ve hesitated to engage further discussions of this nature. My hesitancy involved a critical understanding of what homeostasis--the driving force of brain function--truly suggests about the basic nature of mind and consciousness, generally, and humanity overall. If you’ll recall from my prior comments, homeostasis infers a system of brain function where maintaining functional stability is the primary progenitor of all behavioral expressions and responses. In greater context, our actions and reactions, thoughts and feelings emerge from a biological system balancing on what seems a razor’s edge of stability with afferent stimuli balanced against efferent responses within the brain. The manifest expression and nature of mind and consciousness are essentially a balance between extremes ultimately suggesting that we do not function without instability. If you truly understand the significance of that last suggestion, you’d probably understand why I’m hesitant to engage further discussion on this subject. However, I said I would discuss the nature of our unconscious mind in brain function in my previous post and so I shall. Our conscious mind is merely a product of unconscious processes, which means that our consciously perceived and recognized behaviors emerge from processes that occur below or beyond the threshold of our conscious awareness. In the brain, those processes begin when afferent stimuli enter the thalamus. The thalamus isn’t well understood or recognized, in my opinion, for its prominent place in our brain’s evolution. In my model of that evolution, the thalamus emerges as the first iteration of our contemporary brain with a right and left hemispheric configuration. It was a proto-brain where all stimuli initially arrived and from where all efferent responses ultimately issued when at its functional pinnacle. Presently, even without its congenital cortical connections, research suggests our thalamus would serve its evolved function sufficiently to viably sustain life. It’s likely that the thalamus is where our instinctive, reflexive behavioral responses originate. Our unconscious mind, accordingly, appears to be more reflexive and doesn’t appear to engage a thought process. If true, this would suggest that the unconscious mind doesn’t quite conform to my initial definition of “Mind” at the beginning of this discussion; wherein, its expressions and responses should appear to emerge from a thought process that produces behaviors independent of instinct. What isn’t very clear to most of us is that our unconscious mind does indeed provide evidence of a thought process as suggested by the most active state of unconscious brain function—REM sleep. I will end my discussion here but will remain available for your further thoughts and critique if interest persists.
  20. Greetings, The greatest mysteries aren’t those that lay at our oceans’ deepest depths or beyond the furthest edge of our universe but in fathoming the seemingly infinite potential of our unconscious mind. We all exist in an Eden of ignorance considering the level of our current understanding and perception of the unconscious mind. We do not understand the true nature of the unconscious clearly and what we do understand is merely whimsy and conjecture without a firm foundation in brain function. Most of what is understood in science about our unconscious mind is based on behavioral studies and observations. To be clear, these studies and observations merely reveal expressions of the unconscious rather than its construct in brain function which, if understood, would explain how those expressions emerge as specific behaviors. So, what is the unconscious mind? In earlier comments, I described mind as the environment of cognitive activity in within the brain that arises from brain function. As I have described so many times before in this science forum, our brain function produces just two distinctive states of cognitive activity—conscious and unconscious. The conscious state is that level of awareness you are engaging now by reading my comments here as I have written them. The unconscious state is that level of your awareness that perceives all the noises and influences beyond your current reading space that has, until now, escaped your notice or, in other words, escaped your conscious awareness. Some authorities will use the term subconscious synonymously in reference to the unconscious mind. Don’t be deceived by these individuals because they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Subconscious is not an observable or testable state of brain function and, therefore, subconscious is not a mind relative to brain function. Subconscious describes a mental influence or operative nature rather than the mind itself (e.g., our unconscious mind operates subconsciously). Previously, I referenced hemostasis as the biological basis and system for brain function that produces a mind. Within that system, the delivery of stimuli creates an imbalance that produces responses to restore that balance. Within the brain, the delivery of sensory stimuli requires and uses energy, which generates biological responses to restore the energy used persistent with that stimulus. Conscious awareness is a response to sensory stimuli that has reached those areas of our brain that generates and mediates our conscious responses. To be clear, all sensory stimulus reaches the brain; however, not all stimuli to the brain generates a conscious cognitive response. What we perceive and respond to consciously is unconsciously filtered and merely the smallest fraction of what our brain intakes from one micro moment to the next. Our unconscious brain function experiences everything and filters what reaches our conscious response system. At this moment, your conscious perceptions are merely a pinpoint on a mountain of sensory data that has not reached your conscious awareness—your unconscious mind has filtered and retains that data. In my next post, if interest persist, I will attempt to be more specific on how the unconscious mind is likely distinguishable through thalamic processes in the brain function. I welcome thoughts.
  21. Greetings, In previous discussions, I alluded to an "attribute" of consciousness. To further refine, consciousness describes the observable attributes of an organism's awareness suggested by that organism's responses to stimuli. Some of us may view consciousness as an esoteric, abstract quality of little to no scientific gravitas. Contrary to that view, these "observable attributes" places consciousness firmly within the realm of science. Mind emerges from consciousness and, I ask, how well do you understand your mind and yourself with little to no concept of either? We can categorize evidence of consciousness, if human equivalent, by two primary and observable attributes of awareness comparable to humans: Sensory awareness and mental awareness. Sensory awareness is evident by an organism's behavioral responses to stimuli and mental awareness is suggested by behaviors that infer a thought process. Behaviors that infer a though process are evidence that an organism possesses a mind. Although humans possess a mind, many of us have no knowledge or interest in how that quality evolved or how it emerges through brain function. Perhaps that's a good thing because we all routinely titter on the edge of rampant insanity due to the basic biological nature of our mind's emerge in brain function (see homeostasis). Maintaining mental stability is thrust upon an emerging mind from the moment of birth and, perhaps, invitro. It requires surprisingly little to unbalance a mind as imbalance is continually driven by the stimuli we experience every waking moment of life. A balanced mind is a quiet mind and mine, like most others, is very noisy. If there are no further inquiries or contrary arguments thus far, I would like to proceed to a discuss of the unconscious mind in my next post. There is disappointingly very little popularly understood about the unconscious that is true, precise, or rooted in empirical science. The unconscious mind and how it manifests is made remarkably clear by how it emerges in brain function. That clear perspective of the unconscious mind is suggested by our examination of brain activity amid the unconscious state of brain function. If permitted, we can explore this further in my next post. I welcome your continued interest.
  22. Indeed, the intent of my definition was to be broad because that quality isn't particularly special or unique to humans if one understands its emergence through biological systems. Others may not generally perceive trees as conscious because of their understanding of that quality, which may be incomplete or limited by an expressly human view of that quality. To refine my perspective further, which is an intent of this discussion, an organism must initially have a biological system in place that generates a physiological system from which measures of consciousness can emerge. Our brain is a product of our biological evolution and its physiological functions produce responses to stimuli that we interpret as evidence of mental awareness. Indeed, a mental level of awareness is an attribute of consciousness, but it's not the only measure of that quality's emergence in a organism. Stripped to its most basic level, consciousness is merely the measure of awareness an organism expresses. The question of whether chimpanzees are aware is answered by their responses to stimuli. Whether or not chimpanzees possess humanlike awareness is suggested by their humanlike responses to human equivalent stimuli. The question of how consciousness produces a mind is answerable by the biological components and attributes of consciousness. In humans, the biological system we've evolved to generate a physiological system that produces consciousness is homestasis. Essentially, homestasis is an internal system of checks and balances in the brain that maintain system stability. Maintaining system stability in our brain is what generates and powers our responses. In the simplest of terms, stimuli that creates an imbalance in brain function generates our responses to those stimuli. In the brain, the transference of sensory stimuli requires energy, which relies on and expend brain nutrients. The nutrient imbalances this stimuli causes in the brain initiates those biological processes to restore its functional balance. Our mental awareness and acuity are responses to the continual measures of stimuli our brain experiences. Mind is a product of how brain integrates its awareness responses to the stimuli it experiences.
  23. Your question appears to suggest a perspective of consciousness resigned to a human quality of expression. Indeed, a tree's responses to stimuli may not equate to a human's level of consciousness but it's biological responses to stimuli does at the very least express a tree's biological awareness of that stimuli. Consciousness is only special when it produces a mind--trees do not produce a mind as I have defined. Trees do not produce evidence of a mind because their responses are not known to produce behaviors independent of what we may ascribe to their intrinsic biological nature. For this discussion, consciousness isn't some grand quality but simply the level of awareness we observe through an organism's responses. Generally, our observations of an organism's responses to stimuli may suggest either a biological/physical awareness or some measure of mental awareness. You may not perceive a tree's response as evidence of consciousness because you may only be considering a mental perspective of consciousness. I welcome your further thoughts.
  24. Greetings All, If you’re up for a brief but insightful exchange of perspectives and, perhaps, withering criticism of same, then this is a discussion for you. Regardless of your IQ on the science and subject, I will make every effort to keep our brief discussion accessible to all knowledge levels. Let’s begin with a couple of definitions on which we should all agree: Mind – the environment of cognitive activity within the brain that arises from brain function and is quantified by a brain’s capacity to integrate dichotomous sensory information with memory through a process that produces behaviors independent instinct. Essentially, a mind enables proactive over reactive behaviors. Consciousness – the basic awareness suggested by an organism’s responses to stimuli. Mind and consciousness are not qualities unique to humans but remain worthy of our continued interest, study, and discussion here because of the advantages these qualities uniquely provide humanity. It may be a bit arrogant to suggest that your perspective may be a bit misguided and worthless if isn’t based on an understanding of brain function and its evolution, but don’t let this notion deter your contribution to this topic. I’ve learned much myself by opposing staid and established ideas, as well as the status quo. I’m student in a class that has lasted and will last my entire life. As I march through the twilight of my remaining years, with considerably more behind me than ahead, I still have more to learn and questions new or opposing perspective could answer. It’s my experience that exchanges in forums like this often reveal unique and interesting perspectives that have enhanced my own. I don’t particularly trust everything I read or so-called experts, but I do trust my ability to investigate and discern for myself whatever a truth might be. For many years now, I’ve been investigating the extraordinary nature of mind and consciousness with particular interest in the unconscious mind in brain function. Quantifying the distinction between our conscious and unconscious mind, their remarkable nature, and how they emerge distinctly in brain function are incredibly clear from my perspective. If this is your interest, I welcome your thoughts.
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