December 2013

* Cartesian Dualists

"Knowledge shrinks as wisdom grows."
(Alfred North Whitehead)


Scientists are concerned with mind, for that involves the conception of evolution. If the mind is not a product of evolution, what actually is it? How does it interact with the brain? The brain is obviously physical, so presumably it is the product of evolution like animal brains, which share many, if not all, structures.

Does the mind evolve as the brain evolves? How do matter and spirit interact at the molecular level, as they would have to; for otherwise how could drugs or brain injuries affect the mind?

Few scientists today are out and out Cartesian Dualists in the sense of believing in a separation between spirit and substance, but the concept is not ludicrous, and the questions I pose above are susceptible to scientific exploration. Quantum mechanics, for example, still holds open the door to deeper cosmic mysteries of mind, as we shall see.

Even those who are not religious may feel that their spirit is somehow immaterial, uniquely human, and in some way 'beyond science'. Few people who've read this far will feel that science has no right to pontificate on consciousness, and yet perhaps equally few would give evolutionists any special rights over a ruck of other disciplines that can claim insight - robotics, artificial intelligence, linguistics, neurology, pharmacology, quantum physics, philosophy, theology, meditation, zen, literature, sociology, psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, ethology, and more.
(Nick Lane, Life Ascending)


Julian Jaynes


"Idolatry is still a socially cohesive force - its original function."

"Every god is a jealous god after the breakdown of the bicameral mind."

"The divine kingdom to be regained is psychological not physical. It is metaphorical not literal. It is "within" not in extenso."

"Civilization is the art of living in towns of such size that everyone does not know everyone else."

"The king dead is a living god."

"The central assertion of this view, I repeat, is that each new stage of words literally created new perceptions and attentions, and such new perceptions and attentions resulted in important cultural changes which are reflected in the archaeological record."

"The bicameral mind with its controlling gods was evolved as a final stage of the evolution of language. And in this development lies the origin of civilization."

"Consciousness comes after language. The implications of such a position are extremely serious."

"There is nothing in consciousness that is not an analog of something that was in behavior first."

"The field of psychology is little more than bad poetry disguised as science."

John Locke

"Parents wonder why the streams are bitter, when they themselves have poisoned the fountain."

"As people are walking all the time, in the same spot, a path appears."

"The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property."

"There cannot be greater rudeness than to interrupt another in the current of his discourse."

"To love our neighbor as ourselves is such a truth for regulating human society, that by that alone one might determine all the cases in social morality."

"There is frequently more to be learned from the unexpected questions of a child than the discourses of men."

"I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts."

"Fortitude is the guard and support of the other virtues."

"The discipline of desire is the background of character."

"The dread of evil is a much more forcible principle of human actions than the prospect of good."

"I have spent more than half a lifetime trying to express the tragic moment."