Mind and Body

Does “corporeal” include electrical impulses?

  • Alan

I assumed that it did, since the thrust of this question seemed to suggest the possibility of a “supernatural” explanation for consciousness. I reject that, and the most complete rejection of that seemed to be “the mind is corporeal,” but I don’t think anybody would disagree that elecrtical impulses are part of – or at least associated with – cognitive processes.

Wow, you can touch your own thoughts? Can I try that?

I’d say that electrical impulses count as corporeal. Is your computer partially non-corporeal?

If you touched the inner workings of your own brain, I think that would count.

If you have sex with him in a chick’s body, would that make you gay?

Yeah… And?

My consort made a good point about this question. It’s not that how you define “mind” determines your answer; rather, how you answer defines what “mind” means to you at the moment you answer.

The reason I ask this is because I grew up with this notion that mind was something somehow separate from the brain, and that while there was a connection between mind and brain, there wasn’t necessarily a connection between mind and the rest of the body.

It’s like the concept of “2” versus the numeral “2,” in that there’s no pure physical representation of the idea of 2, yet it exists. The numeral 2 is just a symbol, and the association between the numeral and the concept of 2 is arbitrary.

The idea was never really taught to me, but somehow implied.

I’d reject the idea now, if I knew what I was rejecting; instead, it just doesn’t make sense any more.

Consider this: Are nerves really just infrastructure, or do they perform thought processing as well? If the latter is the case, then mind is not just physical, but whole-body physical. E.g. muscle and bone cells aren’t “thinking” necessarily, but the nerves attached to them may be part of that thought-creating system as more than just I/O or data transfer points.

And who’s to say that the cells outside of the nervous system aren’t part of the chemical and electrical computations that comprise thought? And by that, I mean that they are not just support mechanisms, but that e.g. white blood cells fighting off an infection are not doing so merely to protect support systems for the brain, but that they themselves and the support systems are part of the thought processes.

Well, you reject it, but someone else may not. There isn’t a right or wrong answer, or even better or worse answers – at least, not to me.

Oh… I just realized my analogy of “2” is terrible, because 2 does in fact have a pure representation, via the Peano axioms…

“Your majesty, you are a delicate prince, an exceedingly delicate prince; and if, your majesty, you walk in the middle of the day on hot sandy ground, and you tread on rough grit, gravel, and sand, your feet become sore, your body tired, the mind is oppressed, and the body-consciousness suffers. Pray, did you come afoot, or riding?”

“Bhante, I do not go afoot: I came in a chariot.”

“Your majesty, if you came in a chariot, declare to me the chariot. Pray, your majesty, is the pole the chariot?”

“Nay, verily, bhante.” [Note: Nagasena lists the parts of the chariot-axle, wheels, body, yoke reins etc. all of which the king replies ‘nay, verily’

“Your majesty, although I question you very closely, I fail to discover any chariot. Verily now, your majesty, the word chariot is a mere empty sound. What chariot is there here? Your majesty, you speak a falsehood, a lie: there is no chariot. Your majesty, you are the chief king in all the continent of India; of whom are you afraid that you speak a lie? Listen to me, my lords, you five hundred Yonakas, and you eighty thousand monks! Milinda the king here says thus: ‘I came in a chariot;’ and being requested, ‘Your majesty, if you came in a chariot, declare to me the chariot,’ he fails to produce any chariot. Is it possible, pray, for me to assent to what he says?”

" Then Milinda the king spoke to the venerable Nagasena as follows:—

“Bhante Nagasena, I speak no lie: the word ‘chariot’ is but a way of counting, term, appellation, convenient designation, and name for pole, axle, wheels, chariot-body, and banner-staff.”

Thoroughly well, your majesty, do you understand a chariot. In exactly the same way, your majesty, in respect of me, Nagasena is but a way of counting, term, appellation, convenient designation, mere name for the hair of my head, hair of my body . . . brain of the head, form, sensation, perception, the psychic constructions, and consciousness. But in the absolute sense there is no self here to be found. And the priestess Vajira, your majesty, said as follows in the presence of The Blessed One:—

Even as the word of “chariot” means
That members join to frame a whole
So when the Groups appear to view,
We use the phrase, “A living being.”

“It is wonderful, bhante Nagasena! It is marvellous, bhante Nagasena! Brilliant and prompt is the wit of your replies. If The Buddha were alive, he would applaud. Well done, well done, Nagasena! Brilliant and prompt is the wit of your replies.”

Conversation between King Milinda (Bactrian-Greek King Menander) and the monk Nagasena, as part of the Buddhist teachings from the Khuddaka Nikaeya.

On re-reading my post, I don’t see anything that would justify stressing this point. I was explaining why I’d chosen the option I did in the face of a minor semantic dilemma over electricity. I said nothing at all about what other people thought or ought to think.

The question doesn’t necessarily imply that a supernatural nature of mind is a possibility. You can believe that mind is incorporeal without it being supernatural, in that mind can be the – for lack of a better word – embodiment of theoretical concepts.

That’s what I was trying to emphasize.

Well that’s flat out wrong.

Think of the experience you’re having now, reading this. Not the electrical impulses etc. causing you to have that experience, or the physical representation of that experience in your brain, but the actual conscious experience of reading this. Are you of the opinion that that experience is explainable solely through physical processes?

In my case, yes, conscious experiences are explainable solely through physical processes. Holding the opinion that all mental processes can be physical except for the qualia of experience will lead you to the paradox of the Philosophical Zombie.

He just said he was.

Goddammit, I knew it!

What’s paradoxical about that? It’s certainly not presented as a paradox there, nor have I seen it presented as such anywhere else.

I don’t see how that supports physicalism.

Your essay gets an B+ for it’s conclusion, but it’s brevity forces your final score of F-. You might consider changing degrees. Have you thought about majoring in Pimping?