Aug 18, 1996 01:22 PM
by Paul M.M. Kieniewicz
Thankyou Max, Richard and Alan for your replies to my questions re.
>If I correctly read between the lines of your comments, Paul, I detected a
>certain irritation with the way theosophical words often roll down the
>assembly line, resulting in a big end-product of uncertain meaning--or no
>meaning at all. If this is the case, I share your sentiment.
Yes - that is the problem. We are dealing with a big problem when speaking
of how the mind and body relate (as also Max and Alan pointed out).
Unfortunately theosophy is poorly equipped to answer it and in my view has
never really grappled with the issues. Instead we have there a mythology,
and we write about "the eternal parent" or "undifferentiated
consciousness.." (I agree Alan, the expression is meaningless), and write
whole volumes that are, in the final analysis, total gibberish. Sure - it's
great mythology - but how about waking up from these "dreams" and "symbols".
The mythology itself may have no meaning except as an intellectal exercise.
(There are also societies of people who study the Klingon language)
Theosophy cannot be said to grapple with the issue of what is consciousness
- the way that Descartes, Kant, Husserl, Heiddeger or even Krishnamurti did.
That's why I suggest that if we want to understand the mind-body connection,
and determine for example whether it's even relevant to be talking about
consciousness as seperate from matter, we need to leave behind the corpus of
19th century Theosophical literature - and avail ourselves of some of the
efforts taking place in our own century.
>The most promising area of research in the field is an aprroach based on
>the theory of neural networks, i.e. multiply-connected neurons (real
>neurons or neural chips). It has been discovered that such networks can
>store huge amounts of information in the form of more or less stable
>patterns of excitation of the entire system. It was hypothesized that
>memories might be such excitations. Neural networks may be trained
>(unlike ordinary computers that are to be programmed) so that can use
>their skills to solve problems.
Yes and no. Although neural nets appear to simulate many "human
characteristics" - because these are program that "learn" - There are still
many examples of problems specific to human consciousness that cannot be
simulated by a neural net or by another kind of computer.
I recommend - to anyone interested in these problems the works of Roger
Penrose "The Emperor's New Mind" and "Shadows of the Mind"
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