The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62458   Message #1011094
Posted By: Wolfgang
02-Sep-03 - 06:45 AM
Thread Name: Thought a Day: The Hammerskold Paradox
Subject: RE: Thought a Day: The Hammerskold Paradox
The brain is a tranmsmitter/receiver, it is not the source of the program. (Little Hawk)

In one respect that is trivially true and in another respect that is completely wrong.

Of course, for instance the sound of the waves is produced outside of the brain and is registered by it. The stars and not the brain are the real source of the night sky percept. That is the trivially true part (though some philosophers would already disagree and state that without anybody listening there is no sound of the waves).

In sharp contrast to the action of a receiver/transmitter, the brain actively processes and alters the information input. In that respect, a better comparison is to a computer program, for instance in a scanner, that tries to make sense of the physical input and uses a stored information bank to alter the input according to 'best guesses'. If I forget to change the language in my scanner from English to German, the same physical input can lead to different best guesses of my program.

Our brain replaces partly missing information from stored patterns, our brain guesses to make sense weak input signals (and sometimes goes spectacularly wrong), our brain uses expectations and prejudices to fit the incoming information into a big picture. The brain as a transmitter (where to, by the way?) is a completely misleading metapher.

And, of course, the brain sometimes even is the source of the program, in dreams, in thinking, in schizophrenia, in some extreme states (e.g. in sleep deprivation) when we cannot differentiate between our thoughts and outside input. Only the most extreme behaviourists would have claimed that there is no brain activity except as a reaction to an input signal.