Scientific-Gnosticism Memetic-Shamanism

The Mind

Published by under on February 20, 2008

In light of the fact that the brain is no more than an extremely complex machine then we must ask “what is the mind?” What is the thing we think of as self?
Most adults can look back on the things they thought and felt as a child and laugh. Many of us are so different from our childhood selves that we are nearly unrecognizable. If we remember the thoughts we had as a child, that person we were would very likely not want to be who we are today. If that is true then the person you are today may not like the person you will be in ten years but that person, just like our child and present selves, will believe in the phrase “I am still me”

With this perspective of change as being acceptable and part of being “me” we are even further from defining what the mind is.

Roughly every seven years, every cell that was in your body has died and new one has replaced it. A person is simply a “clone” of who they were seven years ago and many times the genetic code has been altered slightly in the process. Any person over seven years old has had their mind slowly transplanted into a totally new body that isn’t even genetically exact. Yet if asked, every one of these individuals will believe in the phrase “I am still me”

Some cells in the brain die and we lose access to memories or totally lose the memory forever yet we do not lose our sense of self. So, we are certainly not any single cell nor are we the entire collection of cells.

By these definitions, all people admit that they are a collection of changing ideas, memories and opinions. They are not their body, nor does change and addition destroy what they think of as themselves. The mind is information and nothing more. We can call it a soul but in truth it is a configuration of data that is constantly in flux. Any container that would allow that information to communicate in the same manner as a human brain could contain a human mind.

Additionally there is something known as a hive mind. Just as individual cells and their relationships are all quite simple and perform very little by themselves, so too are the individuals of a hive very simple with little capability by themselves. But when all of these individual cells, bees or ants are considered together, they create a mind. In this way, hives have been seen to complete problem solving tasks that no individual could on its own. In this way we can see that even the container of a human mind could be extremely and fundamentally different from the usual concept of where the “soul” or mind usually resides.

Without the limiting beliefs of what can contain a mind we are better able to understand what a mind is: a specific configuration of data. If two people know all the same things then they are made up of the same data, but they are not necessarily the same. They way in which each person links the data they contain – their beliefs – is a closer definition of a person. While beliefs are themselves are information it would be confusing to lump them with basic facts. Beliefs are meta data: information about information. How a person will act in a given situation is based on how information is linked. Everyone knows that theft is against the law but two individuals with all the same information in the same situation may behave in a different way based on beliefs. Beliefs are basically a slider between truth and falsehood. Let’s say that zero is false and one-hundred is true. In this same way we label things good or bad. Personal experience or social proof is the method by which we typically maintain this rating. While the following example is an over-simplification it can demonstrate the point somewhat.

Let us assume there are two people with exactly the same basic facts are faced with the decision of robbing from a rich man to give to the poor but they know nothing of the rich man. This decision will likely come down to a question of if rich people are believed to be deserving and basically good or if rich people are undeserving and basically bad. Facts are either true or false but beliefs are required to make judgements or guesses. While there are more factors to consider, for this simple example lets assume that each of these individuals allows a twenty percent level of error to make a decision. One has the good/bad belief about rich people set to eighty percent and the other set to twenty percent. One steals and the other does not.

It is more the meta data that makes personality than the data it is connected to. The mind and soul are a configuration of data and meta data links. However, all this data, this “blueprint”, is useless without something using it and changing it. It is the combination of this blueprint and the activity of using and changing it we think of as life.

DNA is not life but a cell using the information is alive. In this same way a virus is not alive until it infects a cell and causes it to run its blueprint.

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