Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stewart Goetz on discarnate minds

From Stewart Goetz.


  1. Very interesting, thanks. I particularly enjoyed the quote from Penfield's book. I also think it was helpful to explain how advances in neuroscience haven't fundamentally changed how we view the mind/body relationship.

  2. Interesting read. Thanks for posting it. It reminded me of something Mr. Hays wrote in his “I’m Glad You Asked-5” post:


    vii) Another argument for materialism is that head trauma results in mental impairment. And this implies the identity between mind and brain, or so goes the argument. The effect of mood- and mind-altering drugs confirms that identity.
    (a) It should go without saying that this isn’t a scientific observation. People have known for millennia that a bump on the head or puff of weed can impair or alter mental function. That isn’t an argument against monism, but opponents of dualism often act as if neuroscience has introduced a new line of evidence which forces us to reexamine old assumptions.
    (b) If you damage a telephone, that will impair or destroy its capacity to send and receive signals. Yet it’s the person at the end of the receiver who initiates the signal. The telephone is just a medium. It’s easy to propose more sophisticated examples. I would say the same thing about the brain. It coordinates body functions and sets up an interface between the mind and the external world, processing sensory input.


  3. Layman,

    Some further evidence of Steve's (b) point is found in stutterers. I work with one, so I asked and did some other research and found it to be the norm: Stutters don't think in a stutter. That is, what they "hear" in their mind is clear language without a stutter; yet when they try to manifest the thought, it manifests with a stutter.

    Neural scans seem to show that the brain activity in someone who stutters is different from a "normal" speaker. Thus, the brain does alter what occurs subjectively as "clear" language, so that the output is a stutter.

    At the very least, this shows that the area of the brain that affects language to cause a person to stutter occurs after the conscious experience of that statement in the mind of the stutterer. However, I think it stronger--I would say it demonstrates that the mind is actually distinct from the brain in some meaningful manner. After all, thus far there has been no evidence that the subjective experience of the "clear" language originates in a different area of the brain than what creates the "stuttering" output. That is, the scans all seem to show (at least from what I've read) that what is subjectively experienced comes about from the same language centers of the mind that work differently in the stutterer than in a "normal" person.

    Again, that seems evidence to me that there is a difference between the mind and body.