If Brains are Computers, Who Designs the Software? - with Daniel Dennett

Hard work, but worthwhile for those amongst you who like to think about such things.
Post Comment

Comments (18)

Cognitive science does not see the brain as a sort of computer. Whoever, says so, it’s his personal views. Not even an original approach.

When TV was new some said what we see is projected onto the visual cortex like onto a TV screen. Then, who is watching?

When clockwork was new some said the brain works with tiny cogwheels. Then, who is the machinist?

When someone says the brain is a machine, whether steam-engine or super-computer,
he is also saying there is a ghost in it.
Not necessarily...The "ghost in the machine" is a philosophical construct. It is called the "ghost" because it may, (or may not), exist, within the human/animal biology. Some call it a "soul" but there is no proof that that exists, either...
It is not likely that there is a "mechanist" either, just the blind forces of Evolution....some species survive, and some don't; hence Natural Selection, and Survival of the Fittest (the term "fittest" used in this capacity, means individuals within a species, that are most able to reproduce)...
@gregg I suggest you are quite wrong in rejecting the statement that cognitive science views the brain as a sort of computer. You may have preconceived ideas of what a computer is and how it operates, but neither of these is relevant to the idea of brain as computer.
As far as I know there are two basic approaches to brain and mind.

1. The brain is a material structure, product of evolution, and the mind is its emergent property. Just like discrete spectrum is of a H atom. Nobody could imagine this spectrum by perfect knowledge of protons and electrons, that, of course, build up the H atom. This approach was convincingly explained by Gilbert Ryle, in The Concept of Mind.

2. The brain is a machine, or a musical instrument, and the mind / soul / holy spirit / or simply a ghost, operates on it. This was put forth, e.g. by Hofstadter & Dennett in The Mind’s I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self & Soul, and by Popper & Eccles in The Self and Its Brain. In the latter Popper himself, who was no less a rockstar than Dennett is today, declared: “I believe in the ghost in the machine.”

Btw, downward causation is consistent with both.
In fact I found no 'bright light' moments at all in the Dennett talk but the thinking was interesting. The Brain protein colony and termite colony contrasts are useful enough...
I prefer to watch people having accidents on Youtube, to be honest
Stephen Hawking quote:

The brain as a computer...

@bumd yes, I quite believe you, and probably youtubes of kittens playing in the snow. However I am not here to cater to your predeliction for the trivial. Why you need to assure me of your honesty I cannot imagine.
Stephen Hawking also believed in quantum gravity. Yet, other physicists think that the theory of relativity is better founded. Among other reasons, because that is deterministic like all else in physics. In this view quantum physics will some day be improved to a deterministic discipline, not relativity to be consistent with quantization. As to quotes, Einstein said God doesn't play dice.
Quantum Physics will never be a deterministic discipline, since it is based on probabilities.
god doesn't play dice, because there is no god. Hence no dice is played...
In the universe, there are fractal forms, and chaos. On the sub atomic level, there are only probabilities. (A type of 'dice' if you like, but a god is not required to 'roll' them)...
Extra terrestrials are god's and they may play dice. God's being creators of superior technology and probably us.
I still trust in the universe of Pierre-Simon de Laplace, Ernst Mach, Albert Einstein, and some others. Everybody has the right to trust in a probabilistic theory, in extraterrestrials, or anything else.
Speaking of god

Did god, make the world 6000 odd years ago, or at the beginning of time?, (about 13.8 billion years ago?) The two things are mutually contradictory.

Back in the days, where one only had to convince ignorant goat herders, of such things, these erstwhile fellows (largely illiterate), would have been very impressed, (and convinced) by such an impressive time scale of 6000 odd years! Today, this idea seems patently ridiculous. So the date got "moved back" 13 (or so), odd billion years, BUT this is a direct contradiction of the Bible!

The whole thing has the unfortunate feeling of 'grasping at straws' about it, and makes the thinking person immediately suspicious! Let's do away with this nonsense, and discover things through logic, the scientific method, and other (likewise) forms of progress...which have thus far, been the only forms of progress that have dragged us out of the caves, (which as pitiful troglodytes), we used to inhabit...
However the thread topic is not universe or multiverse or extraterrestrial life, it is the brain and how the clearly non-evolutionary 'software' of the brain has been achieved. How have Einsteins and Newtons and Turings appeared with their cranial software. Life has evolved in billions of years but the power of the brain at a huge exponential rate in just a few thousand. What's happening? Laws of quadratic reciprocity and of thermodynamics aren't knowledge you are born with and as clever as the DNA is there is a whole outer shell that we absorb as our brain software - so what is that outer shell? This where the intelligent design stuff comes in, and it's got nothing to do with gods.

Religion as a byproduct of Evolution, (and other scientific explanations)

Btw, is on topic, as it concerns the Evolution of the human brain...
Post Comment - Let others know what you think about this Blog.
Meet the Author of this Blog
FargoFanonline today!


sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Retired but teaching and studying every day, travelling whenever I can and at home wherever I happen to be. From a small family but wishing I were part of a larger one. My students are scattered all over the world, as is my family. Language is a part [read more]