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 Mind of a Rock

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Aaron
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PostSubject: Mind of a Rock   Wed Nov 21, 2007 12:16 pm

I spotted this and thought I'd share. It's a pretty good article.

Quote :
By JIM HOLT
New York Times

Most of us have no doubt that our fellow humans are conscious. We are also pretty sure that many animals have consciousness. Some, like the great ape species, even seem to possess self-consciousness, like us. Others, like dogs and cats and pigs, may lack a sense of self, but they certainly appear to experience inner states of pain and pleasure. About smaller creatures, like mosquitoes, we are not so sure; certainly we have few compunctions about killing them. As for plants, they obviously do not have minds, except in fairy tales. Nor do nonliving things like tables and rocks.

All that is common sense. But common sense has not always proved to be such a good guide in understanding the world. And the part of our world that is most recalcitrant to our understanding at the moment is consciousness itself. How could the electrochemical processes in the lump of gray matter that is our brain give rise to — or, even more mysteriously, be — the dazzling technicolor play of consciousness, with its transports of joy, its stabs of anguish and its stretches of mild contentment alternating with boredom? This has been called “the most important problem in the biological sciences” and even “the last frontier of science.” It engrosses the intellectual energies of a worldwide community of brain scientists, psychologists, philosophers, physicists, computer scientists and even, from time to time, the Dalai Lama.

So vexing has the problem of consciousness proved that some of these thinkers have been driven to a hypothesis that sounds desperate, if not downright crazy. Perhaps, they say, mind is not limited to the brains of some animals. Perhaps it is ubiquitous, present in every bit of matter, all the way up to galaxies, all the way down to electrons and neutrinos, not excluding medium-size things like a glass of water or a potted plant. Moreover, it did not suddenly arise when some physical particles on a certain planet chanced to come into the right configuration; rather, there has been consciousness in the cosmos from the very beginning of time...

You can read the rest here...
link

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Paul Anthony

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PostSubject: Re: Mind of a Rock   Thu Nov 22, 2007 2:12 am

It's nice to see others taking that view. We humans have been so convinced that we are something unique in the universe (God's children?) that we were unwilling to accept the possibility that the universe is intelligent, and that we have finally evolved to the point that we can comprehend a little of the knowledge that has always existed.

Knowledge has always existed, even though it's all new to us. We don't invent things, we discover them! In my book, I called it "Universal Intelligence". Ervin Laszlo called it the Akashic Field. The idea is finally becoming popular! I wonder if it would have done so sooner, were it not for Religion.
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PostSubject: Re: Mind of a Rock   Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:30 am

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we were unwilling to accept the possibility that the universe is intelligent

Isn't Andromeda on a break neck collision with our Milky Way? You call that intelligent? Laughing
Seriously, I believe there is intelligence in the universe, perhaps even here on earth. But I don't get the concept of the universe being intelligent.
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PostSubject: Re: Mind of a Rock   Fri Nov 23, 2007 9:35 am

Helium wrote:
Seriously, I believe there is intelligence in the universe, perhaps even here on earth. But I don't get the concept of the universe being intelligent.

Well. I don't know about Paul but, I'm not talking about a cognitive intelligence at the universal level. It's more like a physical intelligence that manifests itself as "the laws of nature". The laws of nature are without a doubt a type of intelligence IMHO. The only question is how and where did this intelligence come about. Was it the result of a transcendent designer? Did it come about on it's own by pure chance? Perhaps it's simply part of an even larger and more transcendent intelligence? Or maybe it's a combination of all three? I personally lean toward option three myself but try to remain open to all of these possibilities.

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Helium



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PostSubject: Re: Mind of a Rock   Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:04 pm

Ah, I see.
I could see how you could create a metaphor as the universe being intelligent.

My current metaphor, though, is still locked in the "watch" mode.

That is if you find a "watch", you can't say the "watch" is intelligent. It's the watchmaker that's intelligent.

The watch certainly would lead to the conjecture of an intelligent designer.

And, yes, the design of the universe does also lead to the conjecture of a designer (i.e. God), especially among us deists.

But I don't think the universe is intelligent anymore than a watch is intelligent.

But I think that's because I still prefer the old fashioned watchmaker version of deism.

The big knock against the watchmaker version of deism, as you know, is that some people like to suggest that if God make the universe and is not here, then he somehow "abandoned" it.

But that's where faith comes in. I have faith that if the kind of God I imagine is not around, then he's probably gotta pretty decent reason.

So in my metaphor the universe is not intelligent for the same reason a watch is not intelligent. But that's just my metaphor.
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PostSubject: Re: Mind of a Rock   Fri Nov 23, 2007 3:26 pm

I view the universe as a complex, dynamic, self sustaining system rather than a relatively simple mechanism like a watch (or even a computer). That's the difference I guess.

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PostSubject: Re: Mind of a Rock   Sat Nov 24, 2007 4:20 pm

Since I consider the universe to be a product of, and a part of God, I also find it difficult to separate intelligence from the universe.

From whence comes inspiration? Consciousness? Human intelligence? In my view, the universe (God) is the repository of all knowledge. We are merely borrowers from the vast library of information. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Mind of a Rock   Sat Nov 24, 2007 6:13 pm

Quote :
So in my metaphor the universe is not intelligent for the same reason a watch is not intelligent. But that's just my metaphor.

I tend to think of "the Universe" in scientific terms as a machine of sorts. Like a watch, the universal machine is cleverly designed, but not itself intelligent.

"Intelligence" implies knowing, thinking, and reasoning---in short, awareness or consciousness. But the term is also used in reference to Information of the kind that spies seek-out.

In my personal worldview, the universe is the product of Divine Intelligence, but not independently conscious or aware. However, I have recently concluded that the material universe (at the quantum level) is ultimately made of immaterial in-form-ation (i.e. building blocks such as: ideas, concepts, designs, intentions, probabilities, Platonic Forms, etc.)

So, in that sense, a rock may not be Intelligent, but it is Intelligence.
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PostSubject: Re: Mind of a Rock   Sat Nov 24, 2007 8:24 pm

Good points Paul and Gnomon. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Mind of a Rock   Sun Nov 25, 2007 6:51 pm

Aaron wrote:


The laws of nature are without a doubt a type of intelligence IMHO.

During my sojourn in the Agnostic world, I interpreted the "Laws" of Nature, not as divine mandates, but as minor constants and regularities within the dominant randomness of reality. Any apparent meaningful forms and patterns were merely snapshots of chance-driven, cosmic-chaos.

Later, I began to see that Order is what Intelligence does. Left to its own devices, the material universe would be torn-apart by Entropy. But some cosmic intelligence must have placed limits and boundaries on the mindless meanderings of evolution. I am still agnostic regarding the identity of that "Higher Intelligence", but I can no longer deny the evidence of an ordering (in-forming) mind behind the enduring patterns of nature.
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PostSubject: Re: Mind of a Rock   Tue Nov 27, 2007 1:33 pm

Gnomon wrote:
Later, I began to see that Order is what Intelligence does. Left to its own devices, the material universe would be torn-apart by Entropy.

Either that or the material universe never would have existed in the first place.

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