Sunday, October 24, 2010

Considering Intellectual Integrity: A Domain as Real as Biology?

Part two in an experimental series with PJ who writes about mind at: 

We're not just biological, we're intellectual.  In fact, I wonder if we're not  more intellectual than biological.  Maybe, we could say that when ever any species  predominately experiences their living through intellect rather than biology, that species,  potentially speaking, is human in its being.

What is it to be human then?  Is our exploration leading us to assert simply, that Human Being is the one who's connection to its environment is primarily intellectual rather than biological?

I think I stalled in discussing Saul's ideas, because as I set out to actually write about them, I began to realize just how much we lack an ability to see this intellectual domain that we are. We somehow can't yet give it the force of reality we attribute to biology- or physicality:  Physics is a hard science; Psychology is a soft one.  And, what's become so strange to me, is how  we'll go all ga ga over the weirdness of quantum domains, but when it comes to the existence of an Intellectual domain, the best we muster, is to say something like "wow"- our brains are like really cool computers...

But intellectual life is not computing life.  It's something a whole lot more-  both in ability and kind isn't it?

Another question:  which is more real, Brain or Mind?

I was reading some Alfred North Whitehead a couple of evenings ago before going to sleep.  The problem however came when I read this thought and the ensuing excitement revived me for another hour.  His thought was timely and pertains to our questions.  Let me show you:

Whitehead talked about physical reality in terms of its primary and secondary attributes.  So,  for instance, take the color "teal".  Teal's primary existence is some kind of energy wave with a particular frequency (imagine stretching out a long cooked spaghetti noodle on a table, and with your finger make it into a series of "s" shapes from left to right; this is a model of a thing's primary existence as an energy wave).  As such, there's nothing about it to suggest "greenish blue".  The greenish-blue occurs as a secondary attribute.  However--and this is what aroused me-- that secondary attribute doesn't exist unless there is some kind of receiver that can interpret that wave into our color teal!  Objective reality, the way we typically construe it as something that exists regardless of human observation, is in reality, a bland colorless tangle of spaghetti noodle-like waves that doesn't take on color unless there's an "interpretive" interaction.  (So now I'm wondering which is indeed primary in the color teal- its underlying wave? or a meaningful interaction?  But that's another post.)

"Reality as Interpretive Interaction".  This is the first time that I've uttered this phrase, so it's still a bit over my head- but I'm liking it;  I think my new phrase points to the idea that brains do more than compute in a physical environment,  which in reality, is something that exists through a process of interpretive interaction, rather than the Standard Objective Model we've been employing for the last few centuries.

Here's an interesting twist I'll use to tie things up here:  I have no idea what it's like to see the color teal from a purely biological perspective.  My interaction with the environment is intellectual- not biological.  This also means, that I don't know how my brain experiences the wave length of teal, but I do know how my Mind does....   I'm beginning to see why and how PJ is all ga ga about Mind. 


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