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Initial post: Apr 24, 2007 8:18:49 AM PDT
djunod says:
"To support this controversial claim, Damasio draws on his work with brain-injured patients at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, and also cites the case of Phineas Gage, a Vermont railway foreman who lost his ethical faculties after an explosion in 1848 drove a metal rod through his skull. Damasio's exciting investigation challenges the fashionable metaphor of the mind as a software program"

Just because a component of the hardware is damaged and the computer is no longer able to do the function that hardware implemented, does not suddenly prove that "software is a myth".

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 22, 2008 8:57:56 AM PDT
I'm not really sure that's his hypothesis.

As you may recall the Cartesian "res cogitans" postulates a kind of soul or spirit world, which isn't really software. You can measure software, observe it directly, it's physical, just like bioelectrical currents in our bodies. The postulated realm of the "soul" or Thinking Thing can't really be DISproved as such, because that's not what science does. If you do not understand that part about how science works, this is a good time to pick up a book on the subject.

For practical reasons scientists often use Occam's Razor, which is the principle that if there are different explanations (theories/hypothesis) for a phenomenon, we should choose the simplest theory that explains the phenomenon adequately - as opposed to accepting a theory with immense complexity or redundance.

The case against the existence of a "soul" - or the cartesian res cogitans - kinda falls on the premise that everything in a person, even our impression of his "soul", seems to vary with surgical precision with our physical, measurable. Scoop one spoonful at the right place and the "very nature and soul" of the subject seems to change the person into not-him (or her).

The razor would say: well, the physical and quite measurable aspects here are adequate for explaining the phenomenon, and we don't have to invent an UNmeasurable and completely UNknowable "spirit world" that seems to mirror 1:1 the physical. That's just one, unnecessary world too much - and one that's impossible to study in any way scientifically, because the hypothesis simply isn't of such a nature that it makes inquiry possible. "Software" on a human would be the electrical currents, transmitters and so on that are a kind of emergent properties of the configuration of the matter that composes our bodies - but I suspect your "soul" isn't exactly just those currents, whirls and stuff. You probably want something more of a permanent, immortal and religious nature.

BTW, if you whack pretty much anything on your motherboards everything stops working. Much more so in the "Intelligent Design" way of seeing things: lots of things in a computer definitely IS of "irreducible complexity". It makes sense, because it was constructed.

Don't be too surprised if you - on dying - feels the exact same as before you were born.
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Initial post:  Apr 24, 2007
Latest post:  Oct 22, 2008

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Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain
Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain by Antonio R. Damasio (Paperback - July 1, 2006)
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