"I lean to you, numb as a fossil. Tell me I’m here."
With the rise of neuroscience, we are able to understand human behavior in a new way, one that does not rely on the abstract concepts of folk psychology. A more advanced model of the mind, connectionism, is an artificial intelligence model based on the biological workings of the brain. It focuses on the idea of behavior being an emergent process of interconnected, parallel, highly distributed neural networks comprised of nodes (e.g. neurons) with varying activation levels (e.g. action potentials). Beliefs and other constructs are therefore not necessary to understand the mind. There are no single unchanging structures of the mind that influence behavior (e.g. intentions, motivations, beliefs). Instead, the mind can be understood as being emergent from the parallel distributed processing of the brain. The relationship between activation in a system of nodes represents different cognitive capabilities. Connectionism can accurately incorporate things we see in advancements in neuroscience, such as neuroplasticity (the way the brain is able to regain functioning when a particular area is damaged). A connectionist model is explanatorily strong because it is essentially modeling its emergent phenomena as the biology of the brain.
Consciousness can be defined as a variety of higher level perceptual functioning in living organisms, including awareness of the self and awareness of the world at large. How does this consciousness come about, and what is its true nature? Is it an immaterial substance, which interacts with our physical world? Or is it merely an emergent property of the brain? There is no consensus among philosophers as to which line of thinking is correct.
I was told when I grew up I could be anything I wanted: a fireman, a policeman, a doctor - even President, it seemed. And for the first time in the history of mankind, something new, called an astronaut.
But like so many kids brought up on a steady diet of Westerns, I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice.
And in my heart of hearts I still track the remnants of that dream wherever I go, in my endless ride into the setting sun.
As a child, when I would lie in bed at night and close my eyes to try to sleep, I imagined death as a sea of darkness, lonely and infinite. It made me sad to think about, but also curious about the nature of life and death, of where I came from and where I was going.
The absence of this same kind of curiosity in others confused me. How could everyone so easily accept the lack of an explanation for what the world is and who we are? Why don’t other people burn with a desire to understand?
"The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways, I to die, and you to live. Which of these two is better only God knows."
Socrates, his last words, Plato’s Apology (via panatmansam)
"I take great care of myself by carefully shutting myself away."