Thoughts of a Mad Man

"I have stood here before inside the pouring rain,
With the world turning circles running round my brain,
I guess I'm always hoping that you'll end this reign,
But its my destiny to be the king of pain"

Location: Cairo, Egypt

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Man The Wise

We call ourselves Homo Sapiens -man the wise- because our mental capacities are so important to us. for thousands of years, we have tried to understand how we think; that is how a mere handful of stuff can preceive, understand, predict, and manipulate a world far larger and more complicated that itself.

"Aristotle (384-322 B.C) was first to fomulate a precise set of laws governing the rational part of the mind. He developed an informal system of syllogisms for proper reasoning, which in principle allowed one to generate conclusions mechanically, given initial premises. Much later Ramon Lull (d.1315) had the idea that useful reasoning could actually be carried out by a mechanical artifact Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) propesed that reasoning was like numerical computation, that we add and subtract in our silent thoughts.

Now that we have the idea of a set of rules that can describe the formal, rational part of the mind, the next step is to consider the mind as a physical system. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) gave the first clear discussion of the distinction between mind and matter and of the problems that arise. One problem with a purely physical conception of the mind is that it seems
to leave little room for free will: if the mind is governed entirely by physical laws, then it has no more free will that a rock deciding to fall toward the center of the earth. Although a strong advocate of the power of reasoning, Descartes was also a proponent of dualism. He held that there is a part of the human mind (or soul or spirit) that is outside the nature,
exempt from physical laws. Animals, on the other hand did not possess this dual quality; they could be treated as machines. An alternative to dualism is materialism, which holds that the brain's operation according to the laws of physics constitutes the mind. Free will is simply the way that the preception of available choices appears to the choice process."



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