An Alchemy Of Mind The Marvel And Mystery Of The Brain Pdf

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A 47 year old man named Carl died of cancer, and at the moment he was pronounced dead, a series of carefully-orchestrated procedures was performed on his body. A team standing by began cardiopulmonary support to keep air moving into his lungs and blood through his veins. They lowered his body temperature with icepacks and transported him to a Cryonics facility several hundred miles away.

Diane Ackerman born October 7, is an American poet, essayist, and naturalist known for her wide-ranging curiosity and poetic explorations of the natural world. Among the members of her dissertation committee was Carl Sagan , an astronomer and the creator of the Cosmos television series. A collection of her manuscripts, writings and papers the Diane Ackerman Papers, ——Collection No.

By Diane Ackerman. A brilliant distillation of the mysterious intersection of brain and mind that borrows from psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, metaphysics, and the physical world, all delivered in miraculously readable prose. Agile, involving, and uniquely far-ranging. As always, Ackerman is positively scintillating, thanks to the intensity of her observations, the imaginativeness of her interpretations of both natural phenomena and science, the splendor of her distinctive prose, and her flair for making her discoveries personal, relevant, and resonant.

An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain

A 47 year old man named Carl died of cancer, and at the moment he was pronounced dead, a series of carefully-orchestrated procedures was performed on his body. A team standing by began cardiopulmonary support to keep air moving into his lungs and blood through his veins.

They lowered his body temperature with icepacks and transported him to a Cryonics facility several hundred miles away. There he was permanently frozen in a container of liquid nitrogen at a temperature of degrees Celsius. Carl went the cheaper route. He paid for this procedure with his life insurance money in hopes that he could be reanimated in the future when a cure for his type of cancer could be discovered. Science would also have to solve other technical problems before successfully reanimating him.

For one, they would have to develop cloning technology to the point that they could grow Carl a new and improved body for his head. Carl placed hope in the idea that his cells could be injected with microscopic robots that would repair the damage, but he was more skeptical about science's ability to grow him a new body. So, he had his whole body frozen.

Worldwide, there are currently about bodies in cryonic storage and another three thousand living people signed up for the program. Cryonics advocates like Carl make several philosophical assumptions about the human mind. First, they assume that they will be the same people when their bodies are reanimated perhaps several hundred years from now, and that their identities will remain intact through these bizarre activities.

They also assume that, once dead, their minds will not be permanently swept into the afterlife, never to be reunited with their bodies. Most importantly, they assume that their consciousness is embedded in physical brain activity, rather than in spirit substance. Carl's unique personal identity, his memories and behavioral characteristics, are presumably stored in the structure of his brain.

These are some of the central issues in the philosophy of mind, which we will explore in this chapter. An obvious starting point for our inquiry is to ask, "What is a mind?

At the moment, we are less interested in the precise structure of the human brain or unconscious brain processes that, for example, allow me to walk across the room without thinking about it. Australian philosopher David Chalmers b. The easy problems are those that are explained in psychology and other sciences, and here is a short list:.

For example, the difference between being awake and asleep can be studied by comparing brain scans of people in both states. The hard problem of consciousness, though, is explaining how it is that we have conscious mental experiences to begin with.

We experience colors like blue when we look at the sky, experience musical sounds coming from instruments, experience the fragrance of a rose. There is a light of consciousness that turns on within our minds when we have these experiences, and philosophers sometimes call these instances of conscious experience qualia.

The bulk of this chapter focuses on the hard process of consciousness, and in this section we will look at our sources of knowledge about consciousness and its main features. There are three sources of knowledge about the conscious human mind. The first is introspection , which involves you concentrating on your own thought processes, and discovering how they operate. It is as though you have an eye in your mind that gives you direct access to your mental landscape, just as your real eyes give you direct access to the world of vision.

Through introspection, for example, you might explore the nature of your beliefs and feelings, or why you choose one course of action over another.

Philosophers and psychologists alike are suspicious about what people claim to know about their minds through introspection. There is no guidebook for you to follow when conducting an introspective investigation of your mind, and I am forced to take you at your word for what you report, since I cannot enter into your mind to confirm it.

A second source of knowledge about the mind is our behavior: how we act tells us much about what we are thinking or feeling. If you cry, that tells us that you are experiencing sadness.

If you have a gleaming smile, that tells us that you are happy. What we infer from your behavior might not always be accurate: you might cry because you are happy, or smile to hide your sadness. Nevertheless, the benefit of looking at behavior is that we do not have to take your word for what we see: your conduct is open to public inspection. Introspection and behavior are the two foundational sources of knowledge about the mind, and since the beginning of human existence these were in fact the only tools available for this.

But within the last several decades technology has given us a third tool, namely, physiological monitoring. We are all familiar with polygraph machines used in law enforcement for lie detection, and these have been around since the s. By measuring blood pressure fluctuations, these machines reveal whether a subject is nervous and, presumably, lying. A more recent alternative to this uses an ordinary video camera and specialized software to detect blood flow under the skin that is otherwise invisible to the naked eye.

By monitoring changes of facial blood flow, it can reveal subtle changes in emotion and, again, presumably detect lying. Other types of physiological monitoring target the brain specifically. Electrodes placed on the scalp can show differing types of brain waves, which in turn can help physicians detect certain types of cognitive disorders.

Electrodes placed into the brain itself can show processes in specific regions of the brain. For example, in an experiment done on a monkey, signals from neural electrodes revealed were the monkey would move its limbs. Further, medical imaging devices such as CAT, MRI and fMRI scans make three-dimensional maps of the brain and can show the regions of brain activity for various cognitive processes, such as listening to music or doing a math problem. In one experiment, a person watched a film clip, and a brain imaging device played back a fuzzy but recognizable version of what that person was seeing.

Until that time, though, we are stuck with introspection and behavior as our main sources of knowledge about the conscious human mind. When philosophers explore the nature of human consciousness, there are three specific features that they commonly ascribe to conscious experiences, namely, that they are private, non-localizable, and intentional.

Not all philosophers agree with this list, but they are invariably the starting point for debates about how consciousness arises. The first of these is that my conscious experiences are private in that you can never experience them in the direct and immediate way that I can.

You may be able to know very generally what is going on in my mind, particularly if I volunteer that information. But that is not the same thing as you directly experiencing it yourself.

The best example is the experience of pain. Suppose that I have a severe headache that on a scale of reaches a 9. While you might sympathize with what I am going through, and even remember times when you had bad headaches, you cannot feel the pain that I am experiencing. Unless I tell you how bad it is or I behave oddly, there is no way that you could know that it is a 9.

The privateness of pain has created a problem in the health care industry. When people go to their doctors complaining of chronic pain, physician's frequently assume that their patients are addicted to pain killers and just fabricating their agony. While there are some behavioral signs to help distinguish genuine from fake cases of pain, the physician cannot enter into the patient's mind to see for sure.

Out of sheer frustration the physician may just write a pain killer prescription to get rid of the patient. Second, conscious experiences are non-localizable , that is, they cannot be located in space. Suppose that a scientist enlarged your brain to the size of a mountain and I walked around inside of it to inspect its construction. Consciousness, it seems, is not the kind of thing that is localizable in three-dimensional space.

Third, conscious experiences are intentional in the sense that they are "about" something. Minds have the ability to direct themselves towards things. If I have a belief, it is not an empty thought: it is a belief about something, like my belief that it will rain.

Hopes, fears, desires, thoughts, speculations, all have a specific focus. The object of our thoughts does not have to actually exist, such as when I hope for world peace or a cure for cancer. Austrian philosopher Franz Brentano argued that intentionality is the true distinguishing feature of the mind: all mental experiences display intentionality, and only mental experiences display intentionality.

Some philosophers have found exceptions to Brentano's extreme position. If I have a throbbing headache, that experience does not seem to be "about" or "directed at" anything. It is just there in all its misery. In spite of problems like this, though, intentionality remains an important notion in investigating the nature of mind.

Suppose that my friend Joe walks up to me and we start chatting as we usually do. I then look at Joe and wonder: is this guy really conscious? So I ask him,. You look awake and you are talking intelligently, but how do I know that you are really consciously aware?

I am aware of my surroundings and I am aware of my own inner self. I cannot directly inspect your mind to see if what you are saying is true. My conversation with Joe reflects what is called the problem of other minds. For all I know, I am the only person alive who is actually conscious. Joe might claim that he is too, but there is an impenetrable barrier between our two minds and I am incapable of directly confirming his claim. The problem goes further than questions we may have about the minds of other human beings.

Suppose Fido the dog walks up to me and we make eye contact. Fido seems to be conscious, just like Joe, although perhaps not quite as intelligent as Joe.

But is Fido actually aware of his surroundings or even aware of himself as a distinct individual with a history and a future? I just cannot go back there! Whether human, animal or robot, we cannot enter the minds of other beings and see for sure whether the light of consciousness is turned on inside them. Philosophers have come to the rescue with arguments devised to show the existence of other minds.

The most famous of these is the argument from analogy and it goes like this. Joe looks and behaves a lot like me. His physiology is virtually identical to mine.

He speaks English like I do, works at a job like I do, and has hobbies like I do. Since I know that I am conscious, and Joe is similar to me, then it makes sense to say that he is conscious too. Joe has physical and behavioral features that are similar to mine. Therefore, when Joe stubs his toe, he consciously experiences pain.

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Does the mind reflect or dictate what the body sees and feels? What is the language of emotion? Is memory a function of our imaginations? Are we all just out of our minds? In this ambitious and enlightening work, Diane Ackerman combines an artist's eye with a scientist's erudition to illuminate the magic and mysteries of the human brain. In addition to explaining memory, thought, emotion, dreams, and language acquisition, Ackerman reports on the latest discoveries in neuroscience and addresses such controversial subjects as the effects of trauma, nature versus nurture, and male versus female brains. In prose that is not simply accessible but also beautiful and electric, Ackerman distills the hard, objective truths of science in order to yield vivid, anecdotal explanations about a range of existential questions regarding consciousness and the nature of identity.

An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain

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AN ALCHEMY OF MIND

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Diane Ackerman discusses the science of the brain as only she can. In addition to explaining memory, thought, emotion, dreams, and language acquisition, she reports on the latest discoveries in neuroscience and addresses controversial subjects likeMoreDiane Ackerman discusses the science of the brain as only she can. In addition to explaining memory, thought, emotion, dreams, and language acquisition, she reports on the latest discoveries in neuroscience and addresses controversial subjects like the effects of trauma and male versus female brains. Ackerman distills the hard, objective truths of science in order to yield vivid, heavily anecdotal explanations about a range of existential questions regarding consciousness, human thought, memory, and the nature of identify. Find a wide variety of needlework books at Interweave that are full of information on embroidery, traditional knitting, needlework, crochet, and more. The founder of the Mormon church, Joseph Smith, wed as many as 40 wives, including of viewers in December Mormon history time periods broken down by section.

Van tot het sy Engels gegee by die Universiteit van Pittsburgh , Philadelphia. Louis, Missouri. Ackerman se fassinasie met die natuur en wetenskap word in baie van haar werk op die spits gedryf. Ackerman het ook bygedra tot Beyond the Map , wat vroulike eksplorasie vier, en gepubliseerde gedigte wat die positiewe en negatiewe aspekte van die menslike bestaan versoen in I Praise My Destroyer Die gedigte in Origami Bridges spruit voort uit haar tyd in psigoterapie.

AN ALCHEMY OF MIND

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4 Comments

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