[Marxism] Materialism and the will. (Was: (no subject))
schaffer at optonline.net
Tue Oct 20 18:07:04 MDT 2009
David Picón Álvarez wrote:
> Nonsense, 'will' is an incoherent idea.
> The mind is a particular organisation of matter in motion. What does it mean
> to speak of a will? The mind follows all the laws of matter in motion
> (physics) and its internal development is entirely characterised and
> described by those laws.
even a hard-bitten reductionist like moi finds this last sentence
incomprehensible. now if you substituted molecular biology and
biochemistry for physics you might be able to salvage the thought, but
biologists don't talk about laws of matter in motion like physicists do,
cuz physics is too dumb and crude for their work. as an aside, biology
students in my introductory physics classes almost uniformly (and
rightly so) find the subject dry and boring, except when i get up and
dance and make a scene.
'bout the best you can say is that nerve impulses propagate around in
concert with laws of matter in motion. i've been working with a student
for the last year on topics in nerve pulse propagation and there is some
beautiful physics and chemistry in there ... check out how the molecule
in the upper right corner of this page functions:
the voltage-gated channels in particular are believed to be responsible
for the ability of neurons to send signals near-losslessly down a
neuron's length, whereas sans these channels, pulses initiated at one
end of a neuron could not travel very far down the "wire". note too we
just skipped over the whole subject of evolution/development of these
structures and function.
after that, you're over the edge and falling into the great darkness
below (physics wise).... neuroscientists work their asses off just
trying to make sense of the pulse patterns they see on the nerves, given
certain stimuli. they can build complex pattern recognition programs to
correlate these patterns with said stimuli. but i never hear anyone
talking about the laws of matter in motion with respect to these
patterns, mainly because -- i suspect -- they are in the pre-Galileo
era, looking for a *description* of motion (function) that a Newton
might try to throw a few apples at. i don't see many apples thrown at
the beautiful blinking lights in the fMRIs ... its mainly about
correlation right now, when i am full of wrath (that's a tip of the hat
to Eli) this chunk of brain lights up like a xmas tree.
so, yes, ideas from physics find their way into low and mid-level
neuroscience (nerve pulse propagation, synapse physics, complex system
dynamics, emergence, bla bla bla)... but there is a great article in the
book The New Physics with a section heading "Why Biology is not Physics"
which i'll quote for you when i get home if you promise to write a book
report on the material (that's a joke) ...
upshot: don't go blaming the brain on us (physicists).
p.s. there's a nice little graphic movie of the voltage-gated channel
process somewhere on the web, but i cant find it right now.
More information about the Marxism