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biophile's picture

The emerging mind

I'm familiar with the concept of a system without a director, but it seems strange to think of the brain without a center of activity (or, rather, to think of it as not being the center of activity for the body). As someone posted earlier, where does this leave the I function? It makes sense to me that certain parts of the nervous system coordinate to perform certain functions without the guidance of a conductor, as in the swimmeret example. I can see how this would work in many contexts, but what about higher brain functions? It seems as if there would be a driving force behind consciousness instead of the mere coordination of different functions. Again, it makes sense that unconscious workings would involve separate functions working together... It just seems bizarre to apply that model to the I-function. We don't usually experience ourselves as being split into many different processes coordinating to achieve a certain end. Most people experience themselves as whole and cohesive, even though some parts of themselves remain a mystery. This whole ramble is probably off the mark, but I've been wondering how our sense of selves can be accounted for in this model of neural systems. It's especially mind-boggling now that we're mentioning things that have been talked about in my emergence class... On some intuitive level the connection between emergence and neurobiology are is there, but it's so hard to articulate (especially when human thought is thrown into the mix).

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