In continuing the earlier emphasis on areas of the brain corresponding to mental functions I'd like to emphasize a point of the non-a priori nature of thinking such that is based on the physiology of the bring but isn't inherent in it.https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunde ... s-talk.htm
3. The brain does not ‘cause’ consciousness. A working brain is the essential pre-condition for consciousness, but how do we move from possibility to realised possibility?https://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1930/psychological-systems.htm
If we consider a system from the point of view of how a given possibility can be realised, we hypothetically insert ourselves into the system in question, asking what intervention is needed to realise the relevant possibility. ‘Cause’ can be understood in a practical way only by this kind of thought-experiment. To say that something is a cause is to point to how a given possibility could be realised by a hypothetical intervention in a system. To say that consciousness is caused by the brain is to say that an intervention in the nervous system can bring consciousness into being. As John Searle has pointed out, such interventions can be shown only to change consciousness, but not to bring it into being.
From the phylogenetic point of view, Merlin Donald and others before him have shown convincingly that it was development of culture and behaviour, which introduced consciousness into a pre-human hominid species, not the other way around.
The ontogenetic evidence is that under all but the most adverse conditions, human infants with healthy brains will develop language and consciousness. However, no answer has yet been given as to how consciousness could be introduced into living tissue which was not already capable of consciousness. Thus, the ‘cause’ of consciousness has no coherent meaning in the ontogenetic context. Further, if consciousness is a feature of the brain, an organ like any other, “a system-level, biological feature in much the same way that digestion, or growth” (Searle 2004), then the origin of free will remains a mystery.
We have no reason to assume that the human brain underwent an essential biological evolution in the course of human history. We have no reason to assume that the brain of primitive man differed from our brain, was an inferior brain, or had a biological structure different from ours. All biological investigations lead us to assume that biologically speaking the most primitive man we know deserves the full title of man. The biological evolution of man was finished before the beginning of his historical development. And it would be a flagrant mixing up of the concepts of biological evolution and historical development to try to explain the difference between our thinking and the thinking of primitive man by claiming that primitive man stands on another level of biological development. The laws of dreaming are the same everywhere, but the role which the dream fulfills is completely different and we will see that such a difference not only exists between, let us say, the Kaffir and us. The Roman believed in dreams as well, although he would not say in a difficult situation “I will dream about it,” – because he stood on another level of human development and would solve the matter, in the words of Tacitus, “with arms and reason and not like a woman through a dream.” The dream was a sign for him, an omen. The Roman did not begin something when he had had a bad dream about it. In the Roman, the dream had another structural connection with other functions.
To a certain degree this also holds true for one of the most difficult problems – the localization of higher psychological systems. So far they have been localized in two ways. The first viewpoint considered the brain as a homogeneous mass and rejected the idea that the different parts are not equivalent and play different roles in the formation of psychological functions. This viewpoint is manifestly untenable. Therefore, henceforth it was tried to deduce the functions from different brain parts, distinguishing, for example, a practical area, etc. The areas are mutually connected, and what we observe in mental processes is the joint activity of separate areas. This conception is undoubtedly more correct. What we have is a complex collaboration of a number of separate zones. The brain substrate of the mental processes are not isolated parts but complex systems of the whole brain apparatus. But the problem is the following: if this system is given in the very structure of the brain in advance, i.e., if it is fully determined by connections that exist in the brain between its various parts, then we must assume that those connections from which the concept develops are given beforehand in the structure of the brain. But if we assume that it is possible to have more complex systems which are not given in advance, a new perspective on this problem results.
Allow me to clarify this with an admittedly very rough schema. Forms of behavior that earlier were shared by two persons are now combined in the person: the order and its execution. Before they took place in two brains. One brain acted upon the other with, say, a word. When they are combined in one brain we get the following picture: point A in the brain cannot reach point B through a direct combination. It has no natural connection with it. The possible connections between different parts of the brain are established through the peripheral nervous system, from outside.
Proceeding from such ideas, we can understand a number of facts of pathology. These include, first of all, patients with a lesion of the brain systems who are not capable of doing something directly, but can carry it out when they tell themselves to do so. Such a clinically clear picture is observed in Parkinsonian patients. The Parkinsonian patient cannot take a step. But if you tell him to take a step or if you put a piece of paper on the floor, he will take this step. Everybody knows how well Parkinsonian patients walk on stairs and how badly on the level floor. In order to lead the patient to the laboratory, one has to spread out a number of pieces of paper on the floor. The patient wants to walk, but he cannot influence his motor system, this system is disturbed. Why can the Parkinsonian patient walk when pieces of paper are spread out on the floor? Here there are two explanations. One was given by Sapir . the Parkinsonian patient wants to raise his arm when you tell him to do so, but this impulse alone is insufficient. If you link this request with another (visual) impulse he will raise it. Flic supplementary impulse acts together with the main one. We can also imagine another picture. The system that allows him to raise his arm is now disturbed. But he can connect one point of his brain with another one via an external sign.
It seems to me that the second hypothesis about the locomotion of Parkinsonian patients is the correct one. The Parkinsonian patient establishes a connection between different points of his brain through a sign, influencing himself from the periphery. That this is so is confirmed by experiments on the exhaustibility of Parkinsonian patients. If it would be simply a matter of fully exhausting the Parkinsonian patient, then the effect of a supplementary stimulus would increase, or at any rate lie proportional to a rest, a recovery, and play the role of an external stimulus. (One of the Russian authors who first described Parkinsonian patients pointed out that most important for the patient are loud stimuli (a drum, music), but further investigations demonstrated that this is incorrect. I do not want to say that in Parkinsonian patients things proceed exactly like this. It suffices to conclude that it is in principle possible. That such a system is actually possible we can constantly observe in processes of dissolution.
Each of the systems I mentioned goes through three stages. First, an inter- psychological stage – I order, you execute. Then an extra-psychological stage – I begin to speak to myself. Then an intra-psychological stage – two points of the brain which are excited from outside have the tendency to work in a unified system and turn into an intracortical point.
Allow me to dwell briefly on the further destinies of these systems. I would like to point out that from the viewpoint of differential psychology I do not differ from you and you do not differ from me because I have somewhat better concentration than you. The essential and practically important characterological difference in the social life of people resides in the structures, relations and connections that exist in us between different points. What I want to say is that most important is not memory or attention per se, but the extent to which the person utilizes this memory, the role it fulfills. We have seen that for the Kaffir the dream may fulfill a central role. For us the dream is a parasite in psychological life which plays no essential role whatsoever. The same is true for thinking. How many idling fruitless minds, how many minds who think but are not at all involved in action! We all remember a situation in which we knew how to act, but acted differently.
I want to point out that here we have three extremely important planes. The first plane is the social plane and the plane of social class psychology. We wish to compare the worker and the bourgeois. The point is not, as was thought by Sombart , that for the bourgeois the main thing is greediness, that a biological selection of greedy people takes place for whom miserliness and accumulation are most important. I assume that many workers are more stingy than a bourgeois. Essential is not that the social role can be deduced from the character, but that the social role creates a number of characterological connections. The social and social class type of the person are formed from the systems that are brought into the person from the outside. They are systems of social relationships between people, transferred into the personality. Professional graphic investigations of labor processes are based on this. Each profession requires a certain system of these connections. For the tram-driver, for example, it is indeed not so important to be more attentive than the ordinary person, but to utilize this attention correctly. It is important that his attention has a position which it may not have in, say, a writer, etc.
Finally, from a differential and characterological perspective we must make a fundamental distinction between primary characterological connections which yield certain proportions, for example, a schizoid or cycloid constitution, and connections that develop completely differently and which distinguish the honest person from the dishonest, the honest from the deceitful, the dreamer from the business person. These do not reside in the fact that I am less tidy than you, or more deceitful than you, but in the development of a system of relations between the different functions that develop in ontogenesis. Lewin correctly says that the formation of psychological systems coincides with the development of personality. In the highest eases of ethically very perfect human personalities with a very beautiful spiritual life we are dealing with the development of a system in which everything is connected to a single goal. In Spinoza you will find a theory (I am changing it somewhat) which says that the soul can achieve that all manifestations, all conditions relate to a single goal. A system with a single center may develop with a maximal integrity of human behavior. For Spinoza this single idea is the idea of god or nature. Psychologically this is not at all necessary. But a person can indeed not only bring separate functions into a system, but also create a single center for the whole system. Spinoza demonstrated this system in the philosophical plane. There are people whose life is a model of the subordination to a single goal and who proved in practice that this is possible. Psychology has the task of demonstrating that the development of such a unified system is scientifically possible.
Those who consider man primarily as a biological being are unable to account for the great historical development of human beings, because I differ not from primitive man biologically by socially. And this also emphasizes how in the division of roles, labour and such, that one's individual personality is in large part acculturation of that aspect of society.
And the mind has certain basic functions or instincts which then develop into conditioned reflexes but which then give way to an intellect, which in man becomes particularly combined with speech, a distinguishing human characteristic.
So for example, a child has reflexes that are innate, that allow it to survive, it's not simply nothing biologically, but these lower forms cannot explain the higher mental functions of man.
One cannot explain man through conditioned reflexes and as much is clear even in anthropoid apes.
Vygotsky's summarizes Kohler's research on chimps in one of his works examining zoology, primitive man and modern man.https://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1930/man/ape-man-1.pdf
He finds that the distinguishing characteristic between conditioned reflexes of an ape and their intellect is marked by the manner in which they learn something (it's genesis).
A conditioned reflex takes time, training between two stimuli such that one decreases their degree of error and develops mastery of the action over some time. Whereas with the intellect, it is an abrupt change where upon seeing the solution, it is clearly remembered and performed as if it were immediately a habitual behaviour.
In many cases, one can see an animal when confronted with a new situation in which its instincts and conditioned reflexes are unable to achieve what it wants.
Due to some difficulty, being a delay or an obstruction, the animal's activity increases greatly, it puts more effort into the habit/reflex to overcome the delay or obstruction or it seeks a roundabout path to it's goal.
Think of a dog that wants a piece of meat and expresses great distress. It tries to reach for it, its barks, it moves around a lot.
Chimps do the same thing, but the smarter ones eventually reach a point where their external excitation is changed into an internal activity where they are presumably trialing possible solutions to the predicament of their situation as they begin to examine their direct environment (ape consciousness is very immediate and concrete). So after initial confusion, excitation and error, the ape seems to reflect on the problem and if they are smart, they may well see the solution and immediately execute it. They then are able to generalize their solution to similar predicaments away from that specific example, there is a continuation of that structural problem independent of the actual objects.
If the chimp simply resorted to repeating what it already knew, they would be unable to solve the predicament. This is analogous to humans who rely on habits but are forced to think when reality breaks the smooth flow of their habits/operations. Suddenly they have to become quite conscious as to why what they usually do doesn't work anymore and solve the problem.
They must achieve the sudden insight, the aha moment in seeing a solution and generally when the intellect is provoked by difficulties in habitual operations/actions, it is able to develop a direct and abrupt neural connection unlike the conditioned reflex due to the greater excitation internally.
A person may very well learn through rote memorization of a task, but they are better able to remember when they are confronted with a problem and are compelled to find the right solution to the task. They remember the solution better than the unconscious associations trained through conditioning.
And this is where the intellect functions, not as a passive reflection but an active seeking of a solution to one's goal.
The child has a basic intellect much like the chimp does, but no one would mistake the chimp for a human no matter how intelligent it may be in it's use of tools or even crude creation of some tools and problem solving.
This is because children being human, are able to have their intellect and language intersect in their development. http://www.unilibre.edu.co/bogota/pdfs/2016/mc16.pdf
The first thing that strikes the experimenter is the incomparably greater freedom of children’s operations, their greater independence from the structure of the concrete, visual situation. Children, with the aid of speech, create greater possibilities than apes can accomplish through action. One important manifestation of this greater flexibility is that the child is able to ignore the direct line between actor and goal. Instead, he engages in a number of preliminary acts, using what we speak of as instrumental, or mediated (indirect) methods. In the process of solving a task the child is able to include stimuli that do not lie within the immediate visual field. Using words (one class of such stimuli) to create a specific plan, the child achieves a much broader range of activity, applying as tools not only those objects that lie near at hand, but searching for and preparing such stimuli as can be useful in the solution of the task, and planning future actions.
Second, the practical operations of a child who can speak become much less impulsive and spontaneous than those of the ape. The ape typically makes a series of uncontrolled attempts to solve the given problem. In contrast, the child who uses speech divides the activity into two consecutive parts. She plans how to solve the problem through speech and then carries out the prepared solution through overt activity. Direct manipulation is replaced by a complex psychological process through which inner motivation and intentions, postponed in time, stimulate their own development and realization. This new kind of psychological structure is absent in apes, even in rudimentary forms.
Unlike the ape, which Koehler tells us is “the slave of its own visual field, children acquire an independence with respect to their concrete surroundings; they cease to act in the immediately given and evident space. Once children learn how to use the planning function of their language effectively, their psychological field changes radically. A view of the future is now an integral part of their approaches to their surroundings.
To summarize what has been said thus far in this section: The specifically human capacity for language enables children to provide for auxiliary tools in the solution of difficult tasks, to overcome impulsive action, to plan a solution to a problem prior to its execution, and to master their own behavior. Signs and words serve children first and foremost as a means of social contact with other people. The cognitive and communicative functions of language then become the basis of a new and superior form of activity in children, distinguishing them from animals.
The child moves from immediacy of their visual field to a semantic field, which governs their actions.
Whilst its the case that apes have only ever been able to learn very simple forms of human language/communication, it is of great biological significance that human children are able to be accultured to human language so readily.
They do not have true concepts as many adults do, but in using language, it becomes part of restructuring their psyche and their relation to the world and guides their activity more and more.
For example, the child learns that many things have names, they tend to associate the names in a manner of conditioned reflex, a handle that is attributed to the object itself.
They speak the same words for the apparently same objects, but they aren't yet cognizant of concepts and tend to have very limited ones due to their limited experiences.
But with a name, the concept can begin to grow and they begin to better grasp the world around them, words become a handle for objects mentally.
All in all, such developments cannot be explained in the conception of a human being as capable of such multifaceted and universal actions as pre-existing in their physiology like an instinct or even developed into conditioned reflexes. Hence the poverty of the evolutionary psychological viewpoint which tries to presuppose very specific brain structures and physiology to underpin all sorts of mental behaviour. Whereas parts of the brain, as already noted, do have general and specific functions, they aren't so specific that one can simply prescribe a specifically observed behaviour as innate. Such a child would likely seem retarded in their development if this were actually the case compared to the normal and relatively expected development of a human child.
But such is the tendency due to an inadequate conception of human nature which can only explain it biologically, considers man as a passive result of nature and doesn't see the interdependence between mans work upon nature in developing himself. Man is in ontologically unity with nature and the nature we witness is one actively shaped by human needs unlike the ape which adapts itself to the environment, we have adapted the environment to our needs and developed even greater and complex needs as a result of such work.
Man has for the most part being evolutionary the same, but the evolution of man culturally has been most radical in recent centuries.
Man is born with biological instincts and drives, but such drives necessarily take a social form and development.
Very little is left untouched by being raised among humans as opposed to animals.