Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge - The Mind Summary & Analysis

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The Mind Summary and Analysis

Consilience is especially important in researching the mind that is also the root of knowledge and creation. Various models that attempt to outline the way the brain operates fail as evolution laws make the brain able to survive but not to understand itself. Living and reproducing do not require knowing the way the brain works. The brain is the most complex system known in the universe, consisting of 3,195 genes, which is twice as much as any other organ or tissue. Its surface is wrinkled, weighing on average three pounds. It increases four times during evolution. Ultimately it allows for taking over the earth. The concept of the evolutionary progress is not easily defined as evolution has no preset goals. If evolution would aim at producing increasingly complex systems, its goals and progress may be established. The beginning of life on earth starts with simple organisms, such as bacteria, eukaryotic cells, and then their building blocks allow for the emergence of crustaceans and mollusks that use their central nervous system. The last and most threatening to other forms of life is humanity.

Contemporary science rejects previous philosophical mind concepts involving dualism that are proposed by Rene Descartes. The mind is considered to be the working brain. The research into the working of the brain is taken up by cognitive neuroscience. Any injuries to the brain, including physical traumas, infections, strokes, and poisoning have effects on behavior and thought. When thalamus is destroyed as happened when Karen Ann Quinlan took painkillers and tranquilizers when drinking alcohol in 1975, it can result in death. Scientists strive to monitor the working brain, but only its snapshots so far ARE possible.

The brain from the engineering point of view is composed of wide circuitry and wiring elements contained in a sphere. Nerve cells are called neurons and send signals along axons. The speed is assured by electric discharge through depolarization of the cell membrane while accuracy is assured through the insulation of axons with sheaths. The brain contains one hundred billion nerve cells. Cells connect through synapses that are their points of connection. Electric discharge stimulates synapses and neurotransmitters are released. The connections made by neurons are programmed with precision forming systems of systems during their contacts and forming circuits. Neurons are touched by other neurons and decide whether certain cells are to be active, establishing patterns and roles the cells play in the brain activity.

The size of the human brain is the largest of all animal species, sized just to pass through the birth canal while it is also quite vulnerable to physical contact as humans chose intelligence rather than strength in their evolution. The brain structure evolves during 400 million years, preserving both the ancient parts while adding new to assure survival. Both passion and emotion are linked to reason. The brain has three primitive divisions, such as hindbrain, midbrain (that controls sleep and arousal), and forebrain (that regulates emotional responses and contains the cerebral cortex). There is no seat of consciousness, but certain centers can be active as part of free will. The inside of the cerebral cortex is responsible for one's own concern and welfare. Temporal lobe epilepsy can cause hyper-religiosity or assigning cosmic significance to various events.

The mind is capable of conscious and unconscious experiences, including taste for around 1000 substances. The nervous system has to control hundreds of organs precisely and simultaneously. The lower brain responses and reflexes are primal and genuine, as opposed to contrived and conscious. Emotions stimulate rational thought. Consciousness that satisfies emotion is incapable of command, acting and reacting to retain a stable system. Primary emotions are inborn and instinctive, while secondary emotions are personal. Both are expressed by the same channel.

This section contains 626 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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