second best photos of 2013

August 11, 2016

"Twenty percent of Americans describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious." Although the claim seems to annoy believers and atheists equally."
--Sam Harris, "Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion"
"There is barely time enough in a book-- or in a life-- to get to the point."
--Sam Harris, "Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion"
"The neurologist V. S. Ramachandran seems to have been thinking along these lines when he wrote, "It may not be coincidental that [you] use phrases like 'self conscious' when you really mean that you are conscious of others being conscious of you.""
--Sam Harris, "Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion"
The philosopher Roland Puccetti once observed that the existence of separate spheres of consciousness in the normal brain would explain one of the most perplexing features of split-brain research: Why is it that the right hemisphere is generally willing to bear silent witness to the errors and confabulations of the left? Could it be that the right hemisphere is used to it?
An answer consistent with the hypothesis of mental duality in the normal human brain suggests itself. The non-speaking hemisphere has known the true state of affairs from a very tender age. It has known this because beginning at age two or three it heard speech emanating from the common body that, as language development on the left proceeded, became too complex grammatically and syntactically for it to believe it was generating; the same, of course, for what it observed
--Sam Harris, "Waking Up".

More than any of those other quotes, this idea has got me thinking. I want to read up on split minds, and the dual consciousness we all seem to carry. I've coming up with some "Just So" stories about and want to find out if that split could explain things like this "inner teenager" I have to struggle with in order to, for instance, keep my weight where "I" want it. I've tended to assume that my conscious self was just the aggregate of all of my brain when it decides to muster itself into a voice, but could it be there's more of a spatial division?

Even if true, it does myself - my full self- a disservice to let my left-brain speaker presume it's "more authentically me" than my inner teenager or what not... "we're" all in this together, in the most literal sense possible. Similarly, in the Sam Harris podcast where he's patching things up with Daniel Dennett, I'm surprised they both let Texas belltower shooter Charles Whitman - whose notes and requested autopsy pointed to a brain tumor as the cause of his murderous behavior - let that brain tumor be considered as something external to Whitman... since if detected in a timely way it could have been removed, and Whitman would have been by most accounts a fine upright person. But I'd have to say, when that tumor was controlling his actions, it was "really him", you know? Saying otherwise feels like a distraction.

I want to ponder on this further to think if other external influences to a person's behavior, outside control, hypnosis, etc, challenges my view, but I think it's pretty consistent.