Mind and Body on @BBCStartWeek

I’ve claimed “Evolutionary Psychology” as my topic since I started this blog. Dominant schools of thought have evolved with the human mind, something that’s true for any “belief system” including modern “rational” science. I don’t use the term “Evo-Psych” too much since, like so many ideas named and hijacked by one flavour at one period of time, it’s become a meme for a “bad” way of looking at things, even though “evolution” has become the “standard model” for practically anything and everything. Even at intergalactic scales cosmologists talk in terms of its evolution since the big bang(s).

Two threads crossed whilst I was listening to BBC Radio 4’s “Start the Week” Mind and Body this morning.

Marr opens referring to “our clinical science driven culture” and the place of psychology where scepticism relegates subjective mind, consciousness, perceived qualia and will etc. to a bucket called “hard problems” if not outright denial where “hard-core science-driven rationalists” fail to satisfactorily explain.

Jo Marchant – Cure – keen to point out she’s a real PhD academic when it comes to her work on psychology in medicine. So much of what we perceive medically IS psychological. Pain, relief and recovery, so much more than just placebo. All about the quality of life and care.

Anthony Grayling on the ancient mind-body topic. Paternalism, bed-side manner, tone and kindness in medical care, long before it became dominated by the science of specific treatment and drugs. With Dr John Dee rational thought and magic (the psychology of stage magic) went hand in hand before Descartes severed them.

Jane McGonigal – Turning threat (negative) into challenge (positive) response. The power of mental activity on physical and psychological outcomes. Using gaming mental activity to achieve total immersion and engagement – Flow state (after Csikszentmihalyi) [Imaginary game is a safe space – no real threats, all mental challenges.]

Simon McBurney – conceptions of time, space-time, time and space inseparable, subjective body and objective environment also inseparable. Locating consciousness more generally. Problems in “over-separation” of things, problematic analytic reductionism – inherent in language. What we understand of reality is filtered through the model we hold mentally and share in language.

The accepted physical model in physical science is a Catch-22, a self-fulfilling prophecy that inevitably excludes the mind effects it is unable to explain in its adopted language. Science so needs philosophy, and a philosophical view that hasn’t already been forced into an accepted scientific straitjacket. Fascinating episode.

The threads crossed when listening to the above, a conversatioin started on a link posted by Sabine Hossenfelder to a new paper on long-running debates around the cosmological constant, where one possible constraint is effectively a feature of an Anthropic Principle – whereby what is modelled is inevitably filtered by our “place” in the cosmos.


Post Note – And putting the body back into the picture (ht to @kenanmalik). I have an information view of fundamental reality, but I’m not a greedy reductionist. Gestalt says that organised layers have their own lives and existence, that cannot be reduced to their parts, whether we’re talking body or mind.

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