TSW: "The mystery can be intensified by stressing the dissimilarities between animals and humans, thereby cutting the evolution of consciousness from its origins."
BW: Not all animals are conscious, but all vertebrates are ... from anglerfish to humans. So, the first requirement for an analysis of "mind" is to distinguish among animals, vertebrates, and humans. It isn't a matter of "cutting the evolution of consciousness from its origins", but recognizing essential characteristics. Presumably, animals are evolved from plants, so we can further make a distinction between fixed and mobile living things. Failing to do that will cripple any argument.
TSW: D’Holbach: "It is the height of folly to deny intellectual capacities to animals; they feel, think, judge and compare ..."
BW: Which is why it's so important to find a clear, fundamental distinction between consciousness and sapience. Humans are called "Homo Sapiens" for a reason and it's important to define the difference between humans and other conscious animals: we are sapient.
TSW: "Our modern, sophisticated indeterminist is a systems philosopher who typically links the advent of consciousness with free will and neovitalism..."
BW: Most "system philosophers" reject neovitalism and deny free will. The term "free will" is usually associated with humans (sapients), not all conscious animals.
TSW: "Until the terms mind and brain are defined, the mind-brain question is meaningless."
BW: Agreed. I don't think you do that.
TSW: "The air could not be seen, but when it moved, it moved other things that could be seen. Logically, spirit was possessed by anything that moved ..."
BW: The second sentence doesn't follow from the first. It wasn't that spirit and *motion* were equated, but that energetic motion that *could not be seen* was considered "spirit". In ancient Hebrew, the word for "breath" and "spirit" are identical. The human breath (which could not be seen) was considered an immaterial "spirit". When a person died, their spirit ("breath") ceased and "left them". That's the foundation of all things spiritual.
[GB: Sorry, but motion, whether “energetic” of not, and spirit always have been associated. Thus, “school spirit” is demonstrated by students jumping around at sports events, etc. “Spiritualism” hangs on the idea that there is more to the universe than plane old dead matter. Indeed there is, and it is described by matter in motion.]
TSW: "Hegel recognized that minds were not parts of nature, because they were not found situated in space."
BW: The word "recognized" implies that Hegel's view was true. I don't think you really want to endorse the idea of mind being separate from nature.
TSW: "Mechanists have insisted correctly that: All that really exists is the material particles of the substance of the nervous system."
BW: So, now you're a mechanist? This seems at odds with your immediately prior endorsement of Hegel's assertion that mind is not a part of nature.
TSW: "Thinking is what the brain does, just as running is what the legs do."
BW: Correct: it is a process, not an object. One of those Westmiller Things, rather than a Borchardt Thing. Nevertheless, all distinct processes require *particular configurations* of matter in motion, with distinct means for achieving the effects. The brain (animal or human) has the means of producing conscious acts.
BW: However, I don't think you've "circumvented" the muddle, since you still haven't defined your terms. You say "mind" is the motion of matter, without saying what material construct produces the conscious effect. Obviously, it's somewhere in the brain, but you haven't distinguished between the consciousness of animals and human sapience. Assuming there is a distinction, you haven't explained the correlation between "mind" and "knowledge". You just jump ahead to a discussion of human intelligence, which is NOT characteristic of other conscious animals.
TSW: "Knowledge, power, science, revolution, life, global competition, survival - the interconnections are profound ..."
BW: True, but those attributes are not all characteristics of conscious vertebrates, they are characteristics of sapients.
TSW: "If knowledge is the result of the interaction of real humans with the real world, then whether we classify it as 'science' or 'religion' ... makes no difference - it is still knowledge."
BW: It seems to me that you're conceding that religious "knowledge" is a consequence of "interaction" with the real world and therefore just as valid as scientific facts about reality. Clearly, it isn't. Again, the problem is that you still haven't defined "knowledge". Clearly, non-human animals *know* something about reality, even if they never interact with humans.
TSW: "Both the scientists and the priests behave in fundamentally scientific ways: they accept sensory data, compare it with stored data, and then act on the macrocosm according to their conclusions."
BW: Now you've gone a step further, suggesting that priests follow some scientific method. They don't: they simply assume facts that they don't know and jump to conclusions, with no regard for evidence or logic. It seems to me that you're perverting the idea of scientific knowledge, simply because you've failed to define either term. Saying that it all comes under the category of epistemology says nothing about the content of the two kinds of claims.
Next: The Mind-Brain Muddle (Part 2 of 7)