What is the brain?

Forums Mind and Psychology What is the brain?

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Ashish November 11, 2018 at 5:23 am.

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  • #6562
    csbegu
    Participant

    You often use the example of the human body to illustrate how we can sensually perceive the concept of the inverted tree of meanings described in Vedic philosophy. In this illustration the head (or brain) is the root of this inverted tree, while the lower parts of the body are subsequently trunks, branches, figs and leaves. You also say in other parts of your work that there could be two physical objects that look to be of the same kind (in this case organic matter out of which the brain is made) but are in fact semantically different and thus one is actually hierarchically higher. So, is the brain a different type (or a more abstract type) of object than other organs? Also, how does the brain connect with the mind?

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  • #6574
    Ashish
    Participant

    You also say in other parts of your work that there could be two physical objects that look to be of the same kind (in this case organic matter out of which the brain is made) but are in fact semantically different

    Yes, if you use the word “president” in one context it may mean the president of a nation, in another context the president of a football club, and in yet another context the president of a labor union. The word “president” in a universal sense just means the head of something. But based on the context, the same word denotes the head of different things. So there is some innate meaning in the word “president” (i.e. that it is the head of something) but this innate meaning is incomplete. To complete this meaning, we have to bring more things into the context, such as whether we are talking about the football club or a nation. Therefore, individual objects are real and they have some meaning, but that meaning is incomplete. To know the full meaning we have to construct the hierarchy — from context to the symbol. This context is also a symbol inside some bigger context, and this bigger context is a symbol inside even bigger context. So, this is what we mean by hierarchy: to know the full meaning you have to know the immediate context, then the bigger context, then even bigger context, until you arrrive at everything.

    Everything doesn’t have a context, so it is a meaning that is complete. It is not a partial meaning like the “president” which needs to be completed by another type of meaning. It is an individual meaning, and yet it is unlike all the other meanings, and hence it is complete. This everything is hierarchically higher than the individual things which are its parts. So hierarchy simply means that there is an idea of everything which is divided to create infinite somethings.

    So, is the brain a different type (or a more abstract type) of object than other organs? Also, how does the brain connect with the mind?

    There are three kinds of hierarchies: of object, role, and purpose. Just like we can say that the chair is higher than the legs of the chair. This is hierarchy of objects. Then there is hierarchy of roles. Just like the CEO is higher than the employee. This is the hierarchy of roles.

    Before we study the body as material or objective ingredients, we have to study it as divisions of role or functional divisions. At a high level, every living body has some ingestion, digestion, circulation, elimination system. Each of these systems is divided into smaller functions. Each of these functions interacts with other functions, but the extent and nature of this interaction can be different. When we study biology and physiology most of the time we just speak about the functional structure and the interaction between different functions.

    However, each of these functions is also populated by some material object. Just like in a drama there is a character and then there is an actor. The character is the functional division and the actor is the individual performing that function. So, the object hierarchy and the functional hierarchy are both present in the same body. The brain is functionally higher than the rest of the body, just like the CEO is higher than the employee. The brain controls the rest of the body just like the CEO. However, this is only one type of hierarchy. The stomach is higher than the brain in the object hierarchy, and the heart is higher than the brain in purpose hierarchy.

    In the Ayurveda system, there are three guna and dosha. The pitta represents the object hierarchy and resides in the stomach. The kapha represents the purpose hierarchy and resides in the heart. And the vata represents the functional hierarchy and is centered in the brain.

    So the head is not higher in all respects, but it is functionally higher. It is not one hierarchy but rather three hierarchies which combine to create the complete system. Hence there are three aspects of the soul and each one can be said to be higher than the other because sometimes purpose dominates to use the function and the function dominates to use the object. At other times, there are inherent limitations in the object due to which it cannot perform a function, and there are inherent limitations in the function due to which a purpose cannot be fulfilled.

    The basic idea is hierarchy, but we have to think about how three kinds of hierarchies combine. The picture gets more complicated due to this combination because the same thing–e.g. heart–is subordinate to the brain in one hierarchy and higher than the brain in another hierarchy.

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    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by admin. Reason: grammar
  • #6584
    Harsha
    Participant

    I always wanted to understand the meaning of inverted tree in Bhagavadgeetha. It is one of the most difficult verses for me. I paste it here for reference.
    (1) ūrdhva mūlaṃ adhaḥ ṣākhaṁ ashvatthaṁ prāhuravyayaṁ
    chandāmsi yasya parṇāni yastaṁ veda sa vedavit
    (2) adhaschōrdhvaṃ prasṛitāstasya ṣākguṇa pravṛddhā viṣaya pravālāḥ |
    adhaṣca mūlāni anusantatāni karmānubandhīni manuṣya lōke ||

    The first shloka is just definition and easy to understand. In the second the analogy is explained thus: “the three attributes are in the form of the roots. The branches are in the bottom that contains all the life bounded by the karma.”

    My understanding is that root is said to be on top because they are receptors. Just like root absorbs nourishment, the three attributes ever present in the universe is absorbed by the roots of this tree. And just like leaves and trunks various class off organisms and individuals among them too receive these attributes in various proportion based on their karma. And the result is present in the fruits.

    If this is right, My questions are:
    1. Why reverse tree?
    2. Who enjoys the karmaphala, it should be the same individual but in the tree model karmaphala is enjoyed from an entity other than the tree.

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  • #6589
    Ashish
    Participant

    You might want to read one of my books to understand the inverted tree better. All the books cover this idea in one form or another. The root is not a receptor. God is the root, and this root is the whole truth. The trunks, branches, and leaves are partial truths. Just like ‘animal’ is a big idea, and ‘mammal’ is a branch of ‘animal’, and ‘dog’ is a branch of ‘mammal’. So we have to think in terms of ideas and how an abstract idea is the parent of a detailed idea, and the detailed idea exists inside the parent idea, and yet the child and the parent are separate. All these things seem paradoxical when you think about objects, but they become easy when we think about ideas. The most complete idea is at the top or the root, and the incomplete ideas are below as leaves.

    The universe is the tree, but the soul is roaming on this tree like a bird who hops from one branch to another. Some branch is a dog, and another branch is a human. Accordingly by this hopping one gets different bodies. This hopping is due to free will or guna and also compelled due to karma. Their combination is simply described as “enjoying the results of karma“.

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  • #6593
    csbegu
    Participant
    Participant

    So the head is not higher in all respects, but it is functionally higher.

    Could you elaborate more on this? What is the function of the head, hands, feet, stomach etc?

    Also what is the relationship between the chemicals in the brain (like neurotransmitters) and the perception of those neurotransmitters (qualia), which must be in a hierarchically higher space?

    When a thought forms in the mind is it then expressed at the level of the brain in a chemical configuration?

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  • #6597
    Ashish
    Participant

    Could you elaborate more on this? What is the function of the head, hands, feet, stomach etc?

    Do I need to say? Isn’t it obvious what these body parts do?

    Also what is the relationship between the chemicals in the brain (like neurotransmitters) and the perception of those neurotransmitters (qualia), which must be in a hierarchically higher space?

    Nerotransmitters are not qualia. They are carrying information from the different body parts and this information has to be described semantically. Something becomes qualia when it combines with the sense. Otherwise it remains a physical property. Redness is a color, and it becomes red only when it combines with color. Otherwise, it is not redness. And color is not color unless it combines with seeing. Meaning is created in this combination. Otherwise it is a physical property. You are thinking like the biochemist in terms of physics rather than meaning.

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