The End To The Era Of Biological Robots

Via Skeptiko, a fascinating interview with neuroscientist Dr. Mario Beauregard, who argues that, like the transition from classical to quantum physics, a revolution is coming in the way science will no longer perceive humans as being merely “biological robots”:

What we call the “modern scientific worldview”… is based on classical physics and this view is based on a number of fundamental assumptions like materialism, determinism, reductionism. So applied to mind and brain it means that, for instance, everything in the universe is only matter and energy that form the brain as a physical object, too, and the mind can be reduced strictly to electrical and chemical processes in the brain.

It means also that everything is determined from a material or physical point of view, so we don’t have any freedom. We’re like biological robots, totally determined by our neurons and our genes and so on. And so we’re reduced to material objects and we are determined by material processes. For a number of materialist thinkers and scientists the mind is totally powerless. It cannot exert any power on what’s going on at the brain level and also in the body.

At a certain point, when the co-called “anomalous” data accumulates there comes a point where the old paradigm cannot exist anymore. I believe that now we are in that sort of transition period toward a new paradigm. The next scientific revolution should be about mind and consciousness in my view.

For instance, there’s a special issue of a mainstream journal in neuroscience called, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, and next year there will be a special issue about the possibility of non-local mind. Only 10 years ago or 15 or 20 years ago, this would not have been possible at all.

There’s a progress regarding this evolution in our field. I think that there eventually will be another big revolution in science and this will be about mind and consciousness. The same kind of revolution that they’ve had about 100 years ago in physics from classical physics to quantum physics.

At the same time in parallel, like you said at the beginning of the interview, if you talk to laypeople, most people do not believe that they are strictly biological robots and don’t have any influence over their brain activity or what’s happening in their body. So, if there’s the start of really a transition within science, it will go quickly because the rest of the world is very sympathetic regarding a non-materialist view of consciousness and of human life and the universe.

Read the rest at Skeptiko

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  • http://singedrac.livejournal.com Singe

    What.

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      You’re only as much a robot as you believe yourself to be.

  • JoiquimCouteau

    It’s about fucking time. Mechanistic biology, from ‘cells are test tubes surrounded by fats and pumps’ to ‘consciousness arises when you have enough neurons’ to ‘organisms compete and the fittest survive’ have always been pseudoscience; the collection of reams of anecdotal data that are trimmed, cooked, and sometimes forged to support pre-existing newtonian-cartesian worldviews. No study could ever ‘prove’ that life is ‘biological robots'; it’s nothing more than a heuristic employed by drug designers and militant know-nothing skeptics.

  • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

    Wow…who saw this coming?

  • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

    BTW, you can still be an atheist and not think people are meat robots. If conscious extends beyond the body is some way similar to magnetism, No God is required.

  • BuzzCoastin

    people are still trying to figure out TV remotes
    it will be along tome before it occurs to them
    that they are not biological robots

  • Mr B

    I’m slightly disappointed by the absence of the Being/Dasein concept in this article.

    Presumably relevant?

  • Artor

    Arrgh! I hate it when the woo-meisters mischaracterize science with strawmen like,

    “What we call the “modern scientific worldview”… is based on classical physics and this view is based on a number of fundamental assumptions like materialism, determinism, reductionism. So applied to mind and brain it means that, for instance, everything in the universe is only matter and energy that form the brain as a physical object,”

    No, the modern scientific worldview is based on drawing conclusions from the available evidence and testing those conclusions to see if they are valid. That ends up being a materialistic practice, because we are only able to detect and measure material things. If someone finds a way to detect, quantify or measure the human mind or soul, then we can begin the process of studying it scientifically. If all you have to work with are suppositions and speculation, then science has nothing to say.

    The article makes this claim, ” For a number of materialist thinkers and scientists the mind is totally powerless. It cannot exert any power on what’s going on at the brain level and also in the body.”

    This is false. It is well known & documented that the mind can and often does influence the brain & the body. We don’t have a working understanding of exactly how the mind operates yet, but we can see what it does, and no scientist that studies the mind & brain would make such an absurd claim.

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