The Whirl As I Found It

Obligatory Wittgenstein Reference.Title: “Touching a Nerve: The Self as Brain”

Author: Patricia S. Churchland

Rank: 78

Blurb: “What happens when we accept that everything we feel and think stems not from an immaterial spirit but from electrical and chemical activity in our brains?”

Review: “Being a young aspiring experimental psychology graduate with a minor in philosophy, I find the work of Patricia Churchland refreshing.”

Customers Also Bought: “Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story”

Footnote: Anybody who argues that Self can be explained by brain science should begin by explaining what Self is. We’ll wait.

Touching a Nerve [Amazon]

Buy or Die [Stinque@Amazon Kickback Link]


I earned my undergraduate degree in physiological psychology, which is all about how the body translates external signals into internal electrochemical activity via the senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell to be interpreted, categorized, stored, and analyzed by the various structures in the brain. What we call our consciousness is simply a byproduct of these interactions plus a perception of time. In summary, yes, your brain is in a jar in Russia, just as you’ve always suspected.

‘Self’, not to be confused with ‘Elf: the movie/musical/sink of despair’, is a construct of innumerable brain circuits observing each other innumerably innumerably. As pugs when playing play with pugs playing with pugs playing with pugs. Or vodka.

Or it’s the action of Ares, revered gay god of war and free weights, pale blue Brooks Bros boxers, and motel wrestling.

Either way.

@Benedick: Hey, we’ve missed you. Where’ve you been?

In the immortal words of Karl Pilkington, “Does the brain control you or are you controlling the brain? I don’t know if I’m in charge of mine.” (For those of y’all who haven’t seen The Ricky Gervais Show before, you’re welcome. Hours of mind-boggling entertainment await you.)

@Benedick: So if part of your brain is destroyed your “self” is likewise diminished? Do individuals with impaired brain function (like Schizophrenics or Down’s Syndrome individuals, or myself, for that matter) have less of a “self” than people with brains that function more-or-less according to the norm? If there are structural differences in the brains of Gays and Lesbians, does it mean that their “self” is significantly different than the self of a straight person? If it is, would that imply that one or the other group had a inherently more complete or “better self”?

Where have you been, by the way?

@Tommmcatt Au Gros Sel: Remember someone who was put on Ritalin when she was in 5th or 6th grade describing this same kind of thing. That is, she felt that she was not herself and in a bad sort of way. Her grades in school went from C’s and D’s to A’s and B’s but her art went in the toilet. I don’t know where she ended up later on and always wondered how her adult life turned out.

Bench slap of the day:

California Supreme Court says Stephen Glass is an ass and can’t be admitted to practice law.

When an order opens with this, you know you’re fucked:

Stephen Randall Glass made himself infamous as a dishonest journalist by fabricating material for more than 40 articles for The New Republic magazine and other publications

@SanFranLefty: A lawyer can get disbarred for lying? Wut?

P.S. I should add that I still work in the investment industry, unfortunately, and pretty much the only way to get barred from the industry is by forging a client’s signature (and getting caught), or stealing a client’s money (and getting caught).

Is anyone else watching Looking? I sorta like it. The guys are goofy in a realistic sort of way, and San Fran has a gorgeous, gritty look. However, you can’t just slap facial hair on a bunch of cute gay guys and call it edgy, because hello the 70s happened.

@¡Andrew!: I rather like it. Last night’s episode was great- speaking as someone who has had to navigate race issues in same-sex relationships. My only complaint is that they make the beautiful shining city of San Francisco look rather like I imagine Detroit to look. So dingy and unappealing…

@Tommmcatt Au Gros Sel: I actually like the cinematography, I just wish that the characters were more compelling; though it’s my understanding that they’re on something of a slow build up. I really liked Weekend, so I’m willing to give it a chance and see where they’re going with it. It’s refreshingly less cartoonish than Queer as Folk (US/Canadian version).

@¡Andrew!: You can’t be an obvious liar before you get into the club, but once you get in, in some parts of the clubhouse, it’s a MF free-for-all.

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