The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

The Origins Of Brains

The anthropological record tells the story of a dramatic increase in brain size that happened over a relatively short period of time.  Humans became "intelligent" suddenly and very rapidly. Many scientists and philosophers believe that this rapid increase in brain size must have been driven by a self-amplifying process.

The typical self-amplifying processes are positive feedback loops, in which growth is triggered by growth itself, and there is nothing to stop the growth. The state of the system is out of control. (In negative-feedback systems, such as a furnace for heating a house, there is a control mechanism, e.g. the thermostat. that controls growth for the purpose of maintaining a desired state). 

A positive feedback would explain the rapid evolution of the brain.  The British philosopher Nicholas Humphrey argues that positive feedback may have come from pressure for "social intelligence", the need to communicate and share with other members of our species.  The British biologist Ronald Fisher thought that sexual selection was a form of positive feedback, and this thesis was also defended by the US psychologist Geoffrey Miller.

 


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