The Concept Of The Soul By Steven Pinker

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In his works, modern philosopher Steven Pinker attempts to discredit traditional beliefs about the soul. He uses information gathered about human biology and technological research to substantiate his claim that “our theory of mind is the source of the concept of the soul” (Slate, Ch 13). Pinker, specifically, questions theories about when the soul officially manifests and then argues against the notions that that the immaterial soul is the source of human intelligence. Pinker also responds to the criticisms of modern day social scientists. Research about both technology and human biology has come very far; science is answering what used to be unanswerable. There is an engrained psychological belief that bodies are invested with souls. Our…show more content…
Intelligence is often attributed to the idea that, as humans, we contain a soul. A commonly upheld belief is that our soul is something that we can’t touch or see but is nonetheless there. How does this apparent ‘ghost’ affect us physically then? How is it that our soul can be electrocuted or make us walk? Another theory is that the mind is made of some “extraordinary form of matter” like that which was used to build Pinocchio. Perhaps brain tissue, as this form, emits the mind? If we accept the fact that something physical and not immaterial allows humans to be intelligent, then perhaps it isn’t some unexplainable material, and instead it is the patterning of the material. The information is what is important, not some magic material or immaterial orb. Information and human intelligence do not come from sheer chance. Our mind’s ability to process information is distinctive. We can observe some sample of matter and recognize that as a symbol it carries information and as a matter is accomplishes something physical as well. Would it be possible to build a machine that could do something similar; a machine that can make marks that agree with real world events? Mathematician Alan Turing created a hypothetical machine with input and output symbols that could resemble any number of interpretations. The machine was able to use logic to make new true statements from the true statements it was given. Turing was…show more content…
Behavior is motivated by reasons, whereas physical events have causes. It is impossible to explain feelings and desires with biology and mathematics. Pinker disputes this, because although the mind is a mystery “the mental world can be grounded in the physical world by the concepts of information, computation, and feedback” (Slate, Ch 3). When we decide to sit in a certain chair or to text our best friend, the motivation is difficult to explain. Our memories and our beliefs are essentially just facts that are kept in a database, and our thoughts and plans are just systematic patterns. Our senses connect the mind to everything around us, and by doing so they cause physical energy and information to sync. This is the computational theory of the mind. The theory suggests that our minds are intelligent and rational information processors. If critics would like proof, then artificial intelligence is well on its way to showing the world that matter is capable of doing what the mind can. Computers are capable of so much nowadays; they can distinguish faces, organize data, solve equations, and so on. Those who are critical of this theory may point out that although computers can do simple input and output processing tasks, there still needs to be a human that uses the computer to make judgments, reflect, and even be creative. IBM created the
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