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Round The Table - Discuss

Discussion in 'Education & Personal Growth' started by Uttaraa, Dec 3, 2013.

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  1. sokanasanah

    sokanasanah IL Hall of Fame

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    I think it was mostly 'nurture' and the development of 'character' - breeding, education and the like, with no hard-wiring or biological basis. The earliest attribution of a specific deficit to a brain injury is of course by Broca in the mid 1800s (we still have Broca's area in the brain, involved in speech). Following this initial breakthrough, many different deficits were 'mapped' to different regions of the brain., although in a rather simplistic, modular (non-networked) fashion. After that it was Luria in Russia (around WWII?), but his work did not get the exposure it deserved because of language issues, war etc. - some of it did not come out in English until the late 1980s!

    There is one very cool notion in all this history. Most of the 'easily' studied neurological deficits involve the left side of the brain, which controls the 'higher' functions and constitutes a more recent evolutionary addition. The more 'primitive', evolutionarily older right hemisphere, we share with our animal cousins turns out to be much harder to study, because it deals with very fundamental brain processes. Often, a patient with right-brain problems is not even aware of the problem, although it ma be as clear as day to everyone around him! For anyone interested, I would recommend "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat" by Oliver Sacks. It is an easy read that's extremely entertaining. Not a tome that has to be plowed through with grim determination, but short, very well written vignettes about problem brains.

    Of course, my favorite model of the brain remains that proposed by one of the old Greeks (Aristotle, I think). He ventured that the brain was a 'cooling organ'. I agree that the brain is overrated - so many people seem to get along fine without one that I suspect that it remains a squishy air-conditioner.
     
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  2. kkrish

    kkrish Finest Post Winner

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    Hi Soks!
    thanks for the book by Oliver Sacks. Just finished reading it.
    i felt a deep sadness for this brilliant musician, and a bit ashamed of not appreciating my blessed life.
    deviating a little from the topic, I could not help be awed and amazed at his wife. She is so supportive of him. How much she would have sacrificed? If she is not an example of class who else can be?
    i thank you very much for suggesting this book...not only did it illustrate the brains capacities, but also made me philosophical.
     
  3. Uttaraa

    Uttaraa Platinum IL'ite

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    Aristotle reminds me of Galen and his outcry over anatomical lapse on penial gland.

    To those interested, here is a concise article on the exploratory history into the calcifications of the eye of horus (as it is fondly called by the kooky cults). Modern science has proved now that this gland secretes melatonin (a hormone that regulates sleep cycle in vertebrates). But what did some of the early rackers of the brain think?

    To the curious Greeks and other medieval physicians, it offered what we call these days ah! brainstorming sessions not to mention the confusion over another worm-like appendage of the cerebellum over which one did what function. Pineal gland was speculated to regulate the passage of spirit between ventricles of the brain. Galen rebutted as pineal gland is attached to the outside it cannot conduit spirit within the brain. He proposed another worm-like appendage (vemis cerebelli) to take that onus. But does anyone listen to wise men now or then? Fastforward to few centuries around the time when brain was fragmented as lobal spheres for imagination, reasoning and memory retention. What follows is cranial comedy when the wriggly worm like appendage is misquoted for pineal gland and Qusta comes up with -

    "People who want to remember look upwards because this raises the worm-like particle, opens the passage, and enables the retrieval of memories from the posterior ventricle. People who want to think, on the other hand, look down because this lowers the particle, closes the passage, and protects the spirit in the middle ventricle from being disturbed by memories stored in the posterior ventricle"

    Ay Caramba! What happened? Several medieval texts misquoted vermis cerebelli as pinea. No one knows which worm who is talking about. And to add to the confusion another gentleman called Mondino Dei Luzzi adheres these wormish features to choroid plexus in the lateral ventricles which can open and close the passage between the anterior and middle ventricles. Thank your scintillating neurons that you did not study medicine in that era with text books printing 'that worm' when in the late Middle Ages, the term ‘worm’ could refer to no less than three different parts of the brain: the vermis of the cerebellum, the pineal body and the choroid plexus.

    The most popular was Rene Descartes' view calling pineal gland the seat of the soul where mind and body joined. Read the article for the full story, it is quite fascinating. And if you thought people were only setting up rattan seats for souls, we have Francis Crick advocating scientific theory for seat of consciousness - where ? claustrum (A thin layer of gray matter in each cerebral hemisphere between the lentiform nucleus and the insula). Okay - the last one was a well-researched claim. Link to rundown of the publication -Crick's last stand
     
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  4. Uttaraa

    Uttaraa Platinum IL'ite

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    Ah! Kkrish you ..you ...you! I have few more articles on christian monastic and mendantic religious orders to finish before I lay my hands on anything else.

    Nay, that is not going to be our next topic, it is too tendentious to trend on ..!!
     
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  5. Uttaraa

    Uttaraa Platinum IL'ite

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    Er.. since we touched on Greek shores, what do you think of Ionia as fertile ground for Western philosophy; a movement from appeal to revelation to appeal to reason was beginning to shape. Some of the early philosophers were persecuted but some managed to teach, study and explore. A paganistic state like Greek permitted dabble of pre-socratic philosphers on nature, form and origin.

    What do you think?
    Why was that movement not tweped as heresy on pantheon of olympian gods?

    P.S: Weekend muse! Not a deviation ..
     
  6. Uttaraa

    Uttaraa Platinum IL'ite

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    Furrowing material on evolution of vertebrates, found Rise of Animals documentary of Attenborough.

    Watched the first few mins and was distracted by guffaws on the telly. Shall tune into later tonight. Why was I distracted? Here is a picture published in Telegraph and a panel show contestant was asked to comment.


    View attachment 203150


    He replied -

    "Well, they are preparing to take their passport photo to apply for visa and migrate to safer zones with Antarctica ice melting ....and all that..., every one needs atleast a passport with tighter immigration rules , isnt it?"

    Link to the article on what really happened - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/6551152/Emperor-penguin-prepares-to-take-photo.html

    Witty and cracking (not the ice sheet, not wise, but your chin, or the underside of your cheek)! ;)
     
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  7. kkrish

    kkrish Finest Post Winner

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    Hi Uttara
    I started reading about Ionia of the Greeks after reading your post. Lady, there is so much information on that, the reading is going to spill over the weekend.

    Already it is interesting, the little I could manage to read last evening.

    Loved the penguin picture and the delightful article. Lucky photographer.
    You have a good sense of humor, girl. Left that smile on the chin, you know the underside of the cheek :)
     
  8. Uttaraa

    Uttaraa Platinum IL'ite

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    Kkrish,

    I found these tutorials on Western philosophy when I was dabbling in that area

    Introduction to Philosophy | Dr. Brown's Online Philosophy Courses

    They are not academic per se, but good viewing as I found them very educative to initiate into philosophical domain. Starts with the early Ionians and explores teachings of 20th century texts. You may find them useful or please post any articles, tutorials to benefit others that you found useful. Ta...

    Appendix: if you reach that juncture where you fork into natural science and philosophy stream, hop on http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/.

    Am sure Soka will be able to guide further on reading notes but currently I am perusing only these links; hence sharing it here. Don't worry about spilling over the weekend, mine will spill over my lifetime - the exordium, history and knowledge out there, overwhelming ;)
     
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  9. kkrish

    kkrish Finest Post Winner

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    Hi Uttara
    Thanks much. I am not much into philosophy. My head starts aching when I think too much. For me philosophy is to read, try to understand - only less than 1% enters my brain, and continue on with my merry life.

    Of, course I will post something I find interesting.

    Meanwhile, let me read what you have suggested and posted, adding to my repertoire of knowledge which sadly lacks in content.

    I'll surely enter my posts here when/if we get to the two subjects nearer to my heart - carnatic music and space.
     
  10. sokanasanah

    sokanasanah IL Hall of Fame

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    Hmmm 'free associating' are we? From pineal gland to the pre-socratics, from penguins to philosophy, is that stylus stuck on a 'P' groove? :wink:

    Re: philosophy in Ionia, if there is a convincing explanation of why there or why then, I am not aware of it. Maybe it was just a meme that went viral! All the cool kids were doing philosophy! Or perhaps Thales' ability to predict eclipses had something to with it. One crucial thing to remember is that the absolute height of intellectual flowering of the Hellenes took only about 80 years - everything we marvel about, in less than a century! If you were to add the pre-socratics and whatnot, then maybe 125 - 150 years? That is a not even a grain in the sands of time. Curiously, only the Greeks and the Indians have any sort of sophisticated metaphysics. It is an equally interesting question to ask why only those two?

    The greeks were not necessarily entirely open minded right? They had their insecurities. Think about what happened to Socrates - and speaking of the death of Socrates, Plato's "Apology", which is Socrates' last conversation with his friends on the eve of his death, is a must read (of course, now we veer from the metaphysics of the pre-socratics to political philosophy!). It is one of the most moving documents in all of western literature. The Jowett translation is here. It is short, less than 15 pages, well worth reading. Keep in mind that this text echoes even today in the Snowden saga - those who call him a coward for not staying to face the consequences of his choices refer to the "Apology" as their ur-text! Very powerful stuff! The Spark Notes are here. The text is simple & self-contained, but the notes may help those unfamiliar with classical Greece. This Yale lecture promotes the "Apology" as "the best introductory text to the study of political philosphy" - which it certainly is - well worth an hour of your time, a painless intro to a very resonant text (although the lecturer is a bit wooden)!

    A different perspective, a case for the prosecution if you will, is provided in I.F. Stone's "Trial of Socrates" - both irritating and provocative, but quite entertaining!
     
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