Re: Books? (was PSYCH EGO LOSS)

Crosby_M (
Mon, 21 Apr 1997 12:56:43 -0400

Geoff Cobb wrote:
<Can anyone direct me to any books on Creativity, brain function and
Cognition? Anders? Mark?>

My favorite book on these subjects (it's not extremely technical but
seems to cover all the main issues AND covers all the fringe theories
as well) is Nick Herbert's _Elemental Mind_. The book is a few year's
old but I think it's still on the shelves in most large book stores
(at least in the U.S.).

Here's a couple of extract from my notebooks:

01/14/95. In ch.1 of "Elemental Mind" Nick Herbert gives the best
explicit description of the various philosophical schools of thought
that I have ever seen. He calls this the "psi/phi", or mind over
matter problem, distinguishing Dualistic models of consciousness,
which maintain "that mind and matter are essentially different kinds
of essences", where you have epiphenominalists who say "mind is a mere
byproduct completely subject to matter's motion ... The switch
controls the light; the light never controls the switch", and animists
who "imagine that behind every material motion lies an invisible
spiritual cause", and interactionalists who believe that "neither mind
nor matter dominates"; and, Monistic models of consciousness believing
that "matter is all that there is", e.g., William Uttal: "Mind is to
the nervous system as rotation is to the wheel", which subdivides into
reductionist materialists who "resemble animists" by believing that
"virtually any mechanical motion results in some kind of inner
experience", emergent materialists who "also believe that
consciousness is a wholly mechanical property of matter, but that only
very complex systems possess it", and idealists (like Roger Penrose)
who feel that "the existence of inner experiences is undeniable, but
... the existence of the external world is not so certain"; finally,
there is neutral monism that "posits the existence of a single
substance possessing both mental and physical attributes." Herbert
goes on to posit 13 criteria that successful consciousness theories
must explain: mind links, mind maps, artificial awareness, quantity of
mind, quality of mind, attention mechanisms, sense of self,
personality, free will, death, mind reach, evolution, and surprise.

01/29/95. In ch.10 of "Elemental Mind", describing the brain as a
quantum reality receiver, Nick Herbert relates the following subjects:
John von Neumann was the father of quantum consciousness models;
Eccles proposal that synapses serve as quantum-actuated microsites
where the immaterial mind exerts its will on the material brain; Bass
& Donald's model of "the quantum mechanics of warm, wet switches"
asserted that "a neuron's ionic channels are the quantum entry points
for consciousness"; E.H. Walker's "flawed but detailed" theories of
quantum synaptic tunneling creating "a kind of 'second nervous system'
operating by completely quantum rules and acting in parallel with the
conventional nervous system [which] mediates unconscious data
processing"; Penrose's claim that we need a theory of correct quantum
gravity to collapse the wave function has the flaw that the Planck
mass, at which quantum states are collapsed to classical states, "is
embarrassingly large" [about the mass of a flea]; In other words, many
objects with large mass could exhibit quantum uncertainties;
Bose-Einstein condensates, systems where the particles act in concert
to generate quantum behavior on the macroscopic scale, underly the
'ferroelectric' proposals of I.N Walker and his wife, Danah Zollar who
"sees neither matter nor mind as primary in nature. Rather each serves
as a context for the other's development"; Greg Keith (a "technoerotic
poet") says "and the I is only an index into life ... I, the constant
truth that controls our innermost loop. The massless I, dilating at
dreamspeed, grows coextensive with more and more selves."

And there's quite a bit more. In particular, Herbert devotes an
entire chapter to James Culbertson's "spacetime reductive materialism"
theories of consciousness. I made a lengthy post last fall excerpting
some of this which is in the archives at

Mark Crosby