Friday, August 04, 2006

Just some concepts that ran through my mind on the drive up from Tucson to Phoenix with my sister, where I'll be spending Shabbat with her, her fiance (my friend), and his family.

Everything humanity creates is in its own image. Two good examples are cars and computers. We make cars in the image of our bodies; the parts and liquids in the car are parallels to our organs and the fluids in our body, which the organs need to function, or to function well. A car's body is very much like the human body, which is probably why it's called a "body." Since the human body is so universal to humanity, and we have a hard time thinking outside the norm of the body (and don't need really), we create cars (and other things) in our image.

This goes for computers are well, which are fashioned after our brains. A computer, like a human brain, is able to store, retrieve, recollect, and recognize information. It's no wonder that we began to make the computer only once we started to understand how the human brain functions.

The real question is how we explain the mind, which is associated with but not entirely inseparable from the brain, for if the brain and mind were totally connected to each other then by simply making a brain we would also happen to be making a mind. But the reality of the matter is that we have not created a mind, i.e., a consciousness, by creating and attaching the physical parts that make up a computer. Granted, a computer has a sort of "consciousness" if we consider that we give it commands, which it recognizes and then follows. However, this is merely rule-following, and it is the same set of rule-following that causes a rock to break when you smash it against the ground, yet can we say that just because the rock is following rules (of physics) that it possesses a consciousness? If it had a consciousness then we would be forced to conclude that we could throw a rock against the ground and in the event the rock did not want to follow the rules (of physics) that it could fight against the rules and keep itself from breaking completely, or if it was an experienced rock it could keep itself from breaking altogether. If a rock had consciousness it could resist the rules. However since this is not the case we know that simple rule-following is not indicative whatsoever of consciousness, and therefore we must conclude that there is more to a mind than intelligence. What this means is that there is much more to creating a mind than creating a functioning, thinking brain (which is what a computer is).

When we turn this question to ourselves, we are forced to ponder the existence of our own consciousness. We have a brain, that is clear, but does the existence of a brain necessitate the existence of our mind, i.e., our consciousness? Like I demonstrated, a brain, like the computer created in its image, has no consciousness and simply follows a set of rules, although in the brain's case the rules are much more intricate and complex. This is moot though, a brain does what it is "told to do." If you pick up a hot potatoe your brain will tell your hand to move your fingers so that you drop it. This happens against your will, and in reality without the knowledge of your will; it happens before your mind, your consciousness, has processed the event. What this means is that your brain is acting without your mind and that your mind and your brain are seperate entities.

To demonstrate it more simply, if you removed a brain from a head, it would clearly not have a consciousness of its own; it would be reduced to a fleshy organ not much different than a liver or a piece of muscle, incapable of functioning outside of its attachment to the rest of the body. It just so happens that the brain is the organ upon which all other organs rely on for functioning, but in the end it too is just a piece of meat. The most amazing thing about the brain is that it is a piece of meat able to hold information. Nevertheless, in all its amazing ability, and it is truly amazing, the brain cannot explain the human consciousness. It might be possible that the brain's ability to place a person in a three dimensional setting, i.e., situates the person in the world, is not much different from its ability to make fingers drop a hot potatoe; both are indications that the brain recognizes external stimuli.

But even if we were to concede this, the brain's functioning cannot account for the notion of the meaning of self. It also can't account for philosophy or thoughts about the world external to the external world (the spiritual world), unless of course we assume that the world external to the external world, i.e., the spiritual world, is a world that affects the human being as much as or more than the physical world. Since the reality of the self is almost like navigating a terrain, we have to wonder how it is the brain that is able to, through the sum of its parts, create an identity, a mind. Try to locate your mind; where in you is your mind? Is it in your head, your brain? Or maybe your heart, or a different organ in the body? If you look around enough you'll realize that your mind is not located anywhere specific in your body, but rather, you are your mind.

The spiritual world is a reality that affects the human being in a relevant way, the brain actually contains an area designed to be receptive to activity in that external area, and that "section" of the brain is the mind.
(Very) Old News

Pictures from the Gaza Pullout. Sure, extremists are extremists, some of you might say, and that's fine, I won't argue that; some of these Jews here were definitely extremists. I am just proud the way our extremists act in relation to that of the Palestinians, and I also think that our cause is much more worthy. Most of these pictures are amazing, but there are a couple that just give you chills, such as the older woman asking the line of Israeli soldiers why they were making them leave.

Look at her, she's Mizrachi (a Middle Eastern Jew) and probably just some 50 years ago an Arab government made her leave the Arab country in which she lived, now she has to move again to make room for Arab Palestinians.

Some of them make you angry, like seeing the line of Israeli soldiers protecting the Palestinian house - Palestinians, that's what a true free and open government looks like!

And some make my heart warm and wish that I had been there but also upset me, such as this one. Nevertheless, this is exactly the way a just and proper government deals with internal dissidents, even if the action is improper, and this is exactly the humane way for a dissident to behave towards a member of the State; this picture makes me proud to belong to the Jewish people and to Israel!

And then you have touching ones, which give you a feeling you can't explain, like this soldier who had to evict his friend.

A very complex picture; one soldier comforting another who is emotionally distraught during the pullout. Perhaps she sympathizes with the settlers. Perhaps she knows some. Perhaps she was mistreated by them. Perhaps she agrees with them but has to serve her country. Perhaps she understands that Israeli history is Jewish history. Perhaps she doesn't like to see people cry.

The men have their issues as well.

Some Nachman Chassidim making the best of the situation; another reason I am proud to be Jewish.

Sometimes Jews throw rocks too.

Interesting statement.


Who knows what's going through this kid's mind?

A picture that might as well be from the pages of the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) during time of internal strife in the Jewish monarchies or during exiles. Again, gives you a real grasp of our history.

Reading T'hillim (Psalms).

*Disclaimer: if you are a person who is of the opinion that this is happening because we haven't accepted Jesus, you need to rethink all of your paradigms on existence.

Nasra-llah Getting Ready to Throw in the Towel

Nasra-llah is so predictable. He attacked Israel without thinking that they would have a strong reaction. He thought that they would be bullied into peace talks, which are to no avail with terrorist groups like Hezba-llah (and Hamas). He was caught off guard big time when Israel started launching missiles like crazy, but his war face had already been put on and he had to continue fighting lest he look like a weak loser and be ousted by terrorists more extreme than him (this is a great way to end your career and is a terrorist's worst dream). He held on as long as he could, and still is, perhaps thinking that international pressure or Israeli desires to negotiate would cause the bombing to stop and allow him to continue his own bombing. Tonight I saw that Nasra-llah had said that he will continue to bomb Israel, but said immediately after that he will stop bombing cities and towns if Israel does. It would be damaging to his career to go out without a bang, so he had to get one last threat in there before getting in his request for the bombings to stop. Rule number one with Arab terrorists; don't believe the hype. The news also said that Iran has asked him to cease firing. Perhaps the Arab states have a say in this pressure, or perhaps the death count in Lebanon has finally gotten high enough for him to call it off. In other words, he is saying "Please stop bombing us," his bluff has reached its end.

Or has it? This could also be a part of his lying campaign; once Israel stops, he might start up again (although that would be extremely stupid but let's not overestimate this terrorist). Israel says that it won't pull its ground troops out of southern Lebanon (they have reached the Litani River, relatively north) until the UN steps in to fill the vaccuum that they'll leave. One potential problem with the UN solution; it's peacekeepers are not allowed to fire, which in effect makes their presence symbolic and not very useful, and this would mean that the UN is not a solution. It might even mean that the UN peacekeepers will be attacked by Hezba-llah and will have to leave. All in all, if the UN goes in there it better have some bite or the fighting will continue; sometimes peacekeepers have to fight too. There is no way to predict for sure what will happen when and if the UN goes in there, but there was an instance three years ago when Hezba-llah kindnapped three different Israeli soldiers and the UN peacekeepers were filmed reportedly allowing Hezba-llah fighters to put the soldiers in a van and to drive away.

People were beginning to get antsy with and crictical of Israel's bombing in Lebanon but I said then that it had to continue and eventually Nasra-llah's bluff would be called and he would back out, and tonight that began to occur.

My mom, a native of Israel and raised there, seems to dish up some amazingly accurate analyses of Israeli politics, and she is not a student of politics or extremely interested in it. Rather, she has been through the '56, '67, '73, and '82 wars with Egypt ('56), Egypt, Syria, and Jordan ('67), Egypt ('73), and Lebanon ('82) respectively and also served for three years when she turned 18, like all Israeli's. She just got back here after moving back to Israel following my parents' divorce about a year ago for my sister's wedding (in two weeks, todah la'Kel). She said that Israel made a mistake with Lebanon; every two years or so they bomb Lebanon so that they can't load up on their stockpile of weapons; this time around they went six years without doing that and this is the result. What? She's been counting the years? Is the two year period that reliable? Turns out that my mom has been internally waiting for the two-year period, like some kind of barometer -- I pail in comparison to the coolness of my mom. She's not even rightwing but rather quite apolitical, but she has been though four wars with the Arab states starting with the year of her birth. She also said that the border with Lebanon and even with Gaza used to be such a safe border (I visited it with my family when I was thirteen) and shows that Israel has "been sleeping" due to the fact that Hezba-llah was able to snatch a soldier after crossing that border and the blue line. She said the same about Gaza. Yashar ko'ach, Mom, and yasar ko'ach G-d for listening to my prayers this Tisha B'Av and before, which were as follows:

Please let this be the last war and let the Meshiach come.
Let all our soldiers come back safely.
Put your Hand on the innocent Lebanese.
Kill the members of Hezba-llah.
May Israel continue to bomb Lebanon until Nasra-llah backs down, no ceasefire and no listening to useless criticism.
May Nasra-llah die quickly.