“The fungal mind: on the evidence for mushroom intelligence” – Nicholas P. Money [Psyche/Aeon]

“A mente fúngica: sobre a evidência da inteligência em cogumelos

Nicholas P Money é professor de biologia e diretor do Western Program da Universidade de Miami em Oxford, Ohio. Seu livro mais recente é Nature Fast and Nature Slow: How Life Works from Fractions of a Second to Billions of Years (2021).

https://psyche.co/ideas/the-fungal-mind-on-the-evidence-for-mushroom-intelligence

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“Mas, nos últimos anos, um conjunto de experimentos notáveis ​​mostrou que os fungos operam como indivíduos, se envolvem na tomada de decisões, são capazes de aprender e possuem memória de curto prazo. Essas descobertas destacam a sensibilidade espetacular de tais organismos ‘simples’, e situam a versão humana da mente dentro de um espectro de consciência que pode muito bem abranger todo o mundo natural.

Antes de explorarmos as evidências da inteligência fúngica, precisamos considerar o vocabulário escorregadio da ciência cognitiva. Consciência [Consciousness] implica estar em estados consciente [awareness], evidência que pode ser expressa na capacidade de resposta ou sensibilidade de um organismo ao seu entorno. Há uma hierarquia implícita aqui, com a consciência presente em um subconjunto menor de espécies, enquanto a sensibilidade se aplica a todos os seres vivos. Até recentemente, a maioria dos filósofos e cientistas concedia a consciência a animais de cérebro grande e excluía outras formas de vida dessa homenagem. O problema com esse favoritismo, como apontou o psicólogo cognitivo Arthur Reber, é que é impossível identificar um nível limite de consciência ou capacidade de resposta que separa os animais conscientes dos inconscientes. Podemos escapar desse dilema, no entanto, uma vez que nos permitimos identificar diferentes versões de consciência em um continuum de espécies, de macacos a amebas. Isso não quer dizer que todos os organismos possuem uma vida emocional rica e são capazes de pensar, embora os fungos pareçam expressar os rudimentos biológicos dessas faculdades.

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Temos a tendência de associar consciência e inteligência com a aparência de obstinação ou intencionalidade – ou seja, a tomada de decisões que resulta em um determinado resultado comportamental. Quer os humanos tenham ou não vontade própria, tomamos atitudes que parecem intencionais: ela terminou o café, enquanto a amiga deixou a xícara pela metade. Os fungos expressam versões mais simples de comportamento individualista o tempo todo. Os padrões de formação de ramos são um bom exemplo de sua natureza aparentemente idiossincrática. Cada jovem colônia de fungos assume uma forma única, porque variam o momento preciso e as posições de emergência do ramo de uma hifa. Essa variação não se deve a diferenças genéticas, uma vez que clones idênticos de um único fungo parental ainda criam colônias com formas únicas. Embora a forma geral seja altamente previsível, sua geometria detalhada geralmente é irreproduzível. Cada micélio é como um floco de neve, com uma forma que surge em um lugar e tempo no Universo.

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As expressões fúngicas da consciência são certamente muito simples. Mas eles se alinham com um consenso emergente de que, embora a mente humana possa ser particular em seus refinamentos, é típica em seus mecanismos celulares. Os experimentos sobre a consciência fúngica são estimulantes para os micologistas porque abriram espaço para o estudo do comportamento dentro de um campo mais amplo de pesquisa sobre a biologia dos fungos. Aqueles que estudam o comportamento animal o fazem sem referência às interações moleculares de seus músculos; da mesma forma, os micologistas podem aprender muito sobre os fungos simplesmente prestando mais atenção ao que eles fazem. Como jogadores cruciais na ecologia do planeta, esses organismos fascinantes merecem toda a nossa atenção como parceiros genuínos na manutenção de uma biosfera funcional.” [Google Tradutor, com algumas alterações.]

“The mind does not exist” – Joe Goughis [Aeon]

“A mente não existe

Os termos ‘mente’ e ‘mental’ são confusos, prejudiciais e perturbadores. Devemos nos livrar deles

30 de agosto de 2021

Joe Gough é um estudante de PhD em filosofia na Universidade de Sussex, no Reino Unido.

https://aeon.co/essays/why-theres-no-such-thing-as-the-mind-and-nothing-is-mental

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Você tem que pensar e pensar: eles estão entre os conceitos mais polissêmicos que existem. Advogados falam de capacidade “mental”, psiquiatras falam de “doença mental”, cientistas cognitivos afirmam estudar “a mente”, assim como psicólogos e alguns filósofos; muitas pessoas falam de um “problema mente-corpo”, e muitas pessoas se perguntam se está tudo bem comer animais, dependendo se eles “têm uma mente”. Estes são apenas alguns de muitos outros exemplos. Em cada caso, mente e mental significam algo diferente: às vezes sutilmente diferente, às vezes não tão sutilmente.

Em tais domínios de alto risco, é vital ser claro. Muitas pessoas estão prontas para acreditar que os problemas dos ‘doentes mentais’ estão ‘tudo nas suas cabeças’. Nunca ouvi ninguém duvidar de que um problema cardíaco pode levar a problemas fora do coração, mas regularmente tenho que explicar a amigos e familiares que doenças “mentais” podem ter efeitos fisiológicos fora “da mente”. Por que as pessoas costumam achar um mais misterioso e aparentemente surpreendente do que o outro? É porque muitas das pontes construídas pela mente e pelo mental são pontes que é hora de queimar, de uma vez por todas.

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A percepção é geralmente considerada mental, uma parte da mente – ainda, embora a medicina considere a surdez e a cegueira como distúrbios de percepção, ela não as classifica como doenças mentais. Por quê? A resposta é óbvia: porque os psiquiatras geralmente não são os melhores médicos para tratar a surdez e a cegueira (se eles precisarem de tratamento, o que muitos surdos em particular rejeitariam).

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O problema principal é que a mente e o mental vêm com associações que são totalmente inadequadas ao caracterizar uma disciplina médica – “mental” pode, afinal, ser contrastado com “real”, “biológico” e “físico”.

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Existem também maneiras de mapear a imunidade em termos cognitivos. Nas décadas de 1960 e 1970, o trabalho do psicólogo norte-americano Robert Ader revelou uma característica surpreendente do sistema imunológico. Ele treinou ratos para evitar um adoçante inofensivo, administrando-o junto com uma substância química indutora de doenças chamada ciclofosfamida. Ao testar se o treinamento havia funcionado, administrando apenas o adoçante, os ratos começaram a morrer. Quanto mais adoçante, mais rápido eles morreram. Isso era um mistério. Descobriu-se que a ciclofosfamida é um “imunossupressor”, uma substância química que desativa o sistema imunológico. O sistema imunológico havia “aprendido” a desligar em resposta ao adoçante sozinho, e isso deixou os ratos vulneráveis ​​a patógenos normalmente inofensivos em seu ambiente, que os mataram. Em outras palavras, Ader descobriu que o sistema imunológico é receptivo ao condicionamento pavloviano clássico.

Devemos considerar o sistema imunológico como “mental” porque é psicológico e cognitivo?

Isso levou à criação da ‘psiconeuroimunologia’, uma área que envolve, entre outras coisas, psicólogos que estudam o sistema imunológico. Pesquisas posteriores descobriram muitos outros fatos interessantes sobre a “fiação” e os sinais que ligam o sistema imunológico e o cérebro. O sistema imunológico responde de maneiras complexas ao estresse e ao trauma – um desequilíbrio no sistema imunológico está associado a várias doenças psiquiátricas relacionadas ao trauma, como transtorno de estresse pós-traumático e transtorno de personalidade limítrofe (ambos frequentemente ligados a traumas). O sistema imunológico também desempenha papéis importantes no controle do comportamento social. Por exemplo, alguns cientistas acreditam que a depressão às vezes pode ser um efeito colateral do sistema imunológico, reduzindo sua motivação social para minimizar o risco de propagação de doenças; a ideia é que seu sistema imunológico foi acionado para possuir uma ‘crença’ errônea de que você é infeccioso.

Seguir a interpretação da ciência cognitiva e da psicologia como estudar “a mente” cria uma impressão enganosa do que essas disciplinas estão tramando e levanta questões potencialmente inúteis, como se devemos considerar o sistema imunológico e suas capacidades como “mentais” porque é psicológico e cognitivo. Mais uma vez, as pontes construídas pela mente e pela mentalidade revelaram-se inúteis. A psiconeuroimunologia tem tido dificuldade em obter aceitação generalizada, especialmente entre os imunologistas. Em grande parte, isso ocorre porque é amplamente considerado como uma forma de “medicina mente-corpo”, um termo que se aplica tanto a chicanas e autoajuda exagerada quanto a pesquisas médicas legítimas. As pontes construídas entre uma espécie de holismo desleixado, arte da trapaça e psiconeuroimunologia devem muito à mente e ao mental, e pouco fizeram para ajudar as disciplinas às quais supostamente servem.” [Google Tradutor]

Ernst Haeckel’s ‘Kant Problem’: metaphysics, science, and art” by Stefan Forrester [Biology & Philosophy, 2020]

“Ernst Haeckel’s ‘Kant Problem’: metaphysics, science, and art

Stefan Forrester

Biology & Philosophy volume 35, Article number: 27 (2020)

Published: 05 March 2020

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10539-020-09744-4

Abstract

Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) has become famous, and perhaps infamous, for many reasons. Presently, he is probably most widely-known for his paintings of plants and animals in his very popular book, Art Forms in Nature, originally collected and published in 1904. However, in addition to Haeckel’s art, he is also well-known for his advocacy of Darwinism and Social Darwinism, for first coining the term ‘ecology,’ for having his work utilized by Nazi pseudo-scientists (Dombrowksi in Tech Commun Q 12:303–319, 2003), and for famously (perhaps fraudulently) producing drawings of animal and human embryos so as to confirm his biogenetic law (Gould in Nat Hist 109:44–45, 2000). Something Haeckel is not as well-known for today is the fact that he seemed to be both a strenuous critic of the metaphysical and moral philosophies of Immanuel Kant and yet also something of an adherent to Kant’s aesthetic views. In terms of metaphysics and morality, Haeckel sought to exorcise Kant’s ideas as much as possible from twentieth century views on science, humanity, and nature; however, in terms of aesthetic theory, Haeckel seemed to embrace a distinctly Kantian approach to art and artworks. This essay proposes to: (1) carefully examine Haeckel’s refutations of some of Kant’s central metaphysical concepts, (2) explore some of the, arguably Kantian, assumptions underlying Haeckel’s approach to aesthetics and his artistic practice, and (3) combine these two lines of inquiry into a portrait of Haeckel’s mind as one that is conflicted about the role Kantian philosophy, and more specifically Kantian noumena, should play in twentieth century science and art. This unresolved tension in Haeckel’s mind regarding Kant’s noumenal realm is what I propose to call his ‘Kant Problem’.

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Haeckel’s refutations of Kantian metaphysics and morality

Ernst Haeckel had a complex relationship with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. While Haeckel respected Kant’s thinking and his position as a highly important figure in the history of ideas, he also wanted very much to dispute several of Kant’s central philosophical claims. Haeckel wanted to do away with much of Kant’s epistemology and metaphysics, and most of his ethical theory as well. It is clear that Haeckel studied Kant during his beginning years as a professor at Jena in the early 1860s. Robert Richards in his book The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle Over Evolutionary Thought cites reliable evidence that Haeckel read Kant’s works with Kuno Fischer (1824–1907), the then rector of the University at Jena, and that Haeckel was also reading the works of Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), a renowned Kant and Schelling scholar who worked to suffuse the sciences with philosophical ideals, much like Haeckel himself would do later in his career (2008). The important difference being that Humboldt sought to conjoin modern science with Kantian-style metaphysical concepts, whereas Haeckel thought that Kant’s views were incompatible with the progress of scientific knowledge and with a scientific worldview.

In his own philosophical works some 35 years later, such as The Wonders of Life: A Popular Study in Philosophical Biology (1905), and The Riddle of the Universe at the Close of the Nineteenth Century (1901), Haeckel advocated vehemently for a kind of philosophical monism. A monism which set nature, i.e., scientifically-analyzable nature, as the one and only component of existence that encompasses and expresses all the properties of the universe, both physical and mental. Haeckel says clearly in Riddle of the Universe, “We adhere firmly to the pure, unequivocal monism of Spinoza: Matter, or infinitely extended substance, and spirit (or energy), or sensitive and thinking substance, are the two fundamental attributes or principal properties of the all-embracing divine essence of the world, the universal substance” (pp. 33–34).Footnote3 The main idea of monism is generally that there is only one substance that has properties: nature. Moreover, for philosophers like Spinoza, this substance is also identical to God, they are one in the same thing, the substance in which all the properties of the universe inhere. Haeckel, interestingly, also refers to his version of monism as a thoroughgoing ‘practical materialism.’Footnote4 The most controversial consequence of this view is that it eradicates the metaphysical possibility for the supernatural. If we are to conceive of God, souls, angels, the afterlife, etc., as essentially a different kind of substance than nature, then they are all rendered philosophically impossible by Haeckel’s monism; partly because God et al. are defined as being non-natural, which means that by definition they cannot exist apart from nature, and also because non-natural entities are not subject to scientific analysis. On the other hand, the philosophical benefits of monism, Haeckel believed, were many. First, scientific monism finally rids the world of all forms of superstition and supernatural religious beliefs. Haeckel thought that this result would be a great boon to humanity, he says quite bluntly in The Wonders of Life, “For my part, I hold that superstition [here he is discussing the belief in miracles] and unreason are the worst enemies of the human race, while science and reason are its greatest friends” (p. 56). Second, Haeckel saw monism as laying the philosophical groundwork for a fully scientized understanding of both the external world we explore with our senses and the internal world we explore with our minds, both of which are, simply, nature. Furthermore, Haeckel claims that all of nature is governed by rigid, universal laws, and that only science and the scientific method allow us to discover these laws. Finally, Haeckel contends that non-Monist philosophical systems, like dualism, only serve to confuse and conflate the true nature of reality and lead us to make distinctions, e.g. between the body and the mind, where none actually exist.

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Haeckel’s rejection of Kant’s metaphysical views comes from two directions: (1) Since the knowledge of noumena must be a priori and since there is no way for science, which is based solely on knowledge from sensation, i.e., a posteriori knowledge, to prove the existence of a priori knowledge, we must reject noumena if we are to maintain a scientific worldview. (2) If we were to accept the existence of noumena, that would amount to a kind of dualism about the mind and external reality, which is tantamount to just another form of spiritual superstition; a superstition that is philosophically grounded instead of faith-based, but a superstition nonetheless. Haeckel’s argument for his first thrust against Kant is basically that what Kant understood as reason, or the pure a priori faculty of the mind, is in fact something that physiological studies of the brain in Haeckel’s era has explained in purely scientific terms. Namely, that the vast collection of neurons in the brain are the physical basis for consciousness, and that the uniquely human faculty for understanding what appear to be a priori truths and concepts actually has an a posteriori basis in terms of how the human brain evolved. If we understand the a posteriori history of the human brain’s development, Haeckel argues, we will then be able to dispense with the idea that our perceived faculty for a priori truths (i.e., reason) is anything more than a scientifically measurable, a posteriori, phenomenon:

Kant regarded this highest faculty of the human mind as innate, and made no inquiry into its development, its physiological mechanism, and its anatomic organ, the brain….it was impossible to have at that time a correct idea of its physiological function. What seems to us to-day to be an innate capacity, or an a priori quality, of our phronema, is really a phylogenetic result of a long series of brain-adaptations, formed by a posteriori sense-perceptions and experiences (1905, p. 69).

Haeckel argues for the second prong of his attack by stating simply that any appeal to a reality beyond what can be perceived by the senses amounts to superstition regardless of whether it comes from a religion or a powerful philosophical thinker like Kant, “The sense world (mundus sensibilis) lies open to our senses and our intellect, and is empirically knowable within certain limits. But behind it [according to Kant] there is the spiritual world (mundus intelligibilis) of which we know, and can know, nothing; its existence (as the thing in itself) is, however, assured by our emotional needs. In this transcendental world dwells the power of mysticism” (1905, p. 68). In this quote I think we see Haeckel distilling down his frustrations with Kant’s metaphysics quite sharply. Haeckel implies here that Kant’s arguments for the noumenal realm amount to some sort of emotional appeal, or the idea that it is only as a result of our psychological need for a deeper level of reality beyond the phenomenal, that we are tempted to believe in a ‘mystical’ transcendental world at all. Nevertheless, since this emotional need is very strong, it manifests itself as very powerful religious, spiritual, and mystical beliefs and practices, all of which I think Haeckel would classify as forms of superstition. Kant’s views leave the door open for a spiritual realm that is distinct from the phenomenal world that comes to us through the senses and is thereby impenetrable to the methods and modalities of science. Accepting this “mundus intelligibilis” as an integral part of reality is, I think for Haeckel, a basic philosophical mistake that is tantamount to embracing superstition.

Moving now to Haeckel’s criticisms of Kant’s moral theory, those objections emerge directly from his criticisms of Kant’s metaphysics. Haeckel argues that once Kant left open the door to the “mundus intelligibilis” in his metaphysical theory, it was easier for him to import some traditional ethical assumptions through that door to function as the basis for his moral views, namely the notions of God, free will, and the immortality of the soul, i.e., Kant’s three archetypal ideas of reason. Thus the foundations of Kant’s moral theory, says Haeckel, rest on that same fundamental mistake of affirming the existence of the noumenal realm in addition to the phenomenal realm (the realm of science). Haeckel bemoaned the fact that most other philosophers and theologians in his day were still in Kant’s camp when it came to morals, stating, “They affirm, with Kant, that the moral world is quite independent of the physical, and is subject to very different laws; hence a man’s conscience, as the basis for his moral life, must also be quite independent of our scientific knowledge of the world, and must be based rather on his religious faith” (1901, p. 348). In this passage we begin to see a kind of crystallization of Haeckel’s fears about Kant’s decision to accept the noumena as real. As a result of these fears Haeckel’s purely philosophical objections to the phenomena-noumena distinction were not altogether well-formed. He objected to the noumena mostly on the grounds that they conflicted with his preferred worldview of monism. Haeckel did not necessarily attack the noumena on logical grounds as being self-contradictory or incoherent, thus he could not advocate for their elimination from metaphysics based only on reasoning. But now we see Haeckel showing us the damaging results of allowing the noumenal level of reality into the world. Basically, all of what Haeckel saw as the destructive impact of religion and religious belief was facilitated by the noumena. The most important areas of human experience: knowledge, morality, truth, and reality all become different sorts of divine mysteries because of the noumena. Moreover, the scientific study of nature (the phenomena) becomes inherently secondary and limited compared to the conceptual understanding of the noumena. In other words, with the noumena allowed into our worldview, science can play no role in some important areas of human experience, like morality. Instead, science must remain silent, and clearly, Haeckel wishes to argue that this result is detrimental to humanity.

Lastly, while still addressing Kantian morality, Haeckel repeats his strategy of attacking Kant’s views both philosophically and scientifically. In The Wonders of Life Haeckel claims that modern science has understood the human brain to such a degree that Kant’s appeal to the unique human faculty of reason no longer holds any weight. By studying the brain, science has rendered what Kant thought was a noumenal entity (reason) into a phenomenal entity (the brain). Therefore, there is no longer any need for noumena. Likewise, in Riddle of the Universe, Haeckel asserts that various modern sciences have either explained or dispelled all of Kant’s noumenal ethical concepts. Haeckel says that modern anthropology has “…dissipated [the] pretty dream…” (1901, p. 349) that all humans have an identical set of ethical faculties because they are based on the universality of reason. The study of other cultures has told us clearly, Haeckel argues, that peoples and cultures differ widely on what constitutes a good ethical person, and what constitutes good ethical judgment. He also claims that “comparative and genetic psychology” has shown that there cannot be a soul and that modern physiology has proven the impossibility of free will (Haeckel 1901, p. 349). Although Haeckel does not fill in much scientific detail about these claims, he clearly sees them as decisive arguments against Kant’s moral theory. The final blow from modern science that Haeckel deals to Kantian morality is that its central tenet, namely Kant’s much vaunted categorical imperative,Footnote5 has been replaced by the biological understanding of human beings as social creatures. Without going into too much detail, Kant thought that the categorical imperative could be proven using a “transcendental deduction of pure reason (see especially Part I, Book I, Chapter I of the Critique of Practical Reason). This deduction, being transcendental and not empirical, involves several noumenal ideas, such as the notion of the “good will”, “autonomy”, and “freedom of the will” to name a few. Hence, when Haeckel says, “[This]…shows that the feeling of [moral] duty does not rest on an illusory ‘categorical imperative,’ but on the solid ground of social instinct, as we find in the case of all social animals” (1901, p. 350), he is casting serious doubt on Kant’s use of noumenal ideas, going so far as to call them “illusory” in this context. So here, just as Haeckel earlier dispensed with Kant’s notion of the noumenal mind with neurology, he dispenses with Kant’s noumenal ethical notions with anthropology.”