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Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind

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  • Stoic Stoic
    Re: Plasticity, There s growing evidence that Stoic / CBT techniques alter the physical structure of the brain. I interviewed on psychiatrist, Ronald Pies, who
    Message 1 of 18 , Jul 1 3:26 AM
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      Re: Plasticity,

      There's growing evidence that Stoic / CBT techniques alter the physical structure of the brain.

      I interviewed on psychiatrist, Ronald Pies, who is also a fan of the Stoics (he wrote a book on them called Everything Has Two Handles), and he pointed out research that showed, for example, the metabolic activity of OCD sufferers in their pre-frontal cortex was shown to calm down significantly following CBT treatment.

      All the best,

      Jules


      --- On Tue, 6/30/09, Kevin <kevin11_c@...> wrote:

      From: Kevin <kevin11_c@...>
      Subject: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
      To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 9:55 PM

      I recently watched a DVD which I rented from Netflix; it was called The Brain Fitness Program produced by PBS. The main theme was what actions folks could take to retard the normal decline of mental functions which occurs with aging.  However there were a couple sub-themes which reminded me of Stoic (particularly Epictetus’) thought. One of the sub-themes was the “plasticity” of the brain. The ability to form new connections and that determination and enthusiasm enabled us to form new pathways in our own minds. Thought processes or “judgments” are pathways in our mind (actually neurons connected in a certain way). Also repeated use of certain pathways strengthens these pathways; they become well worn and can even form a “rut”. A rut can be a negative consequence of the plastic nature of our brains. Epictetus, at times, reminds us that tending to our judgments and the ability to do so is a Human characteristic, and one which a proper human takes seriously. I am always amazed that we have the capacity to think about thinking, and derive conclusions about ourselves. Is this the genesis for dualistic philosophical and religious thought?  This capacity is something E believed was THE capacity which made people something special.

       Another feature which struck me was how the scientists on the program referred to judgments (my term) as physical characteristics of the brain. I can’t help but think that science may yet vindicate those old Stoics who thought things like Virtue, Vice and judgments themselves were “bodies,” (from a certain point of view of courseJ).

      Regards

      Kevin.

       

      P.S I like the program and recommend it



    • Leo Iermano
      Hi Jules How s it going?, no newsletter this month? Cheers Leo ... From: Stoic Stoic Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind To:
      Message 2 of 18 , Jul 1 3:56 AM
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        Hi Jules

        How's it going?, no newsletter this month?

        Cheers
        Leo

        --- On Wed, 1/7/09, Stoic Stoic <londonstoic@...> wrote:

        From: Stoic Stoic <londonstoic@...>
        Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
        To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
        Received: Wednesday, 1 July, 2009, 8:26 PM

        Re: Plasticity,

        There's growing evidence that Stoic / CBT techniques alter the physical structure of the brain.

        I interviewed on psychiatrist, Ronald Pies, who is also a fan of the Stoics (he wrote a book on them called Everything Has Two Handles), and he pointed out research that showed, for example, the metabolic activity of OCD sufferers in their pre-frontal cortex was shown to calm down significantly following CBT treatment.

        All the best,

        Jules


        --- On Tue, 6/30/09, Kevin <kevin11_c@yahoo. com> wrote:

        From: Kevin <kevin11_c@yahoo. com>
        Subject: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
        To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
        Date: Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 9:55 PM

        I recently watched a DVD which I rented from Netflix; it was called The Brain Fitness Program produced by PBS. The main theme was what actions folks could take to retard the normal decline of mental functions which occurs with aging.  However there were a couple sub-themes which reminded me of Stoic (particularly Epictetus’) thought. One of the sub-themes was the “plasticity” of the brain. The ability to form new connections and that determination and enthusiasm enabled us to form new pathways in our own minds. Thought processes or “judgments” are pathways in our mind (actually neurons connected in a certain way). Also repeated use of certain pathways strengthens these pathways; they become well worn and can even form a “rut”. A rut can be a negative consequence of the plastic nature of our brains. Epictetus, at times, reminds us that tending to our judgments and the ability to do so is a Human characteristic, and one which a proper human takes seriously. I am always amazed that we have the capacity to think about thinking, and derive conclusions about ourselves. Is this the genesis for dualistic philosophical and religious thought?  This capacity is something E believed was THE capacity which made people something special.

         Another feature which struck me was how the scientists on the program referred to judgments (my term) as physical characteristics of the brain. I can’t help but think that science may yet vindicate those old Stoics who thought things like Virtue, Vice and judgments themselves were “bodies,” (from a certain point of view of courseJ).

        Regards

        Kevin.

         

        P.S I like the program and recommend it





        Access Yahoo!7 Mail on your mobile. Anytime. Anywhere. Show me how.
      • Michael Paris
        Thanks for the info. about Pies. I ve the book on request from interlibrary loan and look forward to reading it. Speaking of books on neuroplasticity, I have
        Message 3 of 18 , Jul 1 7:27 AM
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          Thanks for the info. about Pies. I've the book on request from interlibrary loan and look forward to reading it.

          Speaking of books on neuroplasticity, I have read and recommend:

            - The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, by Jeffrey M. Schwartz

            - Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves,  by Sharon Begley

          There's been some reasearch about the effects of Buddhist meditation - Insight / Vipassana and Tibetan - on the brain. (Zen seems to have fallen out of fashion in research circles.)

          I wonder if there are brain changes simply from studying and applying philosophy, especially of the ancient variety, where the question of how to live one's life was uppermost.


          Michael



          Stoic Stoic wrote:

          Re: Plasticity,

          There's growing evidence that Stoic / CBT techniques alter the physical structure of the brain.

          I interviewed on psychiatrist, Ronald Pies, who is also a fan of the Stoics (he wrote a book on them called Everything Has Two Handles), and he pointed out research that showed, for example, the metabolic activity of OCD sufferers in their pre-frontal cortex was shown to calm down significantly following CBT treatment.

          All the best,

          Jules

        • Jan Garrett
          I for one have no doubt that when we acquire new ways of thinking, new ways of contextualizing experience and acting in response to the situations that life
          Message 4 of 18 , Jul 1 8:05 AM
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            I for one have no doubt that when we acquire new ways of thinking, new ways of contextualizing experience and acting in response to the situations that life tosses our way, our brains change.  My favorite cognitive linguist George Lakoff has been talking this way for years.  

            For most practical purposes it probably does not matter whether we refer to pathways in the mind or in the brain, though of course pathways, literally speaking, are spatial entities and require a material substrate. But the metaphor of pathways in the mind can be useful too. We can speak about clearing a pathway, building bridges to extend the pathway, frequently going that route, etc., without feeling compelled to confirm such claims with expensive brain scans.

            The ancients (I am thinking especially of Aristotle and the Stoics) referred frequently to dispositions (Aristotle uses the term HEXIS).  The moral virtues are hexeis. So are the intellectual virtues, such as craft-knowledge, philosophical wisdom, and phronesis (roughly=excellence at deliberating and deciding). The moral virtues (and vices) at least are produced through "habituation," or repeated activity.  Of course, when you acquire a new disposition, your brain is changed.  (Aristotle couldn't say that because he wrongly believed that the function of the brain was to cool the body; he thought that the physical instantiation of mental activity was in the vicinity of the heart, although he preserved aspects of Platonism in holding that the intellect itself was immaterial.)

            On Jul 1, 2009, at 9:27 AM, Michael Paris wrote:



            Thanks for the info. about Pies. I've the book on request from interlibrary loan and look forward to reading it.

            Speaking of books on neuroplasticity, I have read and recommend:

              - The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, by Jeffrey M. Schwartz

              - Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves,  by Sharon Begley

            There's been some reasearch about the effects of Buddhist meditation - Insight / Vipassana and Tibetan - on the brain. (Zen seems to have fallen out of fashion in research circles.)

            I wonder if there are brain changes simply from studying and applying philosophy, especially of the ancient variety, where the question of how to live one's life was uppermost. 


            Michael



            Stoic Stoic wrote:

            Re: Plasticity,

            There's growing evidence that Stoic / CBT techniques alter the physical structure of the brain.

            I interviewed on psychiatrist, Ronald Pies, who is also a fan of the Stoics (he wrote a book on them called Everything Has Two Handles), and he pointed out research that showed, for example, the metabolic activity of OCD sufferers in their pre-frontal cortex was shown to calm down significantly following CBT treatment.

            All the best,

            Jules


          • Stoic Stoic
            Hey Leo, Great thanks mate, how are you? Yes, the newsletter s just been put on the website, www.newstoa.com, in the e-newsletter section. It has an interview
            Message 5 of 18 , Jul 1 8:33 AM
            • 0 Attachment
              Hey Leo,

              Great thanks mate, how are you?

              Yes, the newsletter's just been put on the website, www.newstoa..com, in the e-newsletter section. It has an interview with a New York banker (and Stoic) called Arturo Brillembourg.

              All the best,

              Jules



              --- On Wed, 7/1/09, Leo Iermano <leoiermano@...> wrote:

              From: Leo Iermano <leoiermano@...>
              Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
              To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 11:56 AM

              Hi Jules

              How's it going?, no newsletter this month?

              Cheers
              Leo

              --- On Wed, 1/7/09, Stoic Stoic <londonstoic@ yahoo.com> wrote:

              From: Stoic Stoic <londonstoic@ yahoo.com>
              Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
              To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
              Received: Wednesday, 1 July, 2009, 8:26 PM

              Re: Plasticity,

              There's growing evidence that Stoic / CBT techniques alter the physical structure of the brain.

              I interviewed on psychiatrist, Ronald Pies, who is also a fan of the Stoics (he wrote a book on them called Everything Has Two Handles), and he pointed out research that showed, for example, the metabolic activity of OCD sufferers in their pre-frontal cortex was shown to calm down significantly following CBT treatment.

              All the best,

              Jules


              --- On Tue, 6/30/09, Kevin <kevin11_c@yahoo. com> wrote:

              From: Kevin <kevin11_c@yahoo. com>
              Subject: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
              To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
              Date: Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 9:55 PM

              I recently watched a DVD which I rented from Netflix; it was called The Brain Fitness Program produced by PBS. The main theme was what actions folks could take to retard the normal decline of mental functions which occurs with aging.  However there were a couple sub-themes which reminded me of Stoic (particularly Epictetus’) thought. One of the sub-themes was the “plasticity” of the brain.. The ability to form new connections and that determination and enthusiasm enabled us to form new pathways in our own minds. Thought processes or “judgments” are pathways in our mind (actually neurons connected in a certain way). Also repeated use of certain pathways strengthens these pathways; they become well worn and can even form a “rut”. A rut can be a negative consequence of the plastic nature of our brains. Epictetus, at times, reminds us that tending to our judgments and the ability to do so is a Human characteristic, and one which a proper human takes seriously. I am always amazed that we have the capacity to think about thinking, and derive conclusions about ourselves. Is this the genesis for dualistic philosophical and religious thought?  This capacity is something E believed was THE capacity which made people something special.

               Another feature which struck me was how the scientists on the program referred to judgments (my term) as physical characteristics of the brain. I can’t help but think that science may yet vindicate those old Stoics who thought things like Virtue, Vice and judgments themselves were “bodies,” (from a certain point of view of courseJ).

              Regards

              Kevin.

               

              P.S I like the program and recommend it





              Access Yahoo!7 Mail on your mobile. Anytime. Anywhere. Show me how..


            • Stoic Stoic
              Talking of plasticity, David Brooks in the NYT wrote a column on it last week (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/26/opinion/26brooks.html?_r=1) which neatly
              Message 6 of 18 , Jul 1 8:38 AM
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                Talking of plasticity, David Brooks in the NYT wrote a column on it last week
                (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/26/opinion/26brooks.html?_r=1)

                which neatly disagrees with another column he wrote a few weeks previously declaring that philosophy was dead because all our thinking is automatic and therefore not controllable or plastic:

                (www.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/opinion/07Brooks.html )

                A great example of the changeability of human opinions...



                --- On Wed, 7/1/09, Jan Garrett <jan.garrett@...> wrote:

                From: Jan Garrett <jan.garrett@...>
                Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
                Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 4:05 PM

                I for one have no doubt that when we acquire new ways of thinking, new ways of contextualizing experience and acting in response to the situations that life tosses our way, our brains change.  My favorite cognitive linguist George Lakoff has been talking this way for years.  

                For most practical purposes it probably does not matter whether we refer to pathways in the mind or in the brain, though of course pathways, literally speaking, are spatial entities and require a material substrate. But the metaphor of pathways in the mind can be useful too. We can speak about clearing a pathway, building bridges to extend the pathway, frequently going that route, etc., without feeling compelled to confirm such claims with expensive brain scans.

                The ancients (I am thinking especially of Aristotle and the Stoics) referred frequently to dispositions (Aristotle uses the term HEXIS).  The moral virtues are hexeis. So are the intellectual virtues, such as craft-knowledge, philosophical wisdom, and phronesis (roughly=excellence at deliberating and deciding). The moral virtues (and vices) at least are produced through "habituation, " or repeated activity.  Of course, when you acquire a new disposition, your brain is changed.  (Aristotle couldn't say that because he wrongly believed that the function of the brain was to cool the body; he thought that the physical instantiation of mental activity was in the vicinity of the heart, although he preserved aspects of Platonism in holding that the intellect itself was immaterial.)

                On Jul 1, 2009, at 9:27 AM, Michael Paris wrote:



                Thanks for the info. about Pies. I've the book on request from interlibrary loan and look forward to reading it.

                Speaking of books on neuroplasticity, I have read and recommend:

                  - The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, by Jeffrey M. Schwartz

                  - Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves,  by Sharon Begley

                There's been some reasearch about the effects of Buddhist meditation - Insight / Vipassana and Tibetan - on the brain. (Zen seems to have fallen out of fashion in research circles.)

                I wonder if there are brain changes simply from studying and applying philosophy, especially of the ancient variety, where the question of how to live one's life was uppermost. 


                Michael



                Stoic Stoic wrote:

                Re: Plasticity,

                There's growing evidence that Stoic / CBT techniques alter the physical structure of the brain.

                I interviewed on psychiatrist, Ronald Pies, who is also a fan of the Stoics (he wrote a book on them called Everything Has Two Handles), and he pointed out research that showed, for example, the metabolic activity of OCD sufferers in their pre-frontal cortex was shown to calm down significantly following CBT treatment.

                All the best,

                Jules



              • Jan Garrett
                Probably the pathways corresponding to Brooks April 7 opinion are still there, and he could go back to using them. It would take a while and repeated
                Message 7 of 18 , Jul 1 9:23 AM
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                  Probably the pathways corresponding to Brooks' April 7 opinion are still there, and he could go back to using them. It would take a while and repeated deliberate use of the alternate pathway before the old pathway gets covered up with undergrowth and not easily rediscovered. 

                  On Jul 1, 2009, at 10:38 AM, Stoic Stoic wrote:




                  Talking of plasticity, David Brooks in the NYT wrote a column on it last week
                  (http://www. nytimes.com/ 2009/06/26/ opinion/26brooks .html?_r= 1) 

                  which neatly disagrees with another column he wrote a few weeks previously declaring that philosophy was dead because all our thinking is automatic and therefore not controllable or plastic:

                  (www.nytimes. com/2009/ 04/07/opinion/ 07Brooks. html )

                  A great example of the changeability of human opinions...



                  --- On Wed, 7/1/09, Jan Garrett <jan.garrett@ insightbb. com> wrote:

                  From: Jan Garrett <jan.garrett@ insightbb. com>
                  Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                  To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
                  Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 4:05 PM


                  I for one have no doubt that when we acquire new ways of thinking, new ways of contextualizing experience and acting in response to the situations that life tosses our way, our brains change.  My favorite cognitive linguist George Lakoff has been talking this way for years.  

                  For most practical purposes it probably does not matter whether we refer to pathways in the mind or in the brain, though of course pathways, literally speaking, are spatial entities and require a material substrate. But the metaphor of pathways in the mind can be useful too. We can speak about clearing a pathway, building bridges to extend the pathway, frequently going that route, etc., without feeling compelled to confirm such claims with expensive brain scans.

                  The ancients (I am thinking especially of Aristotle and the Stoics) referred frequently to dispositions (Aristotle uses the term HEXIS).  The moral virtues are hexeis. So are the intellectual virtues, such as craft-knowledge, philosophical wisdom, and phronesis (roughly=excellence at deliberating and deciding). The moral virtues (and vices) at least are produced through "habituation, " or repeated activity.  Of course, when you acquire a new disposition, your brain is changed.  (Aristotle couldn't say that because he wrongly believed that the function of the brain was to cool the body; he thought that the physical instantiation of mental activity was in the vicinity of the heart, although he preserved aspects of Platonism in holding that the intellect itself was immaterial.)

                  On Jul 1, 2009, at 9:27 AM, Michael Paris wrote:



                  Thanks for the info. about Pies. I've the book on request from interlibrary loan and look forward to reading it.

                  Speaking of books on neuroplasticity, I have read and recommend:

                    - The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, by Jeffrey M. Schwartz

                    - Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves,  by Sharon Begley

                  There's been some reasearch about the effects of Buddhist meditation - Insight / Vipassana and Tibetan - on the brain. (Zen seems to have fallen out of fashion in research circles.)

                  I wonder if there are brain changes simply from studying and applying philosophy, especially of the ancient variety, where the question of how to live one's life was uppermost. 


                  Michael



                  Stoic Stoic wrote:

                  Re: Plasticity,

                  There's growing evidence that Stoic / CBT techniques alter the physical structure of the brain.

                  I interviewed on psychiatrist, Ronald Pies, who is also a fan of the Stoics (he wrote a book on them called Everything Has Two Handles), and he pointed out research that showed, for example, the metabolic activity of OCD sufferers in their pre-frontal cortex was shown to calm down significantly following CBT treatment.

                  All the best,

                  Jules





                • Michael Marino
                    Guess everybody s too busy. ... From: Leo Iermano Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind To: stoics@yahoogroups.com Date:
                  Message 8 of 18 , Jul 1 9:59 AM
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                      Guess everybody's too busy.

                    --- On Wed, 7/1/09, Leo Iermano <leoiermano@...> wrote:

                    From: Leo Iermano <leoiermano@...>
                    Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                    To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
                    Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 6:56 AM

                    Hi Jules

                    How's it going?, no newsletter this month?

                    Cheers
                    Leo

                    --- On Wed, 1/7/09, Stoic Stoic <londonstoic@ yahoo.com> wrote:

                    From: Stoic Stoic <londonstoic@ yahoo.com>
                    Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                    To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
                    Received: Wednesday, 1 July, 2009, 8:26 PM

                    Re: Plasticity,

                    There's growing evidence that Stoic / CBT techniques alter the physical structure of the brain.

                    I interviewed on psychiatrist, Ronald Pies, who is also a fan of the Stoics (he wrote a book on them called Everything Has Two Handles), and he pointed out research that showed, for example, the metabolic activity of OCD sufferers in their pre-frontal cortex was shown to calm down significantly following CBT treatment.

                    All the best,

                    Jules


                    --- On Tue, 6/30/09, Kevin <kevin11_c@yahoo. com> wrote:

                    From: Kevin <kevin11_c@yahoo. com>
                    Subject: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                    To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
                    Date: Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 9:55 PM

                    I recently watched a DVD which I rented from Netflix; it was called The Brain Fitness Program produced by PBS. The main theme was what actions folks could take to retard the normal decline of mental functions which occurs with aging.  However there were a couple sub-themes which reminded me of Stoic (particularly Epictetus’) thought. One of the sub-themes was the “plasticity” of the brain. The ability to form new connections and that determination and enthusiasm enabled us to form new pathways in our own minds. Thought processes or “judgments” are pathways in our mind (actually neurons connected in a certain way). Also repeated use of certain pathways strengthens these pathways; they become well worn and can even form a “rut”. A rut can be a negative consequence of the plastic nature of our brains. Epictetus, at times, reminds us that tending to our judgments and the ability to do so is a Human characteristic, and one which a proper human takes seriously. I am always amazed that we have the capacity to think about thinking, and derive conclusions about ourselves. Is this the genesis for dualistic philosophical and religious thought?  This capacity is something E believed was THE capacity which made people something special.

                     Another feature which struck me was how the scientists on the program referred to judgments (my term) as physical characteristics of the brain. I can’t help but think that science may yet vindicate those old Stoics who thought things like Virtue, Vice and judgments themselves were “bodies,” (from a certain point of view of courseJ).

                    Regards

                    Kevin.

                     

                    P.S I like the program and recommend it





                    Access Yahoo!7 Mail on your mobile. Anytime. Anywhere. Show me how.

                  • Leo Iermano
                    Hi Jules You know us Stoics are always tranquil!! How s the book coming along? Cheers Leo ... From: Stoic Stoic Subject: Re: [stoics]
                    Message 9 of 18 , Jul 1 1:41 PM
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                      Hi Jules

                      You know us Stoics are always tranquil!!

                      How's the book coming along?

                      Cheers
                      Leo



                      --- On Thu, 2/7/09, Stoic Stoic <londonstoic@...> wrote:

                      From: Stoic Stoic <londonstoic@...>
                      Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                      To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
                      Received: Thursday, 2 July, 2009, 1:33 AM

                      Hey Leo,

                      Great thanks mate, how are you?

                      Yes, the newsletter's just been put on the website, www.newstoa. .com, in the e-newsletter section. It has an interview with a New York banker (and Stoic) called Arturo Brillembourg.

                      All the best,

                      Jules



                      --- On Wed, 7/1/09, Leo Iermano <leoiermano@yahoo. com.au> wrote:

                      From: Leo Iermano <leoiermano@yahoo. com.au>
                      Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                      To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
                      Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 11:56 AM

                      Hi Jules

                      How's it going?, no newsletter this month?

                      Cheers
                      Leo

                      --- On Wed, 1/7/09, Stoic Stoic <londonstoic@ yahoo.com> wrote:

                      From: Stoic Stoic <londonstoic@ yahoo.com>
                      Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                      To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
                      Received: Wednesday, 1 July, 2009, 8:26 PM

                      Re: Plasticity,

                      There's growing evidence that Stoic / CBT techniques alter the physical structure of the brain.

                      I interviewed on psychiatrist, Ronald Pies, who is also a fan of the Stoics (he wrote a book on them called Everything Has Two Handles), and he pointed out research that showed, for example, the metabolic activity of OCD sufferers in their pre-frontal cortex was shown to calm down significantly following CBT treatment.

                      All the best,

                      Jules


                      --- On Tue, 6/30/09, Kevin <kevin11_c@yahoo. com> wrote:

                      From: Kevin <kevin11_c@yahoo. com>
                      Subject: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                      To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
                      Date: Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 9:55 PM

                      I recently watched a DVD which I rented from Netflix; it was called The Brain Fitness Program produced by PBS. The main theme was what actions folks could take to retard the normal decline of mental functions which occurs with aging.  However there were a couple sub-themes which reminded me of Stoic (particularly Epictetus’) thought. One of the sub-themes was the “plasticity” of the brain.. The ability to form new connections and that determination and enthusiasm enabled us to form new pathways in our own minds. Thought processes or “judgments” are pathways in our mind (actually neurons connected in a certain way). Also repeated use of certain pathways strengthens these pathways; they become well worn and can even form a “rut”. A rut can be a negative consequence of the plastic nature of our brains. Epictetus, at times, reminds us that tending to our judgments and the ability to do so is a Human characteristic, and one which a proper human takes seriously. I am always amazed that we have the capacity to think about thinking, and derive conclusions about ourselves. Is this the genesis for dualistic philosophical and religious thought?  This capacity is something E believed was THE capacity which made people something special.

                       Another feature which struck me was how the scientists on the program referred to judgments (my term) as physical characteristics of the brain. I can’t help but think that science may yet vindicate those old Stoics who thought things like Virtue, Vice and judgments themselves were “bodies,” (from a certain point of view of courseJ).

                      Regards

                      Kevin.

                       

                      P.S I like the program and recommend it





                      Access Yahoo!7 Mail on your mobile. Anytime. Anywhere. Show me how..




                      Access Yahoo!7 Mail on your mobile. Anytime. Anywhere. Show me how.
                    • Kevin
                      Jan:   It would take a while and repeated deliberate use of the alternate pathway before the old pathway gets covered up with undergrowth and not easily
                      Message 10 of 18 , Jul 1 2:41 PM
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                        Jan:
                         
                        It would take a while and repeated deliberate use of the alternate pathway before the old pathway gets covered up with undergrowth and not easily rediscovered
                         
                        Yes, I wonder if they can ever be totally removed. Like a long time ex-smoker can always go back to smoking.
                         
                        Kevin
                         

                        --- On Wed, 7/1/09, Jan Garrett <jan.garrett@...> wrote:


                        From: Jan Garrett <jan.garrett@...>
                        Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                        To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
                        Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 12:23 PM









                        Probably the pathways corresponding to Brooks' April 7 opinion are still there, and he could go back to using them. It would take a while and repeated deliberate use of the alternate pathway before the old pathway gets covered up with undergrowth and not easily rediscovered. 


                        On Jul 1, 2009, at 10:38 AM, Stoic Stoic wrote:













                        Talking of plasticity, David Brooks in the NYT wrote a column on it last week
                        (http://www. nytimes.com/ 2009/06/26/ opinion/26brooks .html?_r= 1) 

                        which neatly disagrees with another column he wrote a few weeks previously declaring that philosophy was dead because all our thinking is automatic and therefore not controllable or plastic:

                        (www.nytimes. com/2009/ 04/07/opinion/ 07Brooks. html )

                        A great example of the changeability of human opinions...



                        --- On Wed, 7/1/09, Jan Garrett <jan.garrett@ insightbb. com> wrote:


                        From: Jan Garrett <jan.garrett@ insightbb. com>
                        Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                        To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
                        Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 4:05 PM






                        I for one have no doubt that when we acquire new ways of thinking, new ways of contextualizing experience and acting in response to the situations that life tosses our way, our brains change.  My favorite cognitive linguist George Lakoff has been talking this way for years.  


                        For most practical purposes it probably does not matter whether we refer to pathways in the mind or in the brain, though of course pathways, literally speaking, are spatial entities and require a material substrate. But the metaphor of pathways in the mind can be useful too. We can speak about clearing a pathway, building bridges to extend the pathway, frequently going that route, etc., without feeling compelled to confirm such claims with expensive brain scans.


                        The ancients (I am thinking especially of Aristotle and the Stoics) referred frequently to dispositions (Aristotle uses the term HEXIS).  The moral virtues are hexeis. So are the intellectual virtues, such as craft-knowledge, philosophical wisdom, and phronesis (roughly=excellence at deliberating and deciding). The moral virtues (and vices) at least are produced through "habituation, " or repeated activity.  Of course, when you acquire a new disposition, your brain is changed.  (Aristotle couldn't say that because he wrongly believed that the function of the brain was to cool the body; he thought that the physical instantiation of mental activity was in the vicinity of the heart, although he preserved aspects of Platonism in holding that the intellect itself was immaterial.)


                        On Jul 1, 2009, at 9:27 AM, Michael Paris wrote:








                        Thanks for the info. about Pies. I've the book on request from interlibrary loan and look forward to reading it.

                        Speaking of books on neuroplasticity, I have read and recommend:

                          - The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, by Jeffrey M. Schwartz

                          - Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves,  by Sharon Begley

                        There's been some reasearch about the effects of Buddhist meditation - Insight / Vipassana and Tibetan - on the brain. (Zen seems to have fallen out of fashion in research circles.)

                        I wonder if there are brain changes simply from studying and applying philosophy, especially of the ancient variety, where the question of how to live one's life was uppermost. 


                        Michael



                        Stoic Stoic wrote:

                        Re: Plasticity,

                        There's growing evidence that Stoic / CBT techniques alter the physical structure of the brain.

                        I interviewed on psychiatrist, Ronald Pies, who is also a fan of the Stoics (he wrote a book on them called Everything Has Two Handles), and he pointed out research that showed, for example, the metabolic activity of OCD sufferers in their pre-frontal cortex was shown to calm down significantly following CBT treatment.

                        All the best,

                        Jules






















                      • Grant Sterling
                        ... Of course, I m skeptical. Science cannot demonstrate that judgments (or beliefs, or anything else) _are_ physical characteristics of the brain. It can,
                        Message 11 of 18 , Jul 1 3:48 PM
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                          >  Another feature which struck me was how the scientists on the program referred to judgments (my term) as physical characteristics of the brain. I can’t help but think that science may yet vindicate those old Stoics who thought things like Virtue, Vice and judgments themselves were “bodies,” (from a certain point of view of courseJ).

                          Of course, I'm skeptical. Science cannot demonstrate that
                          judgments (or beliefs, or anything else) _are_ physical
                          characteristics of the brain. It can, at best, demonstrate
                          that there are physical correlates of our judgments. For
                          example, the experience of pain may occur when c-fibers
                          fire, but that doesn't show that pain _is_ the firing of
                          c-fibers.

                          > Regards
                          > Kevin.

                          Regards,
                          Grant
                        • Kevin
                          So then you accept that neuron x firing is experienced as judgment x?   Kevin ... From: Grant Sterling Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in
                          Message 12 of 18 , Jul 1 5:29 PM
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                            So then you accept that neuron x firing is experienced as judgment x?
                             
                            Kevin
                            --- On Wed, 7/1/09, Grant Sterling <gcsterling@...> wrote:

                            From: Grant Sterling <gcsterling@...>
                            Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                            To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
                            Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 6:48 PM

                            >  Another feature which struck me was how the scientists on the program referred to judgments (my term) as physical characteristics of the brain. I can’t help but think that science may yet vindicate those old Stoics who thought things like Virtue, Vice and judgments themselves were “bodies,” (from a certain point of view of courseJ).

                            Of course, I'm skeptical. Science cannot demonstrate that
                            judgments (or beliefs, or anything else) _are_ physical
                            characteristics of the brain. It can, at best, demonstrate
                            that there are physical correlates of our judgments. For
                            example, the experience of pain may occur when c-fibers
                            fire, but that doesn't show that pain _is_ the firing of
                            c-fibers.

                            > Regards
                            > Kevin.

                            Regards,
                            Grant

                          • Grant Sterling
                            ... Well, that makes it sound as if the neuron firing is somehow the real event, and the judgment is just our perspective on it, and it makes it sound as
                            Message 13 of 18 , Jul 1 7:49 PM
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                              ----- Kevin <kevin11_c@...> wrote:
                              > So then you accept that neuron x firing is experienced as judgment x?
                              >  
                              > Kevin

                              Well, that makes it sound as if the neuron firing is
                              somehow the "real" event, and the judgment is just our
                              perspective on it, and it makes it sound as though
                              the neural firing is logically and perhaps temporally
                              prior and the experience subsequent. I would reject
                              both of those claims. (And you can't use 'x' in both
                              places, since the content of my judgment is not a characteristic
                              of a neural firing.)
                              I will agree that when I make judgment x, there is something
                              going on in my central nervous system (typically the firing of
                              several neurons), and that scientists can in principle
                              discover these correlations so that they could in some sense
                              "read my mind". (If, as some people claim, science requires
                              methodological materialism, then my claim above is false,
                              since these correlations can only be discovered by asking
                              people to report on their introspective awareness of the
                              content of their experiences, and this on my view violates
                              the principles of materialism--that is, the people discovering
                              the correlations could not be doing science. I think that
                              view of science is mistaken, though.)

                              I'm sure that was a much more complex answer than you
                              wanted. Sorry. :)

                              Regards,
                              Grant
                            • Steve Marquis
                              Grant writes: ____________   I will agree that when I make judgment x, there is something going on in my central nervous system (typically the firing of
                              Message 14 of 18 , Jul 1 9:36 PM
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                                Grant writes:

                                ____________

                                 

                                I will agree that when I make judgment x, there is something going on in my central nervous system (typically the firing of several neurons), and that scientists can in principle discover these correlations . . .

                                ____________

                                 

                                Grant is careful with his use of terms; ‘correlation’ and not ‘causation’ and I agree with his caution in assuming what proceeds what which is why he’s not using the stronger ‘causation’.  In the desire to reduce everything to (modern) physics we must be careful with that desire or more can be read into observation than is there.  We must make honest use of the scientific method and not assume facts not in evidence.

                                 

                                I might further ask how these scientists do the correlating.  How does a particular measurement of nervous system activity get mapped to purported subjective experience states?  Is not this correspondence dependent on the subject being observed reporting his or her subjective state?  How can that be concluded as a ‘cause’ one way or the other?  In the case of emotion especially are we not absconding with a term that has a traditional history of describing certain mental subjective states (one word game) and assigning it with a reference to some physical measurable activity (a second different word game) without a solid basis for the supposed correspondence between the subjective state previously used as the only reference and what some one is physically measuring now?  Isn’t this equivocation?  After all, we have the two terms ‘mind’ and ‘brain’ that make this distinction quite clear even if ‘mind’ ends up in the end as only a convenient way to talk about nonexistent mental phenomena.

                                 

                                I don’t support a clear dualism like Descartes’ on the one hand but I don’t buy physical essentialism on the other hand either.  I am in the middle along with the Stoics (Stoic materialism and modern physicalism I think are different).  Self aware consciousness has not yet been fully understood IMO and if we rush to jam it into a favored paradigm it will continue to remain elusive.

                                 

                                Live well,

                                Steve

                              • Stoic Stoic
                                Coming along, Leo, coming along. I ll post some more chapters on my blog soon, would be great to get your feedback. All the best Jules ... From: Leo Iermano
                                Message 15 of 18 , Jul 2 2:21 AM
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                                  Coming along, Leo, coming along.

                                  I'll post some more chapters on my blog soon, would be great to get your feedback.

                                  All the best

                                  Jules

                                  --- On Wed, 7/1/09, Leo Iermano <leoiermano@...> wrote:

                                  From: Leo Iermano <leoiermano@...>
                                  Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                                  To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
                                  Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 9:41 PM

                                  Hi Jules

                                  You know us Stoics are always tranquil!!

                                  How's the book coming along?

                                  Cheers
                                  Leo



                                  --- On Thu, 2/7/09, Stoic Stoic <londonstoic@ yahoo.com> wrote:

                                  From: Stoic Stoic <londonstoic@ yahoo.com>
                                  Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                                  To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
                                  Received: Thursday, 2 July, 2009, 1:33 AM

                                  Hey Leo,

                                  Great thanks mate, how are you?

                                  Yes, the newsletter's just been put on the website, www.newstoa. .com, in the e-newsletter section. It has an interview with a New York banker (and Stoic) called Arturo Brillembourg.

                                  All the best,

                                  Jules



                                  --- On Wed, 7/1/09, Leo Iermano <leoiermano@yahoo. com.au> wrote:

                                  From: Leo Iermano <leoiermano@yahoo. com.au>
                                  Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                                  To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
                                  Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 11:56 AM

                                  Hi Jules

                                  How's it going?, no newsletter this month?

                                  Cheers
                                  Leo

                                  --- On Wed, 1/7/09, Stoic Stoic <londonstoic@ yahoo.com> wrote:

                                  From: Stoic Stoic <londonstoic@ yahoo.com>
                                  Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                                  To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
                                  Received: Wednesday, 1 July, 2009, 8:26 PM

                                  Re: Plasticity,

                                  There's growing evidence that Stoic / CBT techniques alter the physical structure of the brain.

                                  I interviewed on psychiatrist, Ronald Pies, who is also a fan of the Stoics (he wrote a book on them called Everything Has Two Handles), and he pointed out research that showed, for example, the metabolic activity of OCD sufferers in their pre-frontal cortex was shown to calm down significantly following CBT treatment.

                                  All the best,

                                  Jules


                                  --- On Tue, 6/30/09, Kevin <kevin11_c@yahoo. com> wrote:

                                  From: Kevin <kevin11_c@yahoo. com>
                                  Subject: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                                  To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
                                  Date: Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 9:55 PM

                                  I recently watched a DVD which I rented from Netflix; it was called The Brain Fitness Program produced by PBS. The main theme was what actions folks could take to retard the normal decline of mental functions which occurs with aging.  However there were a couple sub-themes which reminded me of Stoic (particularly Epictetus’) thought. One of the sub-themes was the “plasticity” of the brain.. The ability to form new connections and that determination and enthusiasm enabled us to form new pathways in our own minds. Thought processes or “judgments” are pathways in our mind (actually neurons connected in a certain way). Also repeated use of certain pathways strengthens these pathways; they become well worn and can even form a “rut”. A rut can be a negative consequence of the plastic nature of our brains. Epictetus, at times, reminds us that tending to our judgments and the ability to do so is a Human characteristic, and one which a proper human takes seriously. I am always amazed that we have the capacity to think about thinking, and derive conclusions about ourselves. Is this the genesis for dualistic philosophical and religious thought?  This capacity is something E believed was THE capacity which made people something special.

                                   Another feature which struck me was how the scientists on the program referred to judgments (my term) as physical characteristics of the brain. I can’t help but think that science may yet vindicate those old Stoics who thought things like Virtue, Vice and judgments themselves were “bodies,” (from a certain point of view of courseJ).

                                  Regards

                                  Kevin.

                                   

                                  P.S I like the program and recommend it





                                  Access Yahoo!7 Mail on your mobile. Anytime. Anywhere. Show me how..




                                  Access Yahoo!7 Mail on your mobile. Anytime. Anywhere. Show me how.


                                • Kevin
                                  On the contrary I like a complex answer as long as it isn t too compact making it difficult for me to follow, or at least know what topics I need to explore
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Jul 2 10:41 AM
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                                    On the contrary I like a complex answer as long as it isn't too compact making it difficult for me to follow, or at least know what topics I need to explore further.
                                     
                                    I may spend some time on your response and follow up later. I'm going on vacation so it may be a couple weeks.
                                     
                                    Regards
                                    Kevin

                                    --- On Wed, 7/1/09, Grant Sterling <gcsterling@...> wrote:

                                    From: Grant Sterling <gcsterling@...>
                                    Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                                    To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
                                    Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 10:49 PM


                                    ----- Kevin <kevin11_c@yahoo. com> wrote:
                                    > So then you accept that neuron x firing is experienced as judgment x?
                                    >  
                                    > Kevin

                                    Well, that makes it sound as if the neuron firing is
                                    somehow the "real" event, and the judgment is just our
                                    perspective on it, and it makes it sound as though
                                    the neural firing is logically and perhaps temporally
                                    prior and the experience subsequent. I would reject
                                    both of those claims. (And you can't use 'x' in both
                                    places, since the content of my judgment is not a characteristic
                                    of a neural firing.)
                                    I will agree that when I make judgment x, there is something
                                    going on in my central nervous system (typically the firing of
                                    several neurons), and that scientists can in principle
                                    discover these correlations so that they could in some sense
                                    "read my mind". (If, as some people claim, science requires
                                    methodological materialism, then my claim above is false,
                                    since these correlations can only be discovered by asking
                                    people to report on their introspective awareness of the
                                    content of their experiences, and this on my view violates
                                    the principles of materialism- -that is, the people discovering
                                    the correlations could not be doing science. I think that
                                    view of science is mistaken, though.)

                                    I'm sure that was a much more complex answer than you
                                    wanted. Sorry. :)

                                    Regards,
                                    Grant

                                  • Kevin
                                    Grant,   It seems to me that to in order to derive a correlation between electrochemical activity in the brain and various cognitive states one must
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Jul 4 7:51 PM
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                                      Grant,
                                       
                                      It seems to me that to in order to derive a correlation between electrochemical activity in the brain and various cognitive states one must interview people about there cognitive states so in this case methodological materialism must be amended or ignored.
                                       
                                      I think it is a proven fact that cognitive states are linked in some way to brain activity. Electroshock therapy shows this. In this case the ability to think or not is simply a matter of voltage.
                                       
                                      Regards
                                       
                                      Kevin
                                       
                                      P.S. Happy fourth of July everyone
                                       


                                      --- On Wed, 7/1/09, Grant Sterling <gcsterling@...> wrote:

                                      From: Grant Sterling <gcsterling@...>
                                      Subject: Re: [stoics] Pathways in the mind
                                      To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
                                      Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 10:49 PM


                                      ----- Kevin <kevin11_c@yahoo. com> wrote:
                                      > So then you accept that neuron x firing is experienced as judgment x?
                                      >  
                                      > Kevin

                                      Well, that makes it sound as if the neuron firing is
                                      somehow the "real" event, and the judgment is just our
                                      perspective on it, and it makes it sound as though
                                      the neural firing is logically and perhaps temporally
                                      prior and the experience subsequent. I would reject
                                      both of those claims. (And you can't use 'x' in both
                                      places, since the content of my judgment is not a characteristic
                                      of a neural firing.)
                                      I will agree that when I make judgment x, there is something
                                      going on in my central nervous system (typically the firing of
                                      several neurons), and that scientists can in principle
                                      discover these correlations so that they could in some sense
                                      "read my mind". (If, as some people claim, science requires
                                      methodological materialism, then my claim above is false,
                                      since these correlations can only be discovered by asking
                                      people to report on their introspective awareness of the
                                      content of their experiences, and this on my view violates
                                      the principles of materialism- -that is, the people discovering
                                      the correlations could not be doing science. I think that
                                      view of science is mistaken, though.)

                                      I'm sure that was a much more complex answer than you
                                      wanted. Sorry. :)

                                      Regards,
                                      Grant

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