I'm not convinced that qualia is only a mental phenomenon, rather (as per Damasio) "mental states appear to be deeply embodied and cannot be accounted for without considering the reciprocal influences between the body and its surroundings".Consul wrote: ↑January 6th, 2019, 12:26 amThe brain is literally embodied. As I said, as an organ the brain is part of an organism—which is more than just a "brain-vat"—and not an organism itself. However, the brain is the (one and only) organ of consciousness, the (one and only) qualia factory. This is not to say that the brain is an isolated organ independent of and uninfluenced by extracerebral or extracorporeal factors or signals, but only that (the field of) conciousness is generated by and located in the brain, and by nothing else and nowhere else in the organism.
Here are quotes by Antonio Damasio that I just present for consideration. (Note that he agrees that "mental events are the result of activity in the brain's neurons", and that "the nervous system is the enabler of our mental life"!)
Here I think it's instructive to consider the original relationship of brain and body in gestation. In a blastocyst the (inner) endoderm will grow to become the metabolic organs that handle energy throughput. The mesoderm (middle) becomes the structural support and physical strength - bones, muscles and ligaments. The ectoderm becomes the skin, nervous system and brains. So our physical and mental states are precisely matched - the brain, like consciousness, is literally the outside brought inside.
I like it.Consul wrote: ↑January 6th, 2019, 12:26 am"We are commonly given accounts of mental life—of perceptions, feelings, ideas, of the memories with which perceptions and ideas can be recorded, of imagination and reasoning, of the words used to translate internal narratives, inventions, and so forth—as if they were the exclusive product of brains. The nervous system is often the hero of these accounts, both an oversimplification and a misunderstanding. It is as if the body were a mere bystander, a support for the nervous system, the vat in which the brain fits.
That the nervous system is the enabler of our mental life is not in doubt. What is missing from the traditional neuro-centric, brain-centric, and even cerebral-cortex-centric accounts is the fact that nervous systems began their existence as assistants to the body, as coordinators of the life process in bodies complex and diversified enough that the functional articulation of tissues, organs, and systems as well as their relation to the environment required a dedicated system to accomplish the coordination. Nervous systems were the means to achieve that coordination and thus became an indispensable feature of complex multicellular life.
A more sensible account of our mental life is that both its simple aspects and its extraordinary achievements are partial by-products of a nervous system that delivers, at a very complex physiological level, what simpler life-forms have long been delivering without nervous systems: homeostatic regulation. On the way to accomplishing the principal task of making life possible in a complex body, nervous systems developed strategies, mechanisms, and abilities that not only took care of vital homeostatic needs but also produced many other results. Those other results were either not immediately necessary for life regulation or less clearly related to it. Minds depend on the presence of nervous systems charged with helping run life efficiently, in their respective bodies, and on a host of interactions of nervous systems and bodies. 'No body, never mind.' Our organism contains a body, a nervous system, and a mind that derives from both."
(Damasio, Antonio. The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures. New York: Pantheon, 2018. pp. 65-6)