This is a common misunderstanding. Humanity transcends neither nature nor the Earth, but remains a part of each. The human capacity to self-analyse is an extension of nature. An innovation rather than transcendence. Nature includes all of the cosmos, otherwise where do we stop? The Earth? The Sun? The Milky Way? The Virgo Supercluster? Laniakea?Nick_A wrote: ↑Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:16 amIn his upcoming book An Unknown World: Notes on the Meaning of the Earth, Jacob Needleman discusses “an entirely new kind of relationship between consciousness and nature, between consciousness and the earth, between consciousness and the human body here, now, in our lives.
What Descartes is showing us is something dramatically different from how he has been interpreted: He is showing us that in the capacity of the mind to concentrate its attention toward itself in pure thought—in that capacity there is a central element of Man that is not merely separate from nature, but beyond nature! Beyond earth!
What Descartes is offering is not more or less than the idea of the holy spirit expressed not in religious language, but in the language of the independent human mind, the aspect of man that is, in inception, in its embryonic form, beyond the created world of nature, beyond the earth.”
In evolutionary terms the ability to self analyse is the capacity to control one's conditioning (to some extent). This allows for exponential development as a conditioned person is better able to condition further. Self-improving AI will undergo similar exponential development.
As things stand, I think the answer to your question is that the brain is a processor, not a creator as such, but it plays a role in its creation. Each person's thought stream is largely undirected. My thought stream is not "mine" as such, but a conveyor belt of ideas that if gifted to me from which I choose thoughts based on what captures my attention. As a would-be writer, I am well aware that "my" ideas are not mine; they only come because I opened myself up sufficiently to notice them.
The thought stream is the product of constant sensory input and processing by the brain, and very likely is significantly shaped by metabolic organs as well. The brain itself does not create consciousness. Thus the brain in a vat thought experiment could not work in reality.
The core of our being is the metabolism and brains evolved to protect that life. Without a brain, metabolisms are defenceless and unable to exploit opportunities. Without a metabolism a brain has no job, no point. You not only need an integrated metabolism and a brain to make a mind, but also an environment (father, son and holy ghost?).
Since consciousness is a whole body phenomenon is dependent on environmental inputs, I see the brain as a filter and "translator" of consciousness rather than a generator. Gut, brain and stimuli are all essential components. A mind without stimulation is like a gut without food - in each instance, in lieu of input they consume themselves. Imagine yourself as a Descartian disembodied mind, but within utter nothingness as is sometimes reported during the early part of NDEs when the senses shut down. With nothing to draw upon there would be only memories. If left in that state for long enough there would only be memories of memories, which would be the only new memories one could form in that situation. Eventually the mind would simply disintegrate; it would seek only silence.
The brain's filtering work is underestimated. Reality without that filtering and shaping would not be pleasant. It would basically be blinding white light, overwhelming noise and searing heat. Our brains take the wild chaos of various forces and energies around us and shape it into a form which must have helped our ancestors (and theirs ad infinitum) to reproduce. People who recover from near death sometimes return with damaged filters and report such horrific, untempered sensations until the brain thankfully normalises after the trauma.