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3/13/09

Music, Emotion, and Memory

Music points to the role emotion plays in memories. You are driving home from work and you hear a song on the radio. Suddenly, memories come flooding back of your first date, or your first prom, and there you are, seemingly in another time as your hands guide the steering wheel down the road. The neuroscientist would tell you that for all your nostalgia, these are bio-chemical tags in your brain. The more the bio-chemistry, the more powerful the feeling. Read at Discover. The article is quite interesting. It reminds me of that old quantum physics question: how can particles be waves, and waves, particles? How can feelings and memory be chemistry and chemistry be feelings and memory? The short answer, for me anyway, is that reductionism can bring us to understandings but also to quandaries. The parts are not the whole.

Put it differently: sound waves vibrate my ear drums, a form of bio-mechanical engineering. I don't sense any of that. I hear music. In the passage from brain to mind, we may be looking for a physical link that does not exist. Could the consciousness we perceive as mind be as fundamental as gravity? Gravity is an emergent property from mass (substrate particles). Is consciousness an emergent property from some substrata as yet unidentified? This still leaves the world of our feelings unexplained. I believe it will remain so. Rather like the eyes, which see as a kind of cyclops, trying to visually perceive themselves as two.

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