• Don Wade
    185
    The eye and brain seem to work well together - but which came first - the eye, or the brain? Or, did they develop at the same time as a part of each other?
  • spirit-salamander
    147
    I think both the optic nerve and the neurons of the brain belong to the total nervous system of the organism. Because the optic nerve, like the sense of touch, is the access to the outside world and the brain is the external world data processing entity. Therefore, neither can precede the other in development. Both have developed simultaneously.

    An interesting question would be where the color qualia take place. In the eye or in the brain?
  • counterpunch
    1.6k
    The brain came first. It is possible to have a central nervous system without eyes, but not possible to have eyes without a central nervous system.
  • spirit-salamander
    147
    Phylogenetically you are right, but ontogentically, concerning humans, maybe not.
  • counterpunch
    1.6k
    Phylogenetically you are right, but ontogentically, concerning humans, maybe not.spirit-salamander

    Any organism that has eyes has a brain, including our primitive ancestors. We had eyes before we had intellectual intelligence, that's true, but interestingly, there's no increase in cranial capacity evident at the point in time where human artefacts demonstrate the sudden occurrence of truly human intelligence. Cave painting, burial of the dead, jewellery, improved tools etc.
  • DingoJones
    2.4k
    Your eye IS your brain. Human eyes literally grow out from the brain as it develops. Your eyes and brain are essentially the same organ so its not a matter of which came first.
  • Don Wade
    185
    This is the sort of question I begin to ask. How did the eye-brain connection take place? Why would either one communicate with the other - especially if one didn't know the other existed. Is there a reason why nerves would grow from one to the other? The eye didn't have a brain, and the brain didn't have an eye - so, which one grew the nerves first? Or, as Dingo says:
    Your eye IS your brain.DingoJones
  • Don Wade
    185
    Therefore, neither can precede the other in development. Both have developed simultaneously.spirit-salamander

    Then would either anticipate the need for the other?
  • spirit-salamander
    147
    Then would either anticipate the need for the other?Don Wade

    Good difficult question. Maybe not. Basically, the retina itself is like a small brain and the brain by itself is like a sense that can respond to stimuli. So both are of the same essence, but in humans they operate together for complex external world perception. The cooperation has been laid down in the genetic blueprint.

    How the development and the interaction of both looks like might be observed empirically at the example of animals with a special microscope camera. [edit: corrected some wording mistakes]
  • Don Wade
    185
    The brain came first. It is possible to have a central nervous system without eyes, but not possible to have eyes without a central nervous system.counterpunch

    In a single-cell animal - does the DNA speak to itself?
  • DingoJones
    2.4k


    Your eyes are pieces of your brain. They did not connect with each other at some point in our evolution. The brain grows, and part of it grows into the eye sockets and becomes your eyes.
  • Don Wade
    185
    When a single-cell splits - do they still communicate?
  • spirit-salamander
    147
    Then would either anticipate the need for the other?Don Wade

    You can also bring in the fringe science here, and say that both always operate within a morphogenetic field (Rupert Sheldrake) that provides unification and communication between the two.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.3k


    You may think that I am opposing you, in what I am saying against reductive explanations, and I am not really trying to do that, because I come with some history of eye disorder. A few years ago I had headaches, after a period of stress. I went to an optician who picked up some underlying retinal disorders. I was referred to an eye clinic, and given a possible diagnosis of Coates disease. I researched this, which is a genetic disorder, rare but most common in males under 10 years old. I am an adult, so was rather puzzled, and I have been discharged as my eyesight is stable.

    I am interested in what the eyes say about the brain and the mind, but I think that it is complex because the retina is part of a brain.I wonder if the eye problems which were picked up were connected to all the reading and thinking which I do. The eyes and the brain are part of the apparatus of our thinking, and perhaps they become overwhelmed and overloaded at times, but perhaps this needs to be seen in a wider scope of mind.
    .
  • Don Wade
    185
    I am interested in what the eyes say about the brain and the mind, but I think that it is complex because the retina is part of a brain.I wonder if the eye problems which were picked up were connected to all the reading and thinking which I do. The eyes and the brain are part of the apparatus of our thinking, and perhaps they become overwhelmed and overloaded at times, but perhaps this needs to be seen in a wider scope of mind.Jack Cummins

    Jack, as always, I really appreciate your thoughts and comments. Thinking is complex! Thinking philosophically seems to be a lot more complex - but, is enjoyable. I wish you well in your quest for understanding, and your postings seems to indicate you may also enjoy philosophy.

    The eye-brain system that we enjoy as humans fascinates me and I "see" a lot of questions. Many of the questions have been around since philosophy first started.
  • Pop
    914
    The eye and brain seem to work well together - but which came first - the eye, or the brain? Or, did they develop at the same time as a part of each other?Don Wade

    You might find this interesting.
  • Don Wade
    185
    You might find this interesting.Pop

    Very useful information. Thanks! Now, as usual, a whole bunch of new questions.
  • Pop
    914
    Now, as usual, a whole bunch of new questions.Don Wade

    Yeah, sorry about that, but I think it is better to ask these questions sooner rather then later - once your mind is already made up. I think it provides a really good view of how all the functions are present at a very fundamental stage, and then they evolve together.
  • TheMadFool
    10.7k
    Of questionable veracity is the claim that there are unicellular organisms, brainless as it were, that are phototropic phototactic.
  • Don Wade
    185
    A single-cell seems to be able to find all kinds of ways to communicate, or find food/sex. I study "Levels", and in levels, communication can happen between cells - as well as higher-level animals (made up of cells). However, the different levels don't seem to communicate.
  • Pantagruel
    1.7k
    I have an excellent article somewhere on the eye-brain mechanics of the frog's eye - I'll try to find it and post a link

    Here tis. I remember when I read it getting a clear picture that the boundaries of cognition are definitely outside of the brain and nervous system.....

    https://courses.cit.cornell.edu/bionb4240/Reprints/Lettvin_Maturana_McCulloch%20and%20Pitts_1959.pdf
  • Pop
    914
    ↪Pop A single-cell seems to be able to find all kinds of ways to communicate, or find food/sex. I study "Levels", and in levels, communication can happen between cells - as well as higher-level animals (made up of cells). However, the different levels don't seem to communicate.Don Wade

    I'm glad you have honed in on the central issue - what causes the integrity of these creatures? Traditionally it has been generally assumed that something central must coordinate all these functions, but on closer inspection no such thing exists ( in physical form at least ). So traditional analytical reductionism is of no use. Science , across the whole spectrum. turns to systems theory to try and understand it. They speak in terms of layers ( I assume this is what you mean by levels ). Systems theory can analyze gross patterns where no particular microscopic pattern can be discerned. What i have gathered of it is that at each layer there exists a synergy that coordinates the organism and gives rise to functional self organization.

    The basis of self organization is not yet discernible The leading explanation is that simple energy fluctuations give rise to ultimate self organization, where the gross function is considered an emergent property. Self organization is a property of the gross organism, but also of all of its components . This understanding is the basis for the embodied movement , whose leading exponents are Maturana, Verala, Thompson, and Capra. Their mantra is; " Living systems are cognitive systems, and living as a process is a process of cognition. This statement is valid for all organisms, with or without a nervous system."

    Capra goes further and states that " cognition is a reaction to a disturbance in a state ". In saying this he is not necessarily referring to an organism.

    As for communication between layers. It is a bottom up causation, so this is a form of communication. Recent research suggests brain structure changes somewhat in line with new thinking. Lifestyle also causes epigenetics to turn some genes off and others on. I'm pretty sure there would be other feedback loops.
  • Don Wade
    185
    Traditionally it has been generally assumed that something central must coordinate all these functions, but on closer inspection no such thing exists ( in physical form at least ). So traditional analytical reductionism is of no use. Science , across the whole spectrum. turns to systems theory to try and understand it.Pop

    Close, but not quite there. What I believe happens is that we (humans) create the so-called systems (reductionism). Example: The "forest" is a group of trees, not a real seperate item. Humans create the concept of forest insead of group-of-trees. Then we speak in terms of forest as if the forest actually existed. We (humans) do that a lot. That function is actually a process of our mind called "grouping". Our mind(s) can only handle a specific number (below 10) of items at any specific time - so, the mind seperates a large group of items into more manageable small groups - such as a large group of trees becomes a forest (not a large group of trees). Then, on top of that, our minds changes "focus". And we think of a forest as a single item - while, at the same time, (forgetting the group of trees) - to focus on the forest. Levels is a mental process that allows us to recognize, both the group of trees - and the forest - at the same time. (Not forget one just to focus on the other.) It does take some mental training to do that but it gives one a new insight on: "What is existence?". Note: That's not metaphysical - it's just a mental process.
  • Pop
    914
    Humans create the concept of forest insead of group-of-trees. Then we speak in terms of forest as if the forest actually existed.Don Wade

    Perhaps a Forrest is not the ideal analogy to make your point. Forests are different to trees in the same way that cells are different to organs. In ecology a forest is called an ecological community- the members of the community are interdependent - exchanging nutrients, and resources even communicating. I live in a swamp schlerophyll ecological community ( forrest ). The trees and plants that are members of the community always occur together, and they exclude other plant species that are not part of their community.

    The largest organism in the world has survived relatively unnoticed within the Fishlake National Forest in Utah. Now, researchers are concerned that this organism, 1,000's of years old, is dying. The organism is named Pando, Latin for I spread, and is a massive grove of quaking aspens.

    You seem to be to be trying to articulate how consciousness groups things, and then saying the groupings are what the things being grouped become? Yes there is an element of that occurring. Piaget's constructivism is a good example of how knowledge is accumulated, and then how that knowledge becomes the world via an idealist paradigm. No doubt the nature of consciousness ( both it's content and it's structure ) places a limitation on our perception of the world.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.6k
    At least the retina, optic nerve, and brain are the same system.

    Is the relationship between the ears (the essential sensory part, not the floppy exterior) the same as the brain? Eyes and brain may have a longer lineage than ear and brain--maybe. The bones of the inner ear were once working parts of the jaw. Over a couple of generations they shrank and migrated rearward and found something new to do with themselves. (As told in Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin. good book

    It seems to me I read that "eyes" were 'invented' in primitive animals as a few cells that could respond to light. Whether they made a difference to the creature by informing a central nervous system of the dawn's early light, or whether they emitted a chemical signal, don't remember.
  • Pop
    914
    It seems to me I read that "eyes" were 'invented' in primitive animals as a few cells that could respond to light. Whether they made a difference to the creature by informing a central nervous system of the dawn's early light, or whether they emitted a chemical signal, don't remember.Bitter Crank

    In the absence of a brain and nervous system what is causing them to self organize?

    This article is relevant to the question.
  • Don Wade
    185
    You seem to be to be trying to articulate how consciousness groups things, and then saying the groupings are what the things being grouped become? Yes there is an element of that occurring. Piaget's constructivism is a good example of how knowledge is accumulated, and then how that knowledge becomes the world via an idealist paradigm. No doubt the nature of consciousness ( both it's content and it's structure ) places a limitation on our perception of the world.Pop

    This is a good example of how one may group information, but "levels" is hierarchical groupings. That is, the various groupings the brain creates are not all on the same level - and can exist in the same place and at the same time as other groupings. Individual items cannot do that. Example: one apple cannot occupy the same place, at the same time, as another apple. But, an apple seed, and the apple, can occupy the same place at the same time. The properties of the apple, and the properties of the apple seed, can be envisioned to occupy the same place - at the same time. Both groups of properties (as envisioned by the brain) are at different levels - not the same level. Another example is: "The Sorites Paradox". (The pile of sand is at a different level than the grain of sand.)
  • RogueAI
    711
    It seems fantastical that a creature could simultaneously evolve an apparatus for seeing and an apparatus for processing the visual information by chance. We know it happened because of the fossil record, but we don't know what the odds of that happening randomly are because with a sample size of one, we can't conclude that evolution on Earth was an entirely random process.
  • Pop
    914
    Another example is: "The Sorites Paradox". (The pile of sand is at a different level than the grain of sand.)Don Wade

    In my understanding the Sorties Paradox is just an illustration of how vague questions lead to vague answers - to answer the question definitely, one must remove any vagueness ( pile ) from the question initially, lest the answer will also be vague. An interesting quirk of logic, sure to doom any theory that proceeds on this basis.

    an apple seed, and the apple, can occupy the same place at the same time.Don Wade

    What you have stated here is not logical. Two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time. because if they did then they would be the same thing. Whilst a seed is within an apple, an apple is not within a seed. An apple does not occupy the same space as the seed. It occupies more space then the seed. I think your point needs rephrasing.

    You may say the totality of all the components of an apple cause an apple to be - this would be how systems and complexity theory would put it.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.6k
    In the absence of a brain and nervous system what is causing them to self organize?Pop

    I don't know. DNA, and proximity to same and other cell types seems to be part of how cells organize themselves into tissues and organs. But then, one step back, why did DNA and the cells begin self-organizing in the first place?

    C. elegans shows how it is done--hear all about it at OpenWorm from UCLA. I don't think C. elegans has any visual capacity. It is composed of 900-1000 cells (depending on whether it is hermaphrodite (gender fluid?) or male. It's 300+ neurons enable it to behave and even learn a thing or two.

    Like I said, I don't know -- but as your link showed, some sort of visual response ability appeared long before there was a central nervous system to which an eye could attach itself. One possibility might be that the first visual capacity in multi-cellular animals may have originated in nerve cells to start with. The critical part of the eye is the retina made up of nerve-receivers. The rest of what is now the eyeball is the camera without the film. So to continue the figure of speech, the "camera" started with film and then added the chassis, lens, etc.
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