From: Appendix G: An Outline of the Semantic Argument
(As noted above, this is primarily for Philosophers only. Biologists, Mathematicians and other pragmatic minds would be better served by downloading the first two Online Papers as an introduction as they give a better and more scientific rendition of my conception.)
This appendix is the logical outline and synopsis of my argument I promised in the Introduction. Though the line it traces is complex, I think it reflects the actual complexity of the mind-brain problem itself and defines a plausible solution for the first time.
Outline of Argument :
Chapter 1, (the
presentation of my first hypothesis), is not, in itself, primarily
argumentative in form. It is, rather, the constructive exhibition of
what I believe is
a more plausible evolutionary alternative, (and a specific
counterproposal), to the representative model of cognition. This, the
schematic operative model, is my hypothesis about the origins and the
organization of the brain. I propose that "cognition" and human
reality, (viewed from a contemporary Naturalist perspective), is a
purely schematic, (i.e. internally organizational rather than
representational), artifact of reactive evolutionary process. I propose
that human cognition embodies a virtual system of control
centered in optimized response, and is not commensurate with
representation. The plausibility of this first thesis is argued
on the basis of innate design constraints for the control of
specifically -and especially - complex and dangerous
processes. This, I propose, was exactly the "engineering problem"
with which evolution was faced in the design of control systems for
complex metacellular organisms. The primary argument for this model,
and against representation, (even behavior isomorphism/representation),
is made elsewhere -at the conclusion of chapter 2, in chapter 3 and
appendices A and B. The only argumentative aspect of this chapter, (per
se), lies in what I believe is its stronger evolutionary plausibility
vis a vis
representation. I have proposed a new paradigm for model theory.
Chapter 2 approaches the mind-brain problem from the other side, (i.e. mind-brain |div| mind), to resolve the specifically logical paradoxes of mind. It presents my hypothesis for the origin and the organization of the mind. This chapter too is primarily constructive, (rather than argumentative), and constitutes a totally independent line of investigation from that of chapter 1. It investigates the nature of logic and specifically of the formal logical concept, (/category). It expands Cassirer's insight that the logical concept, (category), of modern science is a "new form of consciousness" profoundly distinct and independent from that of the perception, abstraction and "attention" which grounds traditional logic. I expand on Cassirer's highly original and mathematically oriented, (and generally overlooked), logical results, plausibly extending them in terms of (one of) Hilbert's pivotal and purely mathematical revelation(s), i.e. "implicit definition", (as strongly distinguished from his "formalism"). I conclude that mind itself is a single (higher order and, like Cassirer's, a rule-based) concept, the "concept of implicit definition". (This is an expanded meaning and a "constitutive" usage -after Kant- of "concept", however.) This, I argue, is the only "form of consciousness", subsuming all the others. But this concept, like the axiom systems of abstract mathematics, internally, (rather than referentially or oppositionally), resolves its very objects. Nor are they local, but global. It supplies thereby, and for the first time, a plausible rationale for the "Cartesian theater", i.e. awareness. For how, in Leibniz' formulation of the problem, could "the many be expressed in the one"? How could this part of even a "mental substance" know that part? This is a purely logical problem as is the problem of the "homunculus".
Implicit definition as a basis for logic permits knowing, (as a whole -i.e. "the one"), what are, in some very real sense, our distinct and separate parts, ("the many") -precisely because those parts, (objects), are in fact non-localized and virtual (logical) expressions of the whole, (the rule). It opens a genuine possibility, therefore, for the resolution of this essential requirement of "naive" consciousness.
"Implicit definition" takes on a new significance in light of Cassirer's reinterpretation of the formal logical concept however, and a new, (and very different) application to the mind-brain problem in view of my first thesis. If the function of mind and brain is primally organizational rather than referential, then "interpretation" as an assignment of meaning -and reference- is no longer the crucial issue -other than as it applies internally to the model itself, (Chapter 4 deals specifically with the problem of reference. Appendix B is also directed to this issue.)
Combining the conclusions of the second chapter with that of the first, I conclude that if we identify the mind as the single (higher order and constitutive) "concept" defined by the primitive logical, (i.e. logically behavioral), rule of the brain, (legitimized under the new formal concept and identified, roughly, with Maturana and Varela's rule of structural coupling), then a perfectly natural and plausible physical definition of "mind" is possible. Mind is the constitutive concept of the brain! But here both "concept" and "logic" are themselves reinterpreted reductively -biologically and operationally, (materially). This, I propose, is the physical, (i.e. Naturalist), answer to the mind-body problem. Empirical scientists need read no farther.
But the combination of
the first two hypotheses creates a staggering epistemological problem,
and involves, (so it seems), an obvious self-contradiction. If both our
perceptual and intellectual objects are solely artifacts of biological
coordination, then on what ground can knowledge, (and my own argument),
stand? If the very language, (to include the very "biological
coordination" and "evolution" in which I phrase my argument- being part
of that self-same human reality), is only internally organizational and
not referential, then what is it that am I describing, and how can I
even discuss the problem itself? Doesn't my theory contradict itself?
How, then, could there be science
Chapter 3 makes the
thrust towards the resolution of this epistemological problem, (created
the combination of the first two theses), and lays the groundwork for a
solution of the metaphysical problem of existence as well.
"Where could a mind exist?". Framing my argument in the context
of Maturana and Varela's "Tree of Knowledge", (and specifically in
their concept of "structural coupling"), I argue an initial Kantian
conclusion of "substantia phaenomenon" confirming what I consider to be
the two minimal and necessary (Kantian - who, I argue, was very much a
realist ) realist assumptions: the "axiom of externality" and the
"axiom of experience". (These will also lay the foundation for my
solution of the problem of mental existence.)
I argue beyond Cassirer however that "experience" itself may be defined as precisely the relativistic invariant under all consistent and comprehensive worldviews, (forms). The relativism that I argue is a rigorous one grounded in the principles of science; its invariants are experience. This conclusion, I maintain, resolves the epistemological problem created by my first theses. Nowhere does Cassirer, nor do I, question the profound effectiveness of modern science. His orientation is wholly and profoundly scientific. Rather, the various sciences are preserved as perspectives , as organizations of phenomena. Cassirer has provided the tools necessary to resolve the epistemological dilemma created by the combination of my first and second theses.
For even though my thesis assumes the validity of the Naturalist organization, (at least on the human scale), it does not assume the metaphysical reality of Naturalism's primitives. And that is precisely the issue. In questioning our actual, (referential), cognition of metaphysical reality, it is not, therefore, innately self-contradictory! Though stated in Naturalist terms, (as a legitimate but relative organization -and its terms as "focal points" of that organization), my thesis can consistently and legitimately question the the possibility of knowledge of and even the actual (metaphysical) existence of absolute referents of those terms!
Repeating my conclusion of chapter 4: the results of my first two theses are therefore consistent under this epistemological rationale. The resolution lies in the scientifically and mathematically, (but most certainly not arbitrarily), conceived relativization of knowledge itself. Relational implications, predictive systems, (to include scientific theories), are not, (with Quine), epistemologically determinate. Rather, their essence, (which is their predictivity), can be isolated, (following Cassirer), as relational invariants, (in a mathematical sense), over the field of consistent hypotheses in a sense parallel to that in which Einstein's equations of Special Relativity were isolated as invariants from the "ether" in which they were originally grounded by Lorentz. Or, rather, relational implications are invariant, but predictive organizations , (i.e. theories), even comprehensive ones, are not! They are the (better or worse), "SUPERB" or "MISGUIDED", (after Penrose's terminology), "forms" which organize those implications.
It is in Cassirer's sense of the organizational, rather than the referential relevance of theories that I propose that the relations of ordinary Naturalism -and my own thesis as well- can be, (must be), retained in a deeper realism.
5. Chapter 5:
Building on the results of chapters 3 and 4, chapter 5 proposes an actual solution to the problem of the "substance" of mind, (the "figment" in Dennett's mocking characterization). But the problem has now, (by virtue of the perspectives gained in chapters 3 and 4), been considerably simplified.
I propose that the actual and metaphysical basis for mind is already presupposed under any and all realist, (i.e. not idealistic), conceptions of reality. And that presumption is that of the existence of an interface itself -i.e. the connectivity necessarily, (a priori), presumed, (howsoever it may be reduced/explanatorily-oriented under any particular conception), between a cognating entity, (taken biologically), and the external reality in which it exists. It is that minimal interface itself, conceived in its most abstract and minimal sense, (as a limit) -the intersection of necessity of all realist theories- which I maintain, (as a realist), therefore metaphysically exists! It is apodictic, (by definition), under all realist worldviews.
But I further maintain that this minimal, (and analytically conceived), interface is sufficient to the problem of the substance of mind as well. If it is assumed that this minimal interface (metaphysically) exists, and if it is furthermore assumed that it is structured as postulated in my first two hypotheses, (and this is my third and final hypothesis), then mind itself (metaphysically) exists! It fully and internally defines -and knows- its objects! I conclude that we, as minds, are (metaphysically == truly) real! We do (metaphysically == actually) exist! We are sentient!
The problem of substance was caused, I argue, by Naturalism's overstrong and specifically metaphysical presumptions which left no room for, and concealed the possibility for a (metaphysical) reality of mind. To repeat myself, the problem was that (Van Fraassen's) "egg" of Naturalist metaphysics was just too full and left no room for anything else. Or, rather, we were ignoring the shell!
End of Outline.
In a serious, (and regrettable), way I suppose that the form and the order of my argument is in itself confusing -it is certainly complex. But it is complex, necessarily I think, because I am proposing a very different paradigm wherein even the simplest questions demand new answers. On the most general level of organization, I argue backwards, (analytically). rather than forwards, (synthetically), but I feel the nature of the subject, and the demands of comprehension compel me to do so. Each of the three steps reorients and reevaluates, (and to some extent invalidates), the one before it. They are each, as Kant calls such a move, a "Copernican revolution", and this disorientation is in the very nature of such moves. There is good precedent for such a plan, however. Such have constituted the most effective and the most critical strategies of our intellectual history and are the actual record of our scientific advance. It is also the way we necessarily learned in school. Before we could adopt more sophisticated perspectives, we were required to "learn our facts" in more simplistic settings.
Do not be confused. I have, for the most part, talked the language of ordinary Naturalism -as I must and should. It is good language. We must accept the reality of the experience which we necessarily (?) describe in Naturalist terms. But we needn't thereby accept the absolute reference which Naturalists demand. I argue, ultimately, that our naive, human-scale world stands to the ultimate reality beyond it in the same relationship that modern physics does, i.e. that of ontic indeterminism.
I equate the ultimate worth of my theory with the practical and pragmatic results it will, (or will not!), ultimately generate. Though I, (personally), feel it is innately beautiful, it is certainly a large meal to swallow. But just as the (beautiful and esoteric) theories of modern physics damage our naive psyche, so do they produce immediate, practical, and unarguable results, impossible without them. So do I propose that my thesis will produce the immediate and pragmatic results vis a vis neuroscience, (amongst other things), that we so desperately need. I believe it foreshadows a profound advance in logic and all that entails. The mind-body problem is the key to the whole of human culture, and I believe that I have supplied its first truly plausible solution.
Question : on what basis did we ever presume that the foundations of biology, philosophy and psychology were necessarily more simplistic and "natural" than those of modern physics? If the solution to the mind-body problem were that easy, would it not be a long settled question?
Mine is a realist theory. It is not idealism, no more than was Kant's. Rather, (repeating Kant's claim), it bridges the gap between realism and idealism and resolves their differences. It resolves the mind-body problem and is eminently compatible with contemporary science.
Visitor Number: Since
Return to Homepage