Frequently Asked Questions:

 

 

Note:  I lost most of my earliest emails, (and there were some very good ones), to the “blaster virus” in about 2003 so these are the best that I can produce.  Ask your questions and I will try to answer them.  Email to jiglowitz@rcsis.com  Please insert in the subject line:  “In reference to your webpage”, or I will likely unknowingly delete it as “spam”

 

Note:  I always replace the actual name of my correspondents with pseudonyms and delete any personal information from this page for the sake of their privacy.  If they should desire otherwise, they should email me about it and I will undo that.  This does not apply to journal correspondence.  Incidentally I do not correct spelling typos in my received documents.  And another note:  all chapter references are to then-contemporaneous documents.

 

 

 

Ordering will be from most recent to oldest.

 

MOST RECENT:  A link to an online blog by Blaise Lara, Professor Emeritus at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, former director of that institution’s Computer Science department for many years, and a highly respected specialist in mathematical statistics.  Here is the link to a Google (machine) translation of the original Spanish text.  In spite of the vagaries of the machine translation, it is pretty much lucid if you are willing to work around the (Google translated) language.

 

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tendencias21.net%2Fnegociacion%2F

 

#1. (A very contemporaneous response.)  I consider this the most complete comprehension of my ideas, (almost), to date.  Cassirer is this correspondent’s biggest hurdle yet to accomplish, but short of that, I think he has actually understood most of my arguments and purpose.

 

Response to first two letters:

 

Important****:  (D.York), I will follow a convention here of inserting my comments in CAPS, so as to be easily visually distinguishable from your original letter as I intersperse comments with original text.  This has nothing to say about egos, as I might just as well have reversed the process.  (You may do so if you wish.)  No other intention was assigned).  Note: This is my normal method of response! 

 

–Copy of D.York’s original email

From D.York 8-18-10

 

I wonder whether you would be kind enough to consider a question at this stage, as it relates to something I'd been thinking about prior to discovering your work, and indeed it was this thought that had stimulated the online research that led me to it.  When discussing the idea of the "interface", you say:

 

"The reality, the metaphysical presence of this interface is the immediate and necessary consequence of the synthesis of our two realist intentional fundamentals: externality and experience."

THE KEY ADJECTIVE HERE IS “INTENTIONAL”.  HERE IS A LINK TO AN OLD WRITING OF MINE STILL RESIDENT ON MY WEBPAGE –IT WAS MY ORIGINAL “INTRODUCTION FOR BEGINNERS”, (WHICH YOU CERTAINLY DON’T FIT), BUT IT TALKS ABOUT REALIST INTENTIONALITY –WHICH, I THINK, PRECISELY DESCRIBES REALISM ITSELF –IT IS A STANCE BASED UPON A PERSPECTIVE, NOT ONE BASED ON KNOWLEDGE.  http://www.foothill.net/~jerryi/INTRODUCTION.mht  YOU SHOULD SEARCH THAT WEBPAGE FOR: “KNOWING VS BELIEF: WHERE THE ANSWER TO THE PROBLEM OF CONSCIOUSNESS LIES”

 

My question relates to your grounds for characterising the presence of the interface as "necessary".  IT IS “NECESSARY” BECAUSE, AS ARGUED IN MY BOOK, THESE ARE TWO CORE REQUIREMENTS OF ANY COHERENT, (AS YOU CORRECTLY INTERPRETED IT), REALIST STANCE ITSELF.  IT IS NOT BASED IN ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE. I wonder is this necessity in your view mandated wholly by the manifest existence of experience, however we seek to explain it (something by the way that I personally endorse without reservation, contra Dennett) - which I take it is what you mean by its being a realist fundamental, since as you say it is assumed, even if only implicitly or virtually, by any coherent view of the field.  Or do you also have in mind some species of, as it were, God's eye metaphysical or logical necessity for such a "substantive" form of its existence? ABSOLUTELY NOT.  AS A CASSIRERERIAN/RELATIVIZED REALIST-MATERIALIST, I CAN BELIEVE, FOR INSTANCE, THAT “MIND” EXISTS, THAT I EXIST, THAT YOU EXIST, AND THAT MY BOOK EXISTS, BUT THESE ARE BELIEFS, NOT “FACTS”.

 

On this latter point, the thought that I'd been having runs something like this:  Prior to reading your work I'd been attempting to conceptualise what you call the interface as, very generally, an "integrative mechanism" whose role would be to, as it were, "construct" our version of macroscopic or composite "object" reality on a base of some "primary" domain of micro-level maximal differentiation. THIS IS NOT BAD.  ACTUALLY, IF YOU SEARCH THE MS FOR THE WORDS: “AND THE PROFOUND MILEAU BENEATH”, IT’S IN THE CHAPTER 4 CONCLUSION YOU WILL SEE MY REFERENCE TO THIS NOTION.  In this regard, by the way, I find your operative approach of great interest in contrast to representationalist ideas, and indeed it has sent me back to some earlier thoughts I haven't seriously reconsidered for many years.

 

It strikes me, either with reference to my own notion (hardly worked out though it is), or your own worked-through conception of the interface as the ideal or indeed, in a sense, the integration, of all possible modes of operatively constructing the "object", that dismissing the "substantive" existence of such an interface is equivalent to reducing the available realist postulates to the single one of the bare externality.  Now of course, the externality is by itself, from a Kantian perspective, wholly uninterpreted. Consequently, if we abandon the interface as a realistic entity what remains is not only an unknowable externality, but an entirely unknown one.  This wouldn't leave very much of interest, to say the least!   Possibly, this amounts to a reductio ad absurdum.

 

Thus in a nutshell, if we seek a "necessary" explanation. even from a God's eye view, of the conditions under which there can be a knowable world, we need to posit such a real interface, not just an imaginary or virtual one.  I think the reason that certain "tough realists" of Dennett's ilk don't see this is that they are naive or direct realists, and hence don't accept the Kantian analysis.  (AH, THE JOYS OF PRAGMATISM SANS THEIR RELATIVIZATION AND SUBSEQUENT LEGITIMIZATION A LA CASSIRER’S SYMBOLIC FORMS. –SEE CHAP 12 -DURANT)  For them, external reality is just there to be "observed", fully interpreted on its face.  How anyone can hold to this in full knowledge of the revelations of quantum mechanics is a mystery to me (perhaps this was one of the things Richard Feynman had in mind when he said nobody understands QM) but as you've said, there are powerful survival reasons why Naturalism exerts such a powerful hold on us.

 

Anyway, I don't want to ramble on, and I suspect I may have answered my own question by typing it out like this, but I'd be really grateful if you could spare a few moments to respond.

 

FIRST REPLY:

 

On 19 August 2010 03:41, Jerry Iglowitz <jiglowitz@surewest.net> wrote:

 Dear D.York,

 

<SNIPPET>  I will go into your questions as soon as I am able, but for now let me state that the core "nut" for you, (and me too!), centers around Cassirer's "Symbolic Forms"!  This is probably the most difficult and subtle philosophy and actual theory of relativity imaginable.  I spent some years trying to digest and internalize, (and to extend), this brilliant conception.  Modern philosophy has pretty much bypassed his ideas for the easier answers of pragmatism, et al.  Modern science on the other hand will, I believe, correct this omission as Cassirer does in fact, (as I stated in the first chapter), better fit with materialist view of the brain and cognition.  But his relativization of materialism itself makes the latter just one of many legitimate cognitive perspectives!

 

   You have good questions -please give me a little time -getting to be a very old man, but still kicking!

CASSIRER’S IS PROBABLY THE BROADEST EXPANSION CONCEIVABLE FOR THE CONCEPT OF RELATIVISM.  COPERNICUS, GALILEO, AND EINSTEIN WERE HIS ACTUAL ANTECEDENTS IN THIS REGARD.

 

 

 

 

FROM D.York

8-19-2010 –EXCERPTS OF EMAIL

 

 

Dear Jerry

 

---<SNIPPET> I have spent my professional career in computing and IT, variously as a programmer, systems analyst, project manager and latterly, head of the information technology department of an internet bank. I've recently retired from full-time work, and apart from a little consulting, have more time to devote to some of my abiding intellectual interests, which have always included a fascination for mind and cognition.

 

Oddly (or perhaps its not all that odd) this was originally stimulated, somewhat as in your own case, by personal experience with mental distress,…<SNIPPET>

 

So my very early reading and thinking were largely centred on psychology, rather than philosophy.  My first real interest in the latter area, I think, was Karl Popper, both for his ideas on falsification and the ever-provisional nature of scientific "conjecture and refutation", and also his corresponding political analysis of the Open Society.  I've was also attracted by the ideas of systems thinkers like Gregory Bateson on how Nature and Mind develop analogously under the combined influence of stochastic and selective processes.  Since I've never followed an academic course in philosophy, I suffer no doubt from the autodidact's mix of eclecticism and blind spots, in the course of pursuing whatever seizes my interest. So it was in 1984, when the BBC invited John Searle to give the Reith Lectures on "Minds, Brains and Science", that the topic of consciousness really grabbed me.

 

However, at the time I found most of the books available on "the mind" in local libraries seemed to be about everything BUT consciousness - the word was hardly mentioned, and when it was, it didn't seem to describe what it meant to me.  Functionalism seemed to be the topic of the day, but as a programmer, I wasn't fooled, ME NEITHER -SEE MY PRECIS, (CHAPTER 1), PASSAGE ON HIGH LEVEL LANGUAGES AND EMERGENCE and covered copious sheets of paper with detailed arguments and refutations. I WOULD LIKE TO SEE YOUR EXPANSION OF THIS LINE OF THOUGHT.  Later, I discovered Daniel Dennett, and much of what he said seemed to make sense, but my idea of consciousness still seemed to get lost somewhere in his overall thesis.  These days, I have many of the competing theories, much thumbed, on my bookshelves - Chalmers, Penrose, Edelman, Strawson, Rosenberg et al (though not, to this point, Cassirer)  I OBVIOUSLY THINK CASSIRER SUPPLIES GIVES THE ESSENTIAL BEGINNINGS TO THE CORE OF THE SOLUTION - and I've spent many hours, both personally and online, perusing and discussing ideas, sometimes worth considering and others half-baked or frankly crackpot, and through this have come to realize that the task of truly understanding the mind is possibly the most complex facing us. I THINK IT IS –QUOTING FROM P. 466 OF MY MS BELOW: (YOU MIGHT ALSO SEARCH THE MS FOR THE RAICHLE AND EDELMAN REFERENCES)

 

“So where do we go from here?

  The biggest problem still remaining for the science of man is the physical brain itself.  Physical science thinks it has solved the essential problem of everything else, (almost), but how large is the scope of its knowledge?  A few billion pieces of knowledge, I think.  Minsky thinks it is just a few pieces.

(FOOTNOTE BELOW –I don’t think it will transfer to email:

Dreyfus cites Minsky's attempt to specify the magnitude of the mass of knowledge necessary for humanoid intelligence.  Minsky estimates the number of facts required as on the order of one hundred thousand for reasonable behavior in ordinary situations, a million for a very great intelligence.  If this doesn't satisfy us, we are to multiply this figure by ten! Dreyfus 1992.   Minsky apparently thinks that ten million is a huge number!  I don’t think it is.)

 

But, conversely, how big is the physical brain in itself?  It is 100 billion cells alone, and its synapses are of the order of 10 trillion.  Think of the combinations and the complexity of our original and foundational mechanism which is, furthermore, self-referential by definition!  

Which is the larger, more difficult problem?  I think the answer is pretty clear.  The focus on the brain will become the primary focus of any future science.”

 

(D.York continues)   I'm always encouraged when on occasion I'm fortunate enough to encounter something of real originality and depth, as I believe is the case with your own ideas.

In this regard, I've been thinking again about Searle's notorious Chinese Room argument, in the context of the notion of implicit definition.  Searle's complaint about the computer, like the man in the Chinese Room, is that it deals only with symbols at the level of syntax, not semantics.  In fact, later he says that even this argument concedes too much, because characterising a system as a "computer" in the first place itself requires an external interpretative attribution by a mind.  Only minds can have semantics, says Searle, and it's not because of symbol manipulation, so in his view the brain must have some transcendent - and quite unknown  - causal power in this respect.

 

 Now, I've always followed him in this analysis, which was my objection to functionalism, but thinking about implicit definition has shed new light.  If we consider the matter from the perspective of a generalised system in which both "brain" and "mind" are embedded, there can't then be any way for "semantics" to be injected as it were, by stipulation, from the outside (unless by God).  Consequently if real, rather than merely metaphorical or externally imputed, understanding is to be present, as I bear witness it is, the phenomenon must somehow be internally self-sufficient - i.e. it must be defined IMPLICITLY in some way - there's simply no other route to resolving the conundrum.

 

 Considered like this, the notion of implicit definition starts to acquire the appearance of a getting-on-for-SUPERB idea!  THANKS.  NOW YOU NEED TO START ON CASSIRER.  CHAPTER’S 8 & 9 ARE A KIND OF PRECIS OF SYMBOLIC FORMS,(CASSIRER WAS A PROFOUND MIND, BUT HIS WRITING IS “OBLIQUE” IN THE EXTREME!) AND CHAPTERS 3 & 5 DEAL WITH HIS RE-INTERPRETATION OF LOGIC.  BOTH OF THESE BRILLIANT INSIGHTS ARE CRUCIAL TO THE PROBLEM. 

Best wishes

Jerry

 

RESPONSE TO LETTER OF 9-14-10

Saturday, September 25, 2010

 

Dear D.York,

 

          The following will be my last response for awhile, I hope it helps.  I am currently trying to conceptualize a new book about the significance of it all –I think they, (sic), are huge and important for our survival.  I am calling it, tentatively: “Essays on Man” –in allusion to Cassirer’s similarly titled book.  Actually some of the text was written long ago when I thought it would be easy to present the initial idea you have addressed.

          <SNIP>

 

          Now, in response to your letter of 9-14-10.  This will be slightly disconnected in terms of flow, but I think I have addressed most of the salient points and needed to get it finished:

 

          First, I have never seen a good book about Cassirer.  I have seen profound books by him, however.  I think that ultimately he will come to be known as one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century.  (Smart’s essay –a logical critique, though negative, in the posthumous volume: “The Philosophy of Ernst Cassirer”, Library of Living Philosophers, Tudor Publishing Company, 1958 makes some important points however.)

          As I have said before, it is important to realize that Cassirer is the originator of two very distinct and important ideas and it is important to consider them both separately and in their interrelation:

           (1) His redefinition of the very word “concept” itself, (this is profound, extremely deep and forces us to consider the very way we think!), and

           (2) his “Theory of Symbolic Forms” which is relativism pushed to the (almost) very limit.  But it is a relativism of epistemologies themselves –no individual one epistemology is sufficient, (see later –this is about invariants and mathematical ideals –See Chap 9).  It is on the latter point that I think you are stumbling.

 

          As far as books go, I will cite you chapter and verse for just two of his books.

 

          1.  For his redefinition of “concept”:   “Substance and Function”, (German title: “Substance Concepts and Function Concepts).  Actually all you need is Chapter one of this book if you are capable of truly contemplating its meaning –and, from our discussions, I think you might be.  This was the book I read at 18, and it changed my whole concept of mathematics, (and everything else).  Actually I quoted extensively from it in my MS, and the citations are there for you to follow.  It is not excessively long, and you might consider purchasing it –or borrow it from your friend.

 

          2.  For his “Theory of Symbolic Forms”.  This one, as I have said, is extremely oblique in its presentation.  On the other hand, if you were to crash-land on a desert island, it is fascinating and he writes beautifully –his sections on psychology are interesting as hell, and might interest you –he had read just about everything, (about everything!)-his sections on Jackson appealed to me).  The problem with this book, (contrary to the case with “Substance and Function” is that he never comes to the point –or rather, he does so only casually.  I will site you what I think are the proper beginning and ending points that I think are most relevant to our problem.

          I think the proper beginning point on this book is to consider his quoted comment of Hertz’s on the nature of science itself, (considered in concert with Cass’s Mathematical Concept of Function” hereinafter =MCF of “Substance and Function”):

           

"The images of which we are speaking are our ideas of things; they have with things the one essential agreement which lies in the fulfillment of the stated requirement, [of successful consequences], but further agreement with things is not necessary to their purpose. Actually we do not know and have no means of finding out whether our ideas of things accord with them in any other respect than in this one fundamental relation.", (H. Hertz, "Die Prinzipien der Mechanik", my emphasis)

 

          Then it is necessary to consider it from his comment, (in reference to the nature of his reformulated Concept, (MCF), that the latter is “a new form of consciousness”, not derived from the traditional, Aristotelian methodology of presentation/attention/abstraction.  That is, it is not derived from presentation!  This is a key issue, and I address it below in my interleaved response to your letter.

          Ultimately, consider this passage by Cassirer: (cited on p.343 my book)

"Each of the original directions of knowledge, each interpretation, which it makes of phenomena to combine them into the unity of a theoretical connection or into a

definite unity of meaning, involves a special understanding and formulation of the concept of reality."XXII THIS IS THE CITATION REFERENCE COLOR

 

QUOTED FROM AN OLD VERSION OF MY BOOK= from compiled 9-2-00

This change of perspective, (a genuine "Copernican Revolution" in Kant's sense), necessitates and validates Cassirer's conclusion of the innate symmetry and a relativity of interpretations for phenomena.  "With this critical insight ... science renounces its aspiration and its claim to an 'immediate' grasp and communication of reality."1

 

It realizes that the only objectivization of which it is capable is, and must remain, mediation, [my emphasis].  And in this insight, another highly significant [critical]2 idealistic consequence is implicit.  If the object of knowledge can be defined only through the medium of a particular logical and conceptual structure, we are forced to conclude that a variety of media, [my emphasis], will correspond to various structures of the object, to various meanings for 'objective' relations.3

 

This is the assertion of symmetry and the foundation for his thesis of "Symbolic Forms".

 

Even in 'nature',4 [my emphasis], the physical object will not coincide absolutely with the chemical object, nor the chemical with the biological -because physical, chemical, biological knowledge frame their questions each from its own particular standpoint and, in accordance with this standpoint, subject the phenomena to a special interpretation and formation.5  It might also seem that this consequence in the development of [critical] idealistic thought had conclusively frustrated the expectation in which it began.  The end of this development seems to negate its beginning -the unity of being, for which it strove, threatens once more to disintegrate into a mere diversity of existing things.  The One Being, to which thought holds fast and which it seems unable to relinquish without destroying its own form, eludes cognition.6

 

 

          It is the phenomena, (experience), not reference, however, that is the fulcrum of, (and reunifies), this relativity of perspectives.  The forms do not refer to (metaphysical) reality, (their objects are not images of reality), they organize experience.  Metaphysical reality becomes "a mere X"!1  "The more its metaphysical unity as a 'thing in itself' is asserted, the more it evades all possibility of knowledge, until at last it is relegated entirely to the sphere of the unknowable and becomes a2 mere 'X'", [my emphasis].3  It is the realm of phenomena, "the true sphere of the knowable with its enduring multiplicity, finiteness and relativity", on which we stand.  It is the (multiplicitous and relativized) organization of phenomena, not reference to a metaphysical origin, which lies at the basis of knowledge.

 

"And to this rigid metaphysical absolute is juxtaposed the realm of phenomena, the true sphere of the knowable4 with its enduring multiplicity, finiteness and relativity.5 

 

But this reorientation does not destroy the either the unity or the coherence of knowledge.

 

"But upon closer scrutiny the fundamental postulate of unity is not discredited by this irreducible diversity, [my emphasis], of the methods and objects of knowledge; it merely assumes a new form.  True, the unity of knowledge can no longer be made certain and secure by referring knowledge in all its forms to a 'simple' common object which is related to all these forms as the transcendent prototype to the empirical copies." [my emphasis]1

 

(This latter demand is, of course, the rationale of the Naturalist claim of reference.)

But instead, a new task arises: to gather the various branches of science with their diverse methodologies - with all their recognized specificity and independence - into one system, whose separate parts precisely through their necessary diversity will complement and further one another.  This postulate of a purely functional unity replaces the postulate of a unity of substance and origin, which lay at the core of the ancient concept of being."2

 

HERE IS ANOTHER REFERENCE:

 

“Every authentic function of the human spirit has this decisive characteristic in common with cognition: it does not merely copy but rather embodies an original, formative power.  It does not express passively the mere fact that something is present but contains an independent energy of the human spirit through which the simple presence of the phenomenon assumes a definite 'meaning', a particular ideational content."VI

 

"This is as true of art as it is of cognition; it is as true of myth as of religion. All live in particular image-worlds, which do not merely reflect the empirically given, but which rather produce it in accordance with an independent principle.” [Note: That is, in accordance with “a rule”.]

 

Each of these functions creates its own symbolic forms which, if not similar to the intellectual symbols, enjoy equal rank as products of the human spirit.  None of these forms can simply be reduced to, or derived from, the others; each of them designates a particular approach, in which and through which it constitutes its own aspect of 'reality'. They are not different modes in which an independent reality manifests itself to the human spirit, but roads by which the spirit proceeds towards its objectivization, i.e. its self-revelation."VII

 

FROM MY BOOK:

          Ordinary Naturalism confuses a particular organization, (mathematical physics), with the phenomena themselves which are organized. That is the basis of its assertion of reference –and its "scientific realism". "The "objects", (the organizational primitives -i.e. images"), of one particular form are assumed, (incorrectly), to reference ontology -to relate to "an ultimate metaphysical unity".

 

"Where there exist such diversities in fundamental direction of consideration, the results of consideration cannot be directly compared and measured with each other. The naive realism of the ordinary view of the world, like the realism of dogmatic metaphysics, falls into this error, ever again. It separates out of the totality of possible concepts of reality a single one and sets it up as a norm and pattern for all the others. Thus certain necessary formal points of view, from which we seek to judge and understand the world of phenomena, are made into things, into absolute beings.[my emphasis]XXIII

 

          What these "formal points of view" do, instead, he argues is organize phenomena. What is consistent under all forms, however, are the phenomena themselves.

Naturalism confuses a particular "frame of reference", i.e. “form”, with the invariant relationality of experience in the abstract -i.e. under all consistent frames. It confuses a specific organization, (and a specific characterization), of experience with the experience itself which is organized. It results, (and I repeat myself), in an improper assignment of unique metaphysical reference rather than a legitimate judgment of empirical, (i.e. experiential), adequacy for the primitives of its theories.

"Only when we resist the temptation to compress the totality of forms, which here result, into an ultimate metaphysical unity, into the unity and simplicity of an absolute 'world ground' and to deduce it from the latter, do we grasp its true concrete import and fullness.

 No individual form can indeed claim to grasp absolute 'reality' as such and to give it complete and adequate expression.[my emphasis]"XXIV

 

 

          Now let me do a mini-critique of your letter of 9-14-10, as I think you are confusing Cassirer’s two very distinct ideas.

 

“As I said, d'Espagnat cites his ideas at reasonable length as the clearest example of the neo-Kantian approach to "empirical reality" (i.e. what is in principle accessible to observation, as distinct from a deeper reality that, though its presence may be inferred, must inevitably remain ontologically indeterminate)” THIS INVOLVES A SUBTLE INTERPLAY BETWEEN THE BOTH OF CASSIRER’S MAIN IDEAS CITED ABOVE.  FIRST WE MUST COMPREHEND THAT S&F, (ABBREVIATION TO BE USED FOR “Substance and Function”), IS BASED IN THE FORM OF A SERIES VS THE ELEMENTS OF THE SERIES.  REREAD CHAPTER 3, (PPS. 98-107) OF MY MS, (AND CHAP 5 IS ALSO RELEVANT).  HERE IS A BRIEF EXCERPT CITING CASSIRER:

The formal Concept is no longer logically derivable from its

extension, (its membership), however:

 

"The meaning of the law that connects the individual members is not to be exhausted by the enumeration of any number of instances of the law; for such enumeration lacks the generating principle that enables us to connect

the individual members into a functional whole."

 

“If we know the relation according to which a b c . . . are ordered, we can deduce them by reflection and isolate them as objects of thought. "It is impossible, on the other hand, to discover the special character of the connecting relation from the mere juxtaposition of a,b,c in presentation."

 

And again:

 

"That which binds the elements of the series a,b,c, ... together is not itself a new element that was factually blended with them, but it is the rule of progression, which remains the same, no matter in which member it is represented. The function F(a,b), F(b,c), ..., which determines the sort of dependence between the successive members, is obviously not to be pointed out as itself a member of the series, which exists and develops according to it."  (My emphasis) See footnote.

This is the definitive argument against “abstraction” as the general case and against “presentation”, [“things”], as an ultimate foundation for logic.    BUT THE RULE ITSELF BECOMES “A NEW FORM OF CONSCIOUSNESS”

 

 

 

FROM D.York 9-14-10

 

REITERATING:

 

  As I said, d'Espagnat cites his ideas at reasonable length as the clearest example of the

neo-Kantian approach to "empirical reality" (i.e. what is in principle accessible to observation, BUT WHAT IS “OBSERVATION”  -IT IS AN ATTEMPT AT A GOD’S EYE VIEW OF ONTOLOGY, (HOWSOEVER YOU MAY QUALIFY IT), RATHER THAN EXISTING AS A COMPONENT OF SOME PARTICULAR, (COGNITIVE), SYMBOLIC FORM. as distinct from a deeper reality that, though its presence may be inferred, must inevitably remain ontologically indeterminate).  THE POINT IS THAT YOU CAN NEVER GET TO A GOD’S EYE VIEW.  THERE IS A QUOTE IN AN OFFLINE PAPER OF MINE, (THE ORIGINAL INTRODUCTION FOR BEGINNERS –STILL ACTIVE LINK = http:www.foothill.net/~jerryi/INTRODUCTION.mht)

WHEREIN I REFERED TO KANT AS WALKING ON WATER.

HERE IS THE QUOTE FROM THAT PAPER:


“Have you ever seen the modern remake of the movie "Cinderella", ("Forever After")? There is a scene in it where the heroine is seen paddling around, face-up in a lake. Prince Charming arrives on the scene accompanied, strange to say, by Leonardo da Vinci dressed, appropriately, in medieval clothes. Leonardo decides to try out his latest invention, a pair of miniature canoe-like floatation shoes, and he proceeds to walk on water, startling the heroine when he reaches her.

Try to hold that image - of the medieval Leonardo walking across the lake. It reminds me, strange to tell, very much of Immanuel Kant exploring the "lake" of ontology. Kant looked at the possibilities of human cognition and concluded that our knowledge, (what we can know), could not be the "solid knowledge" of "bottom dwellers", (objectivists, materialists), nor could it be the "airy knowledge" of birds, (idealists, solipsists), flying unattached and independent of the earth. He concluded that human knowledge must take account of its own medium, (the water). The best we could do was to discover the means to float upon it. We cannot build a bridge here, (as the bottom dwellers insist), because the lakebed is made of quicksand and the deeper we attempt to drive the piers, the deeper they sink. Kant's "means", (his "buoyancy"), lay in the fundamentally relativistic conception of realism that he spelled out. It centers in the innate necessities of human cognition itself. The only knowledge we are capable of is that "which floats"!

 

THIS REMINDS ME OF A QUOTE FROM NEURATH, (I ENCOUNTERED IT IN READING QUINE), THAT “WE MUST KICK AWAY THE LADDER!”  THINK ABOUT THIS.  IT IS THE RIGID BUT INADEQUATE EPISTEMOLOGICAL LADDER, (THE GOD’S EYE VIEW), THAT WE MUST KICK AWAY!

 

I would say that my current understanding of these issues, at least in relation to your book, is that the total relation of an organism – or indeed a community of organisms - with its environment comes to be embodied, through evolving processes of interaction and feedback, in a system of symbolic forms. (THIS IS A LEGITIMATE, BUT RELATIVISTIC STATEMENT BUT IT MUST BE TAKEN WITHIN A PARTICULAR, BIOLOGICAL COGNITIVE FORM)  As a result of this process, the evolved symbol system then comes to constitute its total empirical reality. (“EMPIRICAL REALITY = ONTOLOGY??)

d'Espagnat also makes it crystal clear how physics has shown this symbolic relationship with "reality" to extend, not only to ordinary human-scale objects of perception, but down to the most "fundamental" level of analysis available, even in principle.  Whilst it is certainly possible that other organisms might (and indeed, over the broad sweep of the biological kingdom, do) "carve up" their empirical landscapes differently according to their differently evolved needs, (SIDE COMMENT –THIS IS THE PROPOSED SUBJECT IN MY PROMISED ESSAY IN THE “IN THE CLOSET” PAGE OF MY WEBSITE AS “AN ARGUMENT FOR VEGETARIANISM”!) , all are limited by the same "uncertainty relation" with an ontological "Real" that remains inescapably at an epistemological distance.  NOT BAD –BUT THE LANGUAGE MUST BE CLEANED UP.

 

Of course, the point you rightly make is that the development of biological organisms is shaped by survival needs, not "truth", but it's still fascinating that this "design feature" extends all the way down in our attempts to grasp external reality.  But how could it be

otherwise?  THIS WAS MY COMMENT THAT AT THE VERY SMALL SCALE AND THE VERY LARGE SCALE INDETERMINISM IS THE RULE.   I ARGUED THAT IT APPLIED AT THE HUMAN SCALE AS WELL.

 

I'd certainly be grateful for any pointers from you as to where to focus next.

Regards

 

David

 

David, I hope this helps some.  I must apologize for the nonlinearity of the answer, but I wanted to get my notes to you.  I am obviously playing with highlighting, et al but I hoped it might help for clarification.  Currently very much exhausted with my physical work, but I think it is helping my mental state vis a vis my daughter.

 

Best wishes,

Jerry

 

------------------------------END CURRENT D.YORK INTERCHANGE-------------------------------

------------------------------LETTER FROM B.L.----------------------------------------------------------

Here is an old letter from a distinguished mathematician at the HEC in Lausanne, Switzerland, (since retired).  His specialty is multivariate statistical analysis.   It's kind of embarrassing in its praise, but I think he saved my life at a bad time by the warmth he showed me.  Nothing came of it however, as his wife came down with Multiple Sclerosis and I think it destroyed him.  I tried to keep in touch for several years, but I think I can understand where he is coming from.  I feel that way about my wife as well.

 

"24-MAR-1995

Subj: deep regret

 

Dear Mr Iglowitz

You are not under misapprehension. I am VERY sympathetic with your scientific and philosophical viewpoints. And after reading this morning your last message I feel sincerely concerned by your personal situation. Unfortunately I am also under heavy constraints of another kind (my wife's health) and that explains my lasting silence.

As a matter of fact, I was preparing an answer containing detailed comments on the border of almost every two pages of your manuscript. Please believe Mr. Iglowitz on my deep sympathy with your ideas. I even suspect a kind of spiritual brotherhood among us. This spontaneous manifestation does not sound like a very academic statement or manifestation. But the hell with the academy in front of the personal and intimate adventure of the few real men we have the fortune of meeting from time to time.

 

My sincere regards

B.L."

---------------------------------------------END B.L.------------------------------------------------

------------------------WALTER J. FREEMAN CORRESPONDENCE------------------------

I have corresponded with Dr. Walter Freeman , an original-thinking and highly respected neuroscientist and biologist of international repute at U.C. Berkeley.  (He held the Spinoza Chair at the University of Amsterdam, amongst other things and is highly published.)  His response to a sketch of my first thesis was: 

"Your arguments are indeed compelling and should persuade some of the proponents of representational AI of the feasibility of alternatively based models.... I think it is remarkable how our separate programs have converged to shared conclusions regarding nonrepresentational operations of brains....I wish you good fortune in getting a responsive audience.  Your ideas certainly deserve that."

He was very helpful and allowed me to use his remarks for promoting my ideas. He was unwilling to pursue the very strong philosophical implications of the problem however, preferring to "return to his rabbits". His own ideas produce implications very similar to mine, though he has turned to "chaos theory" as a preferred medium. I don't agree with him there, but I can see the "attraction". :-)

He has been encouraging over the years, but could not break me into publication.  His most recent comments, (2005), were:  "I've received and enjoyed your up-dated manuscript, including the new appendix on 'automorphism'...  You continue to strike pay dirt in searching for alternatives to representationalism."  "I wish you good fortune, Jerry "

-------------------------END W.J. FREEMAN CORRESPONDENCE---------------------------

 

-------------------------G.C. CORRESPONDENCE------------------------------------------------

#1.  Letters from a Ph.D. candidate: ~2006

 

G.C. wrote:  My name is G.C.  I have just started research on a PhD thesis in disembodiment in virtual reality at ****** University in New Zealand.  One giant block of work I have to work on is Consciousness (particularly the problem of what is happening to our consciousness in a fully immersive model of VR?).  My background is in English and Literary Theory and so I do not know much about the subject. 

 

I read Dennett's Consciousness Explained and Mind Children and Searle's Mystery of the Mind and then I came across your page and downloaded your book a few days ago.  I must admit I find your theories very interesting and captivating yet I feel rather stupid reading the book as I have to go over and over the same page X times with a dictionary before I start to grasp what you intend, and as you have fairly noted, one does need to have a good intertextual understanding of the writers you mentioned, which I admit, I do not have.

 

I would nevertheless like to engage with your work but doubt I will have the time, at present to go through all the reading mentioned as this is only a small part of my thesis.  Is there a way around this problem?

 

Where, how and through whom do you suggest I approach the issue of consciousness in relation to VR?

 

Thank you very much for your time,

 

G.C.

 

 

Dear G.C.,

 

    I would be happy to open a discussion with you.  My book is, as you say, very difficult.  This is not by intention, but, I think, because of the very nature of the subject itself.  The two online papers: "Mind: the Argument from Evolutionary Biology" and "Consciousness: a Simpler Approach" are recent refinements of my first 3 chapters, and are, I think, considerably clearer.  As I said in the "Apology", however, I had intended, (and still do intend), to present my final, summarizing theme as the third essay.  Unfortunately, I had a series of strokes about a year ago, and it has made writing difficult.  Hopefully the situation will get better.  Also, I am looking at the problem of presentation anew, and am reconsidering just how to break through the prejudices of my readers.

 

    I understand your time constraints.  It is too bad because the classical writers had important things to say on the problem.  Kant and, more importantly, Cassirer had brilliant ideas about it.  I believe the latter’s theory of "Symbolic Forms" is the keyway to the problem.  (His style however, in my opinion, is atrocious and difficult to summarize.  It is oblique in the extreme.  Chapter 4 of my (ORIGINAL) book is an attempt to linearize his ideas.)

 

    Have you read my "Introduction for Beginners"?  It is meant for everyone, and not "just beginners", though I must title it so.  The paper mentioned above "Mind: the Argument from Evolutionary Biology" presents a rationale for something like what I think you are describing -under the heading "Mind: an Explicit Model".  It shows how the brain could use an "immersive model", (using your words), and it need not be representative.  Again, it is not easy, -not because it contains "arcane" references, but because of the originality of the idea itself.

 

    I would be happy to entertain a dialogue.  It is too bad your field of interest is in English and Literary Theory, as the field of cognitive science could use such open and receptive minds.  This field belongs to the young.

 

Best wishes,

 

Jerry

 

 

(J.I. RESPONSE TO A SET OF QUESTIONS):  Dear G.,

 

    I will interleave my comments between your questions, and then continue below them.  I have found it helpful to carry on such a dialogue by placing my comments in CAPS to distinguish them for clarity.  There is no ulterior implication in this -I might just as well have done so to your comments instead.  (Also it's easier typing that way. ;- )) )

 

G.C. wrote:

I read the response to mind essay and found it very intriguing.  I can’t say I understood it in its entirety so I’m going to read the Consciousness: a Simpler Approach and then return to it later on tonight.  Here are a couple of questions and comments:

 

1) Is there a link or similarity between the term 'calculus' as used in the essay and Dennett's concept of the Heterophenomenological world?

 

J.I. ANSWER: "CALCULUS" IS USED IN ITS BASIC MATHEMATICAL SENSE, (I QUOTED THE WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY IN A FOOTNOTE: I.E. "A SYSTEM OF CALCULATION USING SYMBOLS"), AND AS DISTINGUISHED FROM "THE CALCULUS" -I.E. DIFFERENTIAL AND INTEGRAL CALCULUS.  IT IS THE MOST BASIC CONCEPTION OF SYMBOLIC CALCULATION AND DOES NOT ENTAIL SPECIFIC PRESUMPTIONS.  DENNETT'S "HETEROPHENOMENOLOGY" IS NOT RELATED TO IT DIRECTLY.  HIS TERM REFERS TO THE PURE PHENOMENOLOGY, (HAPPENINGS), OF EVENTS AS ABSTRACTED FROM ANY SPECIFIC INTERPRETATION OR METAPHYSICAL BELIEFS.  IT'S BEEN A WHILE SINCE I'VE READ DENNETT, BUT, IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY, HIS "FEENOMINISTS", (??), ARE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE IN  MENTAL PHENOMENA, BUT HE ARGUES THAT THIS IS UNNECESSARY.   I HAVE AN APPENDIX IN MY BOOK DIRECTLY DEALING WITH DENNETT, ("DENNETT APPENDIX").

 

G.C. 2) In the following part "These objects, I propose, are manifestations of the structure; the structure is not a resolution of the objects", what is the term structure referring to, which structure?

 

J.I.:  THE STRUCTURE I AM REFERING TO IS THE ABSTRACT MATHEMATICAL ONE REFERRED TO ABOVE, (I.E. OF A CALCULUS).  IT IS LIKE A MATHEMATICAL AXIOMATIC STRUCTURE -ITS RULES AND LAWS.  ITS OBJECTS, I ULTIMATELY ARGUE, ARE IMPLICITLY DEFINED BY THOSE RULES AND LAWS.  THE "CONSCIOUSNESS: A SIMPLER APPROACH TO THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM” PAPER DETAILS THIS IN ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE.  THIS, (IMPLICIT DEFINITION), WAS DAVID HILBERT'S BRILLIANT CONTRIBUTION TO THE PROBLEM.  (HILBERT IS  ONE OF THE MOST RESPECTED MATHEMATICIANS OF OUR TIME).  AS I NOTED IN THE PREFACE TO THAT PAPER, THE SERIES OF EXAMPLES IS NOT INTENDED TO BE LINEAR, BUT LOGARITHMIC - THE COMPLEXITY "TAKES OFF", BUT THE SEQUENCE SHOULD BE UNDERSTANDABLE.

 

G.C.: 3) I didn’t understand, no matter how many times over I read it, the last part of the GUI - "But I assert that GUI’s and their “objects”, (icons), have a deeper potentiality of “free formation”. They have the potential to link to any selection across a substrate, i.e. they could “cross party lines”. They could cross categories of “things in the world”, (Lakoff’s “objectivist categories”), {17} ), and acquire thereby the possibility of organizing on a different and the most pressing issue: i.e. urgency / risk. They need preserve neither parallelism nor hierarchy."

 

J.I.:  I AM A LITTLE CONFUSED HERE -THIS MUST HAVE COME FROM THE "MIND: THE ARGUMENT FROM EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY".  O.K.  THE GUI IS THE CASE OF SCHEMATISM WHICH I ARGUE FOR MIND.  TAKING MIND AS A REPRESENTATIVE MODEL, (AS MOST COGNITIVE SCIENTISTS DO), THERE IS A NECESSARY PRESERVATION OF CATEGORIES AND A HIERARCHICAL CONTAINMENT.  IT IS WHAT ALLOWS YOU TO SEE CHEMISTRY AS A SUBSET OF PHYSICS, FOR INSTANCE, AND BIOLOGY AS A SUBSET OF BOTH OF THEM.  ("PARTY LINES", (SET THEORETIC CONTAINMENT), ARE FOR THEM NECESSARILY PRESERVED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE PROCESS OF THE BRAIN.   "CROSSING PARTY LINES" IS AN (AMERICAN ?) EXPRESSION OF THE CASE WHERE ALL DEMOCRATS OR REPUBLICANS, (INSERT YOUR LOCAL BODIES), DO NOT VOTE AS A BLOCK. "CROSSING PARTY LINES" IS WHAT ALLOWS US TO CONCEIVE THE BRAIN AS ORGANIZING ON A BASIS OF EFFICIENCY AS OPPOSED TO INFORMATION.)

 

I ARGUE AGAINST THE USUAL CONCEPTION.  I ARGUE THAT THE BRAIN IS A PRODUCT OF EVOLUTION, EVOLVING FROM THE "INSIDE OUT", (BASED IN THE OPTIMIZED, SELF-ORGANIZING FUNCTIONALITY OF ORGANIC PROCESS), RATHER THAN FROM THE "OUTSIDE IN", (I.E. "INFORMATION").  THIS IS BECAUSE THE CRITERION FOR SURVIVAL OF AN ORGANISM IS BASED, (PURE DARWINISM, ALSO MATURANA, ALSO EDELMAN, ALSO FREEMAN), -UPON SIMPLE ADEQUACY, NOT UPON INFORMED RESPONSE.  IT DOES NOT MATTER WHETHER YOU KILL THE FLY WHICH IS TORMENTING YOU BY SMACKING IT WITH A FLYSWATTER, OR BY DEFECATING ON IT! J       WHATEVER WORKS!  THE FINISHED BRAIN IS THE END PRODUCT OF OPTIMALLY ORGANIZING SUCH SUCCESSFUL PROCESSES.

 

G.C.:  4)  Could you be patient enough to apply your overall theory to the following example situations so that I may have an example to relate to when re-reading the essay :

If there is no representation, how do I see the 'images' I see while I am reading or hearing a story?

 

J.I.:  THIS WAS THE BREAKTHROUGH I THINK I MADE IN THE "MIND:....EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY".  (I WILL HAVE TO ENLARGE THIS THEME LATER TO PUT IT IN A MORE COMPREHENSIVE CONTEXT.)  FROM THE STANDPOINT OF BIOLOGY, (AS OPPOSED TO OTHER "SYMBOLIC FORMS" - SEE CHAPTER 4 OF MY BOOK, AND HOPEFULLY THE SUBJECT OF MY THIRD -"APOLOGY" ESSAY), THESE 'IMAGES", (NO QUOTES REALLY NECESSARY), ARE SYMBOLS, (BIOLOGICAL ARTIFACTS), IN THE TOPOBIOLOGICAL MAPS OF THE CORTEX.  IN THE SECTION "AN EXPLICIT MODEL", I ARGUE THAT THEY ARE THE IMMENSELY SOPHISTICATED ARTIFACTS OF CORTEX WHICH EXIST TO TIE RE-ENTRANT OUTPUT BACK INTO THE NON-LINEAR TRANSFORM, (INTO THE REST OF THE BRAIN), THAT FREEMAN DESCRIBES.  MERLEAU-PONTY TALKS ABOUT SENSATIONS AS THE RESULT OF AN ORGANISM ACTING INTO THE WORLD WITH FEEDBACK.  I SAY THAT THESE TOPOBIOLOGICAL OBJECTS ARE THE OPTIMIZERS, (LIKE THE GUI'S OF COMPUTERS), THAT ALLOW HUGELY MULTIPLE MAPPINGS OF INPUT BACK INTO THE REST OF THE BRAIN.  BUT THEY ARE GROUNDED IN THE PROCESS OF INTERNAL OPTIMIZATION, (OF ADEQUATE FUNCTION), NOT IN INFORMATION.  I.E. THEY ARE PURELY PRACTICAL ENTITIES.  THE APPENDIX TO THIS PAPER TALKS ABOUT HOW WE MIGHT REUSE SUCH OBJECTS AND HOW WE INTERACT WITH THEM.

 

 

G.C.:  How am I conscious of an abstract feeling such as the pleasure derived from a piece of music?

 

J.I.:  THIS IS HARDER.  PART OF THE PROBLEM IS THAT I VIEW MY WORK AS SCIENCE, NOT AS PHILOSOPHY.  AS SUCH, IT WILL RAISE MORE QUESTIONS THAN IT ANSWERS.  I HAVE IDEAS ON THIS SUBJECT, BUT I AM SOMEWHAT SHY ABOUT EXPOSING THEM.  I FEEL I MUST COMPLETE THE LEVEL I HAVE BEGUN BEFORE GOING FURTHER AND CONFUSING MY READERS EVEN MORE.  AS A HINT, I THINK THAT CASSIRER'S SYMBOLIC FORMS IS DEEPER THAN EVEN HE SUSPECTED.

 

G.C.:  How would the schematic theory be implemented in a situation of fully sensorially immersive VR (similar to the fictional Gibsonesque Matrix or the virtual world in The Matrix)?

 

J.I.:  O.K.  YOU WANT HELP ON YOUR THESIS!   :-)   I'M WILLING TO TRY.  HOW WOULD YOU MAKE SUCH A THING?  THERE ARE A COUPLE OF WAYS, IT SEEMS TO ME - NONE OF THEM EASY.

 

1.  YOU COULD SPEND A FEW BILLION YEARS OF EVOLUTION TO ALLOW A MULTICELLULAR BIOLOGICAL ORGANISM TO SELF-ORGANIZE ITSELF FOR OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE IN THE WORLD, (THIS IS NOT A CONTRADICTION - SEE MY CHAPTER 4).  THIS DOES NOT MEAN INFORMED, "PERFECT" PERFORMANCE HOWEVER, BUT ADEQUATE PERFORMANCE.  AT SOME POINT, YOU WOULD ALLOW CORTEX TO EVOLVE IN THE FEEDBACK LOOP FROM BEHAVIORAL OUTPUT BACK INTO INPUT SENSORS, MEDIATING BETWEEN THE TWO AND DISPERSIVELY MAPPING INTO BRAIN AS A WHOLE..  IT IS THE "OBJECTS" OF THE CORTEX, (THESE PURELY PRAGMATIC ARTIFACTS), WHICH I ARGUE ARE THE "COMBINED-IN-ONE" ICONS I DISCUSSED IN THE ENGINEERING ARGUMENT.

 

2.  YOU COULD MAKE A COMPUTER PROGRAM THAT SIMULATES THE OPTIMIZING FUNCTION OF SUCH A PROCESS.  THE LOGIC OF THAT PROGRAM WOULD BE A SPECIFIC PROBLEM HOWEVER, AS MOST CURRENT LOGIC IS SET-BASED AND HIERARCHICAL -AND THIS WOULD CONSTRAIN THE LOGICAL POSSIBILITIES OF THE PROGRAM ITSELF.  AGAIN I MUST COME BACK TO CASSIRER -AND HIS OTHER BRILLIANT CONCEPTION: "THE FUNCTIONAL CONCEPT OF MATHEMATICS".  THIS WAS A START TOWARDS A RADICALLY NEW CONCEPTION OF THE LOGICAL "CONCEPT" ITSELF, ONE THAT ALLOWS NEW POSSIBILITIES IN MATHEMATICS AND LOGIC.  SOME WRITERS ON THIS SUBJECT LIKE TO DISCUSS THE "MASSIVELY PARALLEL" ASPECTS OF THE "HUMAN COMPUTER", (THE BRAIN).  I THINK THEY ARE WRONG.  IT IS NOT MASSIVELY "PARALLEL", BUT MASSIVELY DIFFUSIVE -IN FREEMAN'S SENSE.

 

3.  I HATE TO MENTION "CHAOS THEORY", BUT IT IS CONCEIVABLE THAT IT COULD PROVIDE THE LINK BETWEEN CORTICAL OBJECTS AND THE SUBSTRATE OF THE BRAIN.

 

CHANGING SUBJECTS:  IN "MATRIX", THE ACTUAL REALITY WAS THAT THIS WAS A TOTALLY "TUBED-UP" ORGANISM LIVING IN A NURTURING POD.  HIS MENTAL REALITY, HOWEVER, WAS LIFE IN THE 20TH CENTURY, (??), FULLY MOBILE AND FUNCTIONAL.  AND YET HE WAS ABLE TO EFFECT CHANGES IN HIS ACTUAL ENVIRONMENT.  FROM THE STANDPOINT OF THE COMPUTER PROGRAM ITSELF, THESE WERE PROFOUNDLY COMPLEX.  HE IS THE "HERO" I MENTIONED IN MY "MIND-BRAIN: AN INTRODUCTION FOR BEGINNERS".

 

G.C.:  Ok, now for the hardest part.  Can I in my own words try to explain where I’ve gotten to so far in my understanding of the essay?  I’m probably going to make a total fool out of myself, but you can't expect to learn to walk without bruising your knees a bit on hard tarmac. 

 There is as such, no ultimate objective reality we can ever perceive.  This is because we are part of that system of symbols we weave to function efficiently in a very complicated environment, through a very complicated vessel.  We can never attain a point of view which allows us to see the objective reality (if there is indeed such a thing)

 

J.I.:  BECAUSE WE ARE JOINTLY, (?), REALISTS, WE DO ASSUME THERE IS SUCH A THING.  THIS IS PART OF OUR REALIST POSTURE AND I HAVE TERMED IT THE "AXIOM OF EXTERNALITY".  IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS A BELIEF, HOWEVER, AND NOT A FACT!  I ARGUE THAT SCIENCE FORCES US TO THE REALIZATION THAT WE CAN NEVER KNOW THE "WHAT" OR THE "HOW" OF IT.

 

 

G.C. (continues): as separate from the tools we have of perceiving it.  More importantly, the environment we are in is too complicated for us to fully take in all the data, so instead we enact a system of meaning through symbols to operate our vessel and interpret [J.I.: SUBSTITUTE INTERACT WITH] this environment.  Perceiving and reacting are in fact not separate but part of an ongoing loop of input/output processes that give us an optimized way of surviving.

 

J.I.:  THIS ISN'T BAD.

 

G.C.:  That is a sort of crude summary of what I have grasped so far (if indeed I have).  I hope I haven’t offended you by distorting your views in my simplistic understanding.

 

Since you mentioned that you wanted to find a way how to present ideas in a way to get through to more reader's here is my own subjective experience of engaging with the text :

 

The material being covered is complex.  The ideas need to, as you said, break through some very deeply ingrained prejudices.  Thus the language needs to be as accessible and as plain as possible.  I found myself going through it with an Oxford dictionary on one side and a Webster dictionary on the other and checking up on a lot of words because a lot depended on some phrases and words.  I read and re read and re read nth times every paragraph and sort of rewrote it in notes I could understand.  In the first part where you give examples and relate them to your theory I found myself understanding things much easier.

 

DEAR G., YOU ARE TRYING TO UNDERSTAND A RADICALLY NEW, VERY COMPLEX CONCEPTION WHICH HAS TAKEN ME ALMOST 50 YEARS TO EVOLVE -AND IN A VERY SHORT TIME.  YOU ARE ACTUALLY DOING PRETTY WELL FOR THE TIME YOU HAVE SPENT.  MY PROBLEM IS HOW TO COVER ALL THE BASES, (YANK-TALK FOR MEET EVERY CONCEIVABLE OBJECTION, AND STILL PRESENT THE OVERALL CONCEPTION.  BECAUSE IT IS ONLY AS A WHOLE THAT IT MAKES SENSE.

 

 

G.C.:  Maybe the concepts can be presented in a less summarized fashion, building the points in more steps for idiots like me who needed to reassemble much of the text in order to just understand the possible signifieds that the signifiers were relating to, taking up much of the effort needed to engage with the concept itself.

 

J.I.:  THIS IS GOOD FEEDBACK -AND PART OF THE ONGOING DIALOGUE I CONSTANTLY HAVE WITH MYSELF.  IT IS HARDER THAN YOU THINK, HOWEVER.  ("TOO MANY NOTES" -PRINCE'S COMMENT TO MOZART IN THE MOVIE “AMADEUS”.)

 

 

G.C.:  It could be just me, but I could not grasp any of the diagrams at all.  I could not make heads or tails as to the labeling and the symbols inside them or to where the arrows were pointing and why.  Again this is probably due to my not being a particularly bright receiver.

 

J.I.:  NONSENSE.  PICK A DIAGRAM AND I WILL TRY TO EXPLAIN IT.

 

 

G.C.:  A small note as to the meaning of some central terms such as global mapping, topology and so on might make it clearer for those that are unclear so to their meaning within the context of the essay.

 

J.I.:  THESE ARE MATHEMATICAL TERMS.  EDELMAN'S "GLOBAL MAPPING", (I THOUGHT I HAD CLARIFIED THIS IN THE TEXT), REFERS TO A NON-TOPOLOGICAL MAPPING FROM THE CORTICES TO THE BRAIN AS A WHOLE.  WHAT IS THIS "TOPOLOGY"?  IT IS THE FIELD OF MATHEMATICS, (GEOMETRY), WHICH DEALS WITH THOSE MATHEMATICAL MAPPINGS WHICH PRESERVE CONTIGUITY.  THE STANDARD EXAMPLE IS THAT OF A RUBBER SHEET.  WE MAY STRETCH IT OR BEND IT, AND STILL PRESERVE THE SAME RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN POINTS WHICH ARE CLOSE TO ONE ANOTHER.  THESE CASES WOULD BE "TOPOLOGICALLY EQUIVALENT".  WE ARE NOT ALLOWED, HOWEVER, TO CUT IT OR PASTE IT TO CLOSELY RELATE DISTANT OR UNRELATED POINTS.

 

G.C.: One last thing.  I find it much easier to follow when practical applications of complex theories are given as the argument is being developed so that I can relate them to my, using Dennett's term, heterophenomenological world.

Now I don’t know if I should send this mail or not for fear of being offensive. 

I hope you don’t think I’m criticizing your work in any way.  Far from it.  I just wanted to contribute by offering some sort of feedback of an average reader, (although you might have other audiences in mind).

 

Thanks again for taking time to read my mails, and once again I apologize if you found my comments offensive.

 

G.C.

 

NOT AT ALL. 

BEST REGARDS,

JERRY

 

Dear G.,

 

    Just a note to see how you are doing.  I hope you found my response helpful.  There are things I could add, and I think I misunderstood one of your questions, but I hope you are doing well.

 

Take care,

 

Jerry

 

G.C.  Hi, thanks for that.  which question was it ?

 

your response was VERY helpful.  In a months time I have to present a paper at the annual ******* conference so I had to put my thesis/consciousness stuff on hold till I’m done with that.

The paper I’ll be writing will propose a bridge between posthumanism and hypertextuality, posing hypertextuality (and non linear ways of thinking) as a possible mode of being for future generations who will be immersed in hypertextual technology such as the net and other electronic media.

 

I have not however given up on the consciousness issue and will resume my engaging with your work once this hurdle is overcome. 

 

Thanks for your interest and help.

 

G.C.

-------------------------END G.C. INTERCHANGE------------------------------------------------

 

-------------------------M.B. CORRESPONDENCE------------------------------------------------

#3:  Here is a letter, (the first of several I received from this correspondent.  The subsequent letters and responses were lost to the virus.  I am citing it to show the difficulty of meaningful recognition of my ideas.

Dear Mr. Iglowitz,

 

At the outset, let me express my deep feelings of admiration for the devotion and determination you've proved in the bearing and begetting of your huge piece of work on a possible explanation of consciousness.

 

I'm a graduate student in Cognitive Psychology (and a software developer in ###NAME###), about to finish my own thesis on chess expertise. I ran across your work accidentally a week ago, when performing one of my associative searches on the web.

 

As you well know, it is not, unfortunately, so simple to intake such a work which hasn't been admitted for publication, nor to cite it in a formal academic work, (MY EMPHASIS).

 

I do, however, find your ideas interesting - which may elevate your spirits but not help in any practical way since I'm in no status whatsoever to help you about it. Nor can I say anything about your ideas being right or wrong - since I do think that your theory is in the same danger as Freud's theory - if you create a closed system, than within the philosophy realm it's fine, but I think that you could do more to make your work more widespreadly known, namely to begin showing how it applies to well defined cognitive domains. This would help people who are less focused on deep philosophical ideas but who are more empirically oriented integrate your ideas into the regular scientific paradigm. In short, you must put your ideas to the test! It hasn't been on your side to be so self-assured about the importance of your work; people are only human and the sociological makeup of academy, well, it's not so "politically correct" to knock on the expert's door and tell him: "Hey, you

don't know anything about it! But I do!".

 

There is, nevertheless, one thing that I've been trying to think seriously about in the light of your work. Ever since I've started to research chess skill I more than suspected something fundamental is missing in the mainstream of cognitive science. Researchers talked about memory based, recognition-action models on one hand (e.g., Chase & Simon, 1972, etc.), and search, computational-evaluative models on the other (Holding, 1985; Holding & Reynolds, 1982, etc.), but neither of them excluded the other completely. I know you've not engaged in empirical research, so I won't bombard you with findings from this field.

 

I've begun to try to conceptualise the game of chess according to your framework. The problem I'm seeing is that I'm feeling that it directs my thoughts in a way that I'm able to explain everything, which is the same as not explaining anything. I'm not sure about this.

 

If I've got your thesis right, then the game of chess has no "real" existence but in the "heads" of the players. The physical board and pieces are implicitly defined by functions (the rules of the game), and the players are not separate from the game; they do not play a game, they live in it! (i.e., the game is virtual.) There is, however, something that is bothering me. The main theoretical problem of chess (as in life) is the one of selectivity of the contents of thought (Saariluoma, 1995). I know that the concept of selectivity faces huge problems within a strictly algorithmic, mechanistic view of the human mind. Chess experts are highly selective as to the base moves they begin their thinking from. It is a real problem of "chicken-and-egg" because to be able to select they need some sort of filter, i.e., function. But the models assert that the player would begin his search from these (seemingly more promising) moves, but how in the world he could know these moves were more promising, when this could be known only by looking at possible outcomes? The argument raised by recognition-action models is that the mere percept activates patterns or templates in LTM to which previous evaluations and possible strategies or even continuations are attached (associated). It doesn't explain too good, though, creativity in chess, for instance.

 

If you're willing, I'd be grateful to have your insights on these matters.

 

Sincerely Yours,

 

M.

 

-------------------------END M.B. CORRESPONDENCE-----------------------------------------

 

-------------------------S.I CORRESPONDENCE---------------------------------------------------

Here is some very recent correspondence.  I quote it to show the change in attitude -from very enthusiastic to a snubbing "stonewall".  He should be ashamed of himself.  If he really saw all these good things in my writings -but then stonewalled me -I presume because he saw my lack of credentials, then he is a coward.  I might at least have received a letter of explanation.  This would be common courtesy. 

(Incidentally, he published a paper of his own in the Journal of Consciousness studies which had rejected my submissions.)

This was the same case for D.C. in 1995 -he told me he was told by his Ph.D. advisor that he would have to drop any correspondence with me: aka “Internet Freak”  I can only assume that this correspondent stood in like case.  Why is academia so cowardly in its convictions?  I think Kuhn had it right!  Either you have a mind and use it for yourself or you are a child playing with dynamite.  The world needs real men, (persons –no sexist intent).

 

 

////~2007Dear Dr. Iglowitz, (He made the assumption of title -I do not have a Ph.D. and never said I did.)

 

 

I am writing this e-mail to you with joy, because your worldview (including the “reality” and the solution to the mind-body problem) is quite similar to mine.

 My name is S.I., Japanese.  I am a research veterinarian (pathologist), also studying philosophy at the graduate school of Letters, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.  My major in philosophy is epistemology (including philosophy of perception), based on cognitive biology. 

 Recently I had been searching on the Google for articles that discussed both Maturana and Kant, and I fortunately found out your book: “Virtual Reality: Consciousness Really Explained.”

 

I have been studying Maturana’s biology of cognition, and reached the same opinion with you: “Maturana and Varela's profound heuristic principle reduces their premise to absurdity -i.e. the metaphysical certitude of the ordinary Naturalist world-view from which they started. (p.107, Chapter 3)

 Although I read only your homepage and the précis, abstract, and Chapter 3 of your book,  I think they can sufficiently convince me that your solutions to the problems related to the external world and the mind-body relation are almost the same with me. I felt, “Oh, here’s my friend!”

 I have attached my three papers written in English, which are all related to Maturana more or less.

I hope you will be able to find some similarities in our worldview.

 With all the best wishes,

 S. I.

______________________________________________________________________________

Dear S…,

    I have managed to print your PDF files and have been reading them with interest.  I think your "handle" on Maturana is the correct one -we agree.

   You might want to note a passage in the "Mind-Brain:  the Argument from Evolutionary Biology" paper I referred you to on the issue of the "world as causes for our perceptual processes":

 

Quote:

"3.2 THE SPECIFIC CASE OF BIOLOGY

……….

But let’s talk about the “atomic” in the “atomic biological function” of the previous statement. There is another step in the argument to be taken at the level of biology. The “engineering” argument, (made above), deals specifically with the schematic manipulation of “data”. At the level of primitive evolution, however, it is modular (reactive) process that is significant to an organism, not data functions. A given genetic accident corresponds to the addition or modification of a given (behavioral/reactive) process which, for a primitive organism, is clearly and simply merely beneficial or not. The process itself is informationally indeterminate to the organism however -i.e. it is a modular whole. No one can presume that a particular, genetically determined response is informationally, (rather than reactively), significant to a Paramecium or an Escherichia coli, for example, (though we may consider it so). It is significant, rather, solely as a modular unit which either increases survivability or not. Let me therefore extend the prior argument to deal with the schematic organization of atomic, (modular), process, rather than of primitive, (i.e. absolute), data. It is my contention that the cognitive model, and cognition itself, is solely constituted as an organization of that atomic modular process, designed for computational and operational efficiency. The atomic processes themselves remain, and will forever remain, informationally indeterminate to the organism. "

 

Walter Freeman's and Edelmans's writings on the subject, (cited in the same paper), are also particularly relevant.

 

There is another passage in my book that might interest you -it occurs on P.73.  I quote:

 

"A crucial turning point in my argument:

  This, I maintain, constitutes the final physical answer to the mind-body problem.  Naturalists can accept this answer as complete, (and the problem as solved), if they like and dismiss any further questions.  But inherent in my thesis as well is the assertion that our objects are not representative and informational.  To believe that they could still remain so becomes, (under my thesis), equivalent to a hypothesis of "divine harmony", (possible but implausible).  This, (right here then), is a crucial turning point in my argument.  I hereby reorient the whole of my argument up to this point and declare it  as a reductio ad absurdum of ordinary Naturalism .  By this, I most definitely do not reject the relationality  of Naturalism or of Naturalist science.  But I do maintain that I have demonstrated the implausibility of absolute reference and absolute information.   The next chapters will elaborate this point explicitly and invoke a variation of Cassirer's scientific epistemological relativism, which preserves Naturalist science in a deeper realism.  The argument up to this point has been in the demonstration of a counterexample, -a significantly better counterexample I think- which fits the presumptions of Naturalism and the facts of the problem as seen from the Naturalist perspective.

The unity of consciousness, the unity of mind is a logical, a conceptual and operational, rather than a spatial unity.   The paradoxes of the Cartesian Theater do not derive from an innate flaw -or fantasy- in "mind"; they derive from a deficiency of ordinary logic.

"

 

 But my problem is much larger than just that one aspect.  Perhaps the most relevant of my papers for you would deal with Ernst Cassirer whom I consider to be the true heir of Immanuel Kant.  His "Theory of Symbolic Forms", (which I equate with ontic indeterminacy), allows a scientific statement of the deeper problem which you have correctly recognized.

    The problem with Cassirer's writing has to do with his "oblique" style, (as opposed with Kant's which I have always considered to be very direct and clear).  I have attempted to summarize Cassirer's "Theory of Symbolic Forms", (and enlarge it), in Chapter 4 of my book.  That chapter exists as a separate pdf file for download on my web page.  I attempted a simplification and alternative reinterpretation of Cassirer's ideas in the essay "Mind-Brain: an Introduction for Beginners" which I think worked pretty well.  This is at the end of that paper which treats the subject from the standpoint of mathematical "ideals" which may be a whole lot easier to understand for most people.

       You might want to look at these papers as I think they would add a significant dimension to your ideas.  The problem we have set ourselves is huge.

   About 4 years ago I suffered a whole series of strokes.  I am reasonably intact now, but with a lessened capacity.  I have been able to do some original and interesting work recently -e.g. the papers I have referred to you, but I would really like to make a second edition to my book.  We will see.  Perhaps I could use some help.

 

All in all, I liked your papers.  You have a good mind.

 

Best wishes,

 

Jerry

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Dear Jerry,

 I am very glad that you have read my papers and thank you for your kind and accurate comments on them, which have encouraged me so much.

 

I am now preparing to read Hilbert’s “implicit definition,” which I got to know from your work. I think this would be revolutionarily important to our way of thinking and writing, as you correctly indicated.  I will write you again after reading the articles you mentioned in the mail.

 

Are you in Honolulu now?   I hope you enjoy sunny days!

 

Keep in touch, please!

 

With all the best,

 

S.

 

-------------------------END S.I.CORRESPONDENCE--------------------------------------------

 

-----------------------------------BEGIN JCS CORRESPONDENCE------------------------------

 

  (Note:  I just located a printed version of my initial submission correspondence with the Journal of Consciousness Studies.  It was turned down by Anthony Freeman, (editor), after about 5 interchanges, but I think his early comments are suggestive and actually represent my further experience with JCS in subsequent submissions, (lost to Blaster Virus).  No matter which particular “slice” of my thesis I tried to present, (necessary because of the size limitations inherent in such a journal), I was usually given a backhanded compliment on what seemed obvious to the reviewers, but then was totally chastised for not answering the other huge aspects of the problem.  This happened again and again –over the course of about 5 different article submissions.  It illustrated the problem, (as Anthony Freeman initially saw clearly), of trying to compress a book into a free-standing, limited journal article.  I will copy my scanner converted copies of that initial correspondence immediately below.  I think it is relevant and instructive.  It is causing me to reorient my thinking and try it his way.

 

***Please note that I have given specific answers to one of the better JCS critiques in Chapter 12 of my 3rd edition:  “Virtual Reality: Consciousness Really Explained”.

 

THE ORIGINAL ANTHONY FREEMAN, (JCS), CORRESPONDENCE –SCANNED FROM SAVED PRINTED EMAIL

 

FREEMAN 1

 

From anthony@imprint.zynet.co.ukMon Jul 22 16:35:46 1996 Date: Mon, 22 Jul 1996 12:55:12 +0100 From: Anthony Freeman <anthony@imprint.zynet.co.uk> To: Jerry Iglowitz <jerryi@foothill.net>,

Jonathan shear <jcs@richmond.infi.net> Subject: Re: A request

Dear Jerry Iglowitz,

I write in response to your recent message.

In message <Pine.BSD/.3.91.960720182907.18707C-100000@nsl.foothill.net>, Jerry Iglowitz  <jerryi@foothi11.net> writes

>Dr. Shear informed me that he had

>forwarded my MS to you because you handle all the "non-'hard >problem' submissions" for the Journal of Consciousness Studies.

 

>   If you have had a chance to look at it, you will have seen that my submission constitutes a precis of exactly that: a tenative

>solution of the mind-body problem.

>

The papers which Dr Shear is handling are those which are specific responses to Dave Chalmers keynote 'hard problem' paper. There are obviously many papers which are concerned with mind-body problem but are not part of that symposium. Your submission is one such, and has quite properly been forwarded to me.

 

>

>P.S.  Did you receive the comments on my thesis by Dr. Walter Freeman, (UC/Berkeley), which I sent to Dr. Shear?

 

 

Yes, thank you.

Now I turn to your submission itself.

We have had a number of people send us papers which are closely related to forthcoming books or other much longer MSS, either in the form of an opening chapter, or an introduction, or a summary. There is an obvious attraction to an author in having a book "trailed" by means of such an article, but our experience has been that these submissions simply do not "work" as papers for the Journal of Consciousness Studies. Much time has been wasted by authors and editors alike, trying to make a submission fit a format which is not appropriate. I fear that your own example would become another of these.

 

As you yourself say, it *is* a very complicated thesis. If we were to send the segment of chapter one and the abstract which you have sent us out to referees, a host of questions would be raised by them which you would only be able to answer by reference to other parts of the book.  This is not satisfactory from anyone's point of view.

 

My advice would be to get straight on and publish your book. If, however, you do wish to submit an article to JCS, then it needs to be a free-standing, fully referenced paper in its own right, quite separate from your larger publication.

Yours sincerely,

Anthony Freeman.

 

Anthony Freeman (UK Managing Editor, Journal of Consciousness

Studies)

Imprint Academic, PO Box 1, Thorverton, Devon EX5 5YX, UK

Tel.   +44 (0)1392 841600

Fax.   +44 (0)1392 841478

Emai1: anthony@imprint.co.uk

 

FREEMAN 2

 

Dear Dr. Freeman,

I have read your response and see your point. I am including below what I believe is a free-standing article based on the fragment I sent you and deleting all reference to my MS. I think it addresses a major element of the question of mind and does not cite nor require my book in any way.

Would it work this way as an article, do you think? Jerry Iglowitz

 

**********************A NON-REPRESENTATIVE MODEL ***********************

Jerome Iglowitz

jerryi@foothi11.net

 

Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela's "The Tree of Knowledge", (1987), is a detailed and compelling argument, based in the very foundations of physical science and biology, against even the _possibility_ of a biological organism's possession of a representative model of its environment.   (cf Freeman, 1995). These respected biologists argue, moreover, against "information" itself.  They maintain that information _never passes_ between the environment and organisms; there is only the "triggering" of structurally determinate organic forms.  I believe that theirs is the inescapable conclusion of current science.

The present paper is not intended to establish that conclusion, however.  It is not primarily argumentative, but constructive.  It presents a specific and constructive counterproposal for _another_ model, ("the schematic operative model"), which, contrary to the case of the representative model, _does_ remain viable within the critical context of modern science.  I believe that we as human organisms do, in fact, embody a model.  I believe it is the stuff of mind!

THE SCHEMATIC MODEL, (what is an "object"?):

1. _Representative_ models are not the only possible kinds of models. Nor is representation a model's only conceivable use. Consider the models of our mundane training seminars, for instance. "'Motivation' plus 'technique' yields 'sales'.", we might hear at a sales meeting. Or, "'Self-awareness of the masses' informed by 'Marxist-dialectic' produces 'revolution'!", we might hear from our local revolutionary. Visual aids, (models), are ever present. The lecturer stands at a chalkboard and asks us to accept drawings of triangles, squares, cookies, horseshoes... _as objects_ -with a calculus of relations between them- as standins for concepts or processes like "motivation", "the nuclear threat", "sexuality", "productivity", and "evolution". In these representations, the objects do not stand in place of _entities_ in objective reality, however. (What _is_ “a productivity" or “a sexuality", for instance?) The function of the objects, _as_objects_, in these "schematic models" is, rather, specifically to illustrate, to enable,to_crystallize_and_simplify_ the_very_calculus_ _of_relation_proposed _between_them_! (cf Cassirer, 1953).

The objects are an expression of the calculus, not the converse. The objects of these models serve to organize process, (analysis or response); they are _not_ representations of actual objects or actual entities in reality. _These_ objects functionally bridge reality in a way that physical objects do not. They are, in fact, metaphors. The rationale for using them, (as any good "seminarian" would tell you), is clarity, organization and efficiency.

2. Instrumentation and control systems provide another example of the non-representational use of models and "entities".  Their objects need not mirror objective reality either.  A gauge, a readout display, a control device, (the "objects" of such systems), need not mimic a single parameter -or an actual physical entity.  Indeed, in the monitoring of a _complex_ or _critical_ process, it should not.  Rather, the readout, for instance, should represent an efficacious synthesis of _just_those_aspects_ of the process which are relevant to response, and be crystallized around those relevant responses!  A warning light or a status indicator, for instance, need not refer to just one parameter.  It may refer to electrical overload and/or excessive pressure and/or...  Or it may refer to an optimal relationship, (perhaps a _complexly_ _functional_ relationship), between many parameters -to a relationship between temperature, volume, mass, etc. in a chemical process, for instance.

The exactly parallel case holds for its control devices.  A single control may orchestrate a multiplicity of (possibly disjoint) objective responses.  The accelerator pedal in a modern automobile, as a simple example, may integrate fuel injection volumes, spark timing, transmission gearing...

(Ideally instrumentation and control would unify in the _same_ "object".  We would manipulate "the object" of the display itself and_it_ would be the control device.  Think about this in relation to our ordinary "objects of perception" -in relation to the sensory-motor coordination of the brain and the problem of naive realism!)

3. A "war room", (a high-tech military command center resembling a computer game), is a viable, though primitive, example of such a usage.  It is specifically a schematic model, expressly designed for maximized response.  The all-weather landing display in a jetliner supplies another example.

4. The "object" in the graphic user interface, (GUI), of a computer is perhaps the best example available.  In my simplistic manipulation of the schematic objects of a computer's GUI, I am, in fact, effecting and coordinating quite diverse and disparate -and unbelievably complex- operations at the physical level of the computer, operations impossible, (in a practical sense), to accomplish directly.  What that object represents and what its manipulation does, at the physical level, can be exceedingly complex and disjoint.  The disparate voltages and physical locations, (or operations), represented by a single "object", and the (possibly different) ones effected by manipulating it, correlate to "an object" only in this "schematic" sense. _Its_efficacy_lies_in_the_simplicity_of_the_ _"calculus"_it_enables_!

5. Consider, finally, a formal and abstract problem.  Consider the problem of designing instrumentation for the efficient control of _both_ especially complex _and_ especially dangerous processes.  In the general case, what kind of information would you want to pass along and how would you best represent it? How would you design your display and control system?

It would be impossible, obviously, to represent _all_ information about the objective physical reality of a, (any), process or its physical components, (objects).  Where would you stop? Is the color of the building in which it is housed, the specific materials of which it is fabricated, that it is effected with gears rather than levers, -or its location in the galaxy-necessarily relevant information?  (Contrarily, even its designer/s middle name might be relevant if it involved a computer program and you were considering the possibility of a hacker's "back door"!)  It would be counterproductive even if you could as relevant data would be obscured and the "calculus" would be too complex and inefficient for rapid and effective response.  Even the use of realistic _abstractions_ could produce enormous difficulties in that you might be interested in many differing, (and, typically, conflicting), significant abstractions and/or their interrelations.  This would produce severe difficulties in generating an intuitive and efficient "calculus" geared towards maximal response.

For such a complex and dangerous process, the "entities" you create must, (1) necessarily, of course, be viable in relation to both data and control -i.e. they must be comprehensive in their function.  But they would also, (2) need to be constructed with a primary intent towards efficiency of response, (rather than realism), as well -the process _is_, by stipulation, dangerous! They would need to be fashioned to optimize the "calculus" while still fulfilling their (perhaps consequently distributed!) operative role.

Your "entities" would need to be fabricated in such a way as to intrinsically define a _simple_ operative calculus of relationality between them -analogous to the situation in our training seminar.  Maximal efficiency, (and safety), therefore, would demand crystallization into schematic _virtual_ "entities"

which would resolve both demands at a single stroke.  Your objects would then distribute function so as to concentrate and simplify control, (operation)!  These virtual entities would be in no necessarily simple (or hierarchical -i.e. via abstraction) correlation with the objects of physical reality.  But they _would_ allow rapid and effective control of a process which, considered objectively, might not be simple at all.  It is clearly the optimization of the process of response that is crucial here, not literal representation.  We do not _care_ that the operator knows what function(s) he is actually fulfilling, only that he does it (them) well!

6. Biological survival is exactly such a problem -it is both especially complex _and_ especially dangerous.  It is a moment by moment confrontation with disaster.  It is a schematic model in just this sense that I propose that evolution constructed, and I propose that it is the basis for both the "percept" and the "mind".  But it is just the _converse_ of the argument made above that I propose for evolution.  It is not the _distribution_ of function, but rather the _centralization_ of disparate atomic biological function into efficacious schematic -and virtual-objects that evolution effected while compositing the complex metacellular organism.  (These are clearly just the complementary perspectives on the same issue.)

But let's talk about the "atomic" in the "atomic biological function" of the previous statement.  There is another step in the argument, to be taken at the level of biology.  The "engineering" argument, as made above, deals specifically with the schematic manipulation of "data".  At the level of primitive evolution, however, it is modular (reactive) process that is significant to an organism, not data functions.  A given genetic accident corresponds to the addition or modification of a given (behavioral/reactive) process which, for a primitive organism, is clearly simply either beneficial or not.  But that process is itself informationally indeterminate to the organism -i.e. it is a modular whole.  No one can presume that a particular, genetically determined response is informationally, (rather than reactively), significant to a Paramecium or an Eschericia coli, for example, (though _we_ may consider it so).  It is significant, rather, solely as a modular unit which either increases survivability or not.  Let me therefore extend the prior argument to deal with the schematic organization of atomic, (modular), process, rather than of primitive, (i.e. absolute), data.  It is my contention that the cognitive model, and cognition itself, is solely constituted as an organization of that atomic modular process, designed for computational and operational efficiency. The atomic processes themselves remain, and will forever remain, informationally indeterminate to the organism.

The purpose of the model was computational simplicity!  The calculational simplicity of the schematic object for dealing with a multifarious environment constitutes a clear and powerful evolutionary rationale.  Such a model, (the "objects" and their "calculus"), allows rapid and efficient response to what cannot be assumed, a priori, to be a simplistic environment.  From the viewpoint of the sixty trillion or so cells that constitute the human cooperative enterprise, _that_ assumption, (environmental simplicity), is implausible in the extreme!

But theirs, (i.e. _that_ perspective), is the most natural perspective from which to consider the problem.  For five-sixths of evolutionary history, (three billion years), it was the one-celled organism which ruled alone.  As Stephen Gould puts it, metacellular organisms represent only occasional and instable spikes from the stable "left wall", (the unicellulars), of evolutionary history.

"Progress does not rule, (and is not even a primary thrust of) the evolutionary process.  For reasons of chemistry and physics, life arises next to the 'left wall' of its simplest conceivable and preservable complexity.  This style of life (bacterial) has remained most common and most successful.  A few creatures occasionally move to the right... "

"Therefore, to understand the events and generalities of life's pathway, we must go beyond principles of evolutionary theory to a paleontological examination of the contingent pattern of life's history on our planet. ...Such a view of life's history is highly contrary both to conventional deterministic models of Western science and to the deepest social traditions and psychological hopes of Western culture for a history culminating in humans as life's highest expression and intended planetary steward."(Gould, 1994)

RETRODICTION:

Do you not find it strange that the fundamental laws of the sciences, (or of logic), are _so_few_? Or that our (purportedly) accidentally and evolutionarily acquired logic works _so_well_ to manipulate the objects of our environment? From the standpoint of contemporary science, this is a subject of wonder -or at least it _should_ be. (cf contra: Minsky, 1985)   It is, in fact, a miracle!  From the standpoint of the schematic model, however, it is a  trivial,  (obvious),  and  necessary  consequence. _It_is_precisely_the_rationale_for_the_model_itself!

Evolution, in constructing a metacellular organism such »as ours, was confronted with the problem of coordinating the physical structure of its thousands of billions of individual cells.  It also faced the problem of coordinating the response of this colossus, this "Aunt Hillary", (Hofstadter's  "sentient” ant colony  .   Hofstadter,  1979).   It had to coordinate their functional interaction with their environment, raising an organizational problem of profound proportions. 

Evolution was forced to deal with exactly the problem/outline above.  The brain, moreover, is universally accepted as/an evolutionary organ of response.  I propose that a schematic entity, (and its corresponding schematic model), is by far the most credible here -to efficiently orchestrate t coordination of the ten million sensory neurons with/ the one million motor neurons, (Maturana and Varela, 1987 )/ A realistic, (i.e. representational/informational), "entity" would demand a concomitant "calculus" embodying the very complexity of the objective reality in which the organism exists, and this, I argue, is overwhelmingly implausible.

REFERENCES :

1. Cassirer, Ernst. "The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms". (Translation by Ralph Manheim) .  Yale University Press. 1953

2. Freeman, Walter.  "Societies of Brains". Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.  1995

3. Gould, Stephen Jay.  "The evolution of Life on the Earth".

4. Hofstadter, Douglas.  "Goedel, Escher, Bach".  Vintage, 1979

5. Maturana, Humberto and Varela, Francisco. "The Tree of Knowledge".  Shambala Press, 1987

6. Minsky, Marvin.  "The Society of Mind".  Touchstone, 1985

 

FREEMAN 3

From anthony@imprint.zynet.co.ukTue Jul 23 14:43:00 1996

Date: Tue, 23 Jul 1996 08:28:17 +0100

From: Anthony Freeman <anthony@imprint.zynet.co.uk>

To: Jerry Iglowitz <jerryi@foothill.net>

Subject: Re: Would this work?

In message

<Pine.BSD/.3.91.960722175053.4363A-100000@nsl.foothill.net>,

Jerry Iglowitz  <jerryi@foothill.net> writes

>Dear Dr.   Freeman,

>

> I have read your response and see your point.  I am including below what I believe is a free-standing article based on the >fragment I sent you and deleting all reference to my MS.  I think it addresses a major element of the question of mind and does not cite nor require my book in any way.

 

>  Would it work this way as an article, do you think?

 

Dear Jerry,

So far as the form of the paper is concerned, this is much more suitable, and I shall put it through the normal review process. As for content, we shall have to see what the referees have to say! I will convert the email version into a properly word-processed document before sending it out.

Best wishes, Anthony.

Anthony Freeman (UK Managing Editor, Journal of Consciousness

Studies)

Imprint Academic, PO Box 1, Thorverton, Devon EX5 5YX, UK

Tel.   +44 (0)1392 841600

Fax.   +44 (0)1392 841478

Email: anthony@imprint.co.uk

 

FREEMAN 4

From anthony@imprint.zynet.co.ukSun Aug 18 03:03:24 1996

Date: Fri, 16 Aug 1996 11:34:29 +0100

From: Anthony Freeman <anthony@imprint.zynet.co.uk>

To: Jerry Iglowitz <jerryi@foothill.net>

Subject: A non-representational model

Dear Jerry

I sent your paper out to a reviewer I had reason to believe would be "friendly". Here is his reply, just received:

“Report on *A non-representational model - Jerry Iglowitz*

 

Although I am sympathetic to Iglowitz's approach, I find the MS very confusing and somewhat contradictory. The argument needs to be fleshed-out with connecting ideas included. As it stands now, it seems to be a jumble of ideas with (maybe) a central theme, but what that is exactly is unclear.

I would advise that you reject the paper as is and tell Iglowitz that if he wishes to resubmit, he must prepare a longer, more linear and better argued MS. I'd be happy to write a longer and more substantive review of a complete article.”

 

In addition, I would ask him the question: What does this have to do with consciousness?

On the strength of the above (which chimes in with my own reaction to your initial submission) I invite you to revise the paper and re-submit it. This does not guarantee publication, but at least you know that you have one sympathetic reviewer lined up who will take what you say seriously. The revised paper would also be sent to an inhouse reader and one further external referee.

Best wishes, Anthony.

Anthony Freeman (UK Managing Editor, Journal of Consciousness

Studies)

Imprint Academic, PO Box 1, Thorverton, Devon EX5 5YX, UK

Tel.   +44 (0)1392 841600

Fax.   +44 (0)1392 841478

Email: anthony@imprint.co.uk

 

FREEMAN 5

From anthony@imprint.zynet.co.ukThu Aug 29 02:05:22 1996

Date: Tue, 27 Aug 1996 10:42:35 +0100

From: Anthony Freeman <anthony@imprint.zynet.co.uk>

Cc: Jerry Iglowitz <jerryi@foothill.net>

Subject: Re: A few questions

Dear Jerry,

Thanks for your queries.

>

>     1.   What is a reasonable top limit for length for a submission?   >As you have said, mine is a *very* complicated hypothesis, and to >flesh out this single aspect would take some space.

 

9,000 words (including notes and references) is our normal limit, but occasionally we print something which is longer than this. If much more space is needed, we sometimes suggest a two-part article, but we obviously have to be persuaded that the argument presented warrants this much space. (If you are including any "heavy" maths, this should be put into an appendix. It will still be included in the word-count, but its breaching the 9,000 word limit will be less serious.) >

>  2.  Would it be possible for you to forward the "Extended >Abstract" I sent you to this reviewer?  In it I dealt with his >specific  question:  "What  does  this  have  to  do  with consciousness?"

 

I do not think this is necessary. This reviewer had that particular question asked of his own submission to JCS (which was subsequently published) and I think his comment may have been slightly tongue-in-cheek, and aimed more at me than at you!

>I feel I am in a "catch-22" situation:  I couldn't refer to my MS, >(by fiat -yours! :-) ), and then am faulted for not doing so. >Would this reviewer be interested in looking at the draft of my >book which answers the question in full?  It would be a simple >matter to MIME-EMail it to him.  If he chose to retain his >anonymity, I could send it to you and you could forward it.  I >realize that articles must be self-standing, and I intended this >one to be free-standing only *as an aspect* of the problem of >consciousness.

 

It has always been clear to me that your brief article (submitted in its present form by my "fiat") will need to be fleshed out for publication. What I needed to know from this referee was "whether there was "likely to be anything worthwhile at the end of the process. The answer to that question that I hear is "yes — time spent on the paper will not be wasted".

 

I do not, however, think it would be a good idea to send him your draft book. Much better to send him a MS in the form you intend for publication in JCS, so that it can be judged on its own merits.

>

>  3.  Would you be willing to submit my article to another reviewer -hopefully one with a mathematical background? Those >seem to be the ones who understand it best.

>

We should certainly send the expanded MS to a second referee, and I shall be happy to make it one of our mathematical reviewers. But remember that the majority of your readers in JCS will not have a maths background.

>Thank you for your response and kind efforts.

>

>Jerry

>

And thank *you* for seeing my role as one which is intended to be helpful and supportive — even if it does not always feel like that. Remember that my job depends upon maintaining a flow of good articles for the journal, so I am as keen as you are to see your paper published. And it is in all our interests to see that it is as good as possible.

Best wishes, Anthony.

Anthony Freeman (UK Managing Editor, Journal of Consciousness

Studies)

Imprint Academic, PO Box 1, Thorverton, Devon EX5 5YX, UK

Tel.   +44 (0)1392 841600

Fax.   +44 (0)1392 841478

Email: anthony@imprint.co.uk

 

FREEMAN 6

September 1, 1996 Dear Anthony,

First let me thank you for your kind and encouraging letter of August 29th. I am in the middle of some very nasty personal, (economic), circumstances here and it made my day brighter.

 

I am attaching a copy of the first revision of my proposed article as a MIME EMail attachment. It is an IBM WordPerfect 4.1 binary file and should be readable on any later version of WordPerfect or Microsoft Word. (This is the latest version they produced for my old Amiga.) This will hopefully save you the trouble of reformatting it.

 

As you will see, I have added an introduction to place it in the context of the problem of "consciousness", and have appended a brief statistical argument for its plausibility. I don't really like statistical arguments very much, (as I have noted), but think it is alright so far as it goes, and it fits the space restrictions. (I had relegated this to an appendix in my MS.) I would appreciate your's and your referee's comments on it.

So where do we go from here? Will you and I "duel it out", ( :-) ), until we arrive at a version that you think suitable for resubmission to the referee, or will this version be passed on as is, (assuming you think it is not *too* terrible)?

I have been having some trouble rectifying his objections to the original article though, as I really, (literally), don't understand them. They are *very* general and don't give specific instances. This is almost exactly the same text I sent to Walter Freeman and which he characterized as "compelling". Apparently *he* thought it was cogent. Perhaps it is a question of context? I am not arguing with you or your referee, however -if it is not clear then it is *my* fault and I will strive mightily to fix it. I just need the feedback to do so.

 

Would you please convey to the referee that I have made a "good faith" effort towards his objections in this draft but that I need more detailed and specific feedback, (objections and citations)-which I truly desire -to do more. I see this as a progressive process of refinement.

Incidentally, I have purposely over-"!"'d, and used CAPS and underlines in this version that I realize must be removed in the final version. I have left them in for now to (hopefully) clarify my line of argument for you and the referee. If you cannot see the statuary you are liable to break off an arm in trying to polish it! :-)

 

Please look over this revision and, if you think it is suitable, please forward it to your referee.

 

Thanks again:-and let me know what you think.

 

Jerry

 

FREEMAN 7

From anthony@imprint.zynet.co.ukWed Jan  8 17:14:54 1997

Date: Wed, 8 Jan 1997 16:24:26 +0000

From: Anthony Freeman <anthony@imprint.zynet.co.uk>

To: Jerry Iglowitz <jerryi@foothill.net>

Subject: Referee's Report on your paper

Dear Jerry,

K

Here at last is my math reviewer's report on your paper. As you will see, we are back with the problems (which I raised right at the outset) of trying to adapt an introductory chapter to be free-standing paper.

Referee's report on Iglowitz,  "Mind as a non-representational model"

[My convention: double inverted commas are either actual quotations or "scare quotes" ; single inverted commas are used to form the name of a word.]

 

I enjoyed reading what I took to be the introduction to this paper, until I found myself reading the Conclusions and realised that this was all there was. I cannot recommend publication, for reasons indicated below.

 

Sections I and II are a defence of the philosophical position that mind cannot be regarded as a representation of external reality (whatever supporters of this position might mean by the last two words ) , and drawing out the consequence that , once this idea is abandoned, then the problem of intentionality - how it comes about that a certain mental representation "means" a corresponding external object - disappears, as does the homunculus and other related problems. The idea that the mind is not representation is not original (as the author, who makes clear his debt to Cassirer, would no doubt be happy to admit). In view of its long pedigree, the author makes very heavy weather of the idea: in referring to "terrible consequences" he expects his readers to be shocked by the novelty of an idea that has in essence been around since Kant.

 

Section III is a "statistical"  (actually, combinatorial) argument

which is intended to reinforce what has already been(convincingly-albeit ponderously, argued in sections I and II. For me it tended to detract from the argument. I found it difficult to follow, because the author was demolishing the representational position without having explicitly enunciated, in detailed quantitative terms, just what the representational position was. What the author is in fact demolishing is the hypothesis that "Evolution would have had the problem of progressively correlating a model with each, (or some significant portion), of the possibilities of the sensory array - and with potential response as well." As with any "Aunt Sally" type of argument, it is necessary to be very precise about what it is that one is demolishing in order to do the job well; and this then enables the opponent to reply that this was not in fact what his position was. In the case in point here, the proponent of representations might reply that, in order to achieve a representation that was accurate most of the time, evolution would not have to check out "some significant portion" of the sensory inputs, but it could instead adopt a Monte Carlo approach and optimise performance with respect to a large randomly chosen number of such inputs. The success of the Monte Carlo approach to simulation lies in the fact that the probability of failure depends not on the size of the space that is being sampled from, but on the size of the sample. Good success could be achieved with a sample size well below the l0A102 allowed by the author's maximal evolutionary model,

 

At this point, after two unsurprising sections and one unconvincing section, the paper essentially stops. No dent has yet been made, however, on the problems of consciousness as they are likely to be perceived by the readers of JCS (including myself). The adoption of a non-representational position shifts the locus of these problems. Given that I have a world consisting of perceptual and conceptual objects (i.e. operational constructs) which I denote by terms such as 'trees', 'despair', 'redness', 'brains' etc, is it possible to envisage how last mentioned of these constructs could itself embody a world analogous to that of my own? If the answer is, no that can't be done because it would involve a fundamental confusion of categories, then we encounter severe difficulties of the "other minds" type of philosophical problem. If, however, it is admitted that what I call a 'brain' might itself form operational constructs and this might thereby explain what I am myself doing all the time, then are we not back in almost exactly the same place as we started? Namely, we have to explain how it is that a pattern of neuronal firing can have the attributes that I designate by the word 'tree'. The only gain is that we no longer have the additional problem of hooking it onto a postulated external "real" tree, and this gain may in fact be a loss for those who hold that the real tree may play a role in establishing the qualia of our percepts. I make these remarks not to criticise the author's position, but to sketch out the field into which some inroad must be made if the paper is to become* publishable, and not read like an introduction to something else.

==========;===

Anthony Freeman (UK Managing Editor, Journal of Consciousness

Studies)

Imprint Academic, PO Box 1, Thorverton, Devon EX5 5YX, UK

Tel.   +44 (0)1392 841600

Fax.   +44 (0)1392 841478

Emai1: anthony@ imprint.co.uk

 

 

FREEMAN 7

From jerryi@foothi11.netThu Jan  9 17:10:42 1997

Date: Thu, 9 Jan 1997 17:10:03 +0000 (GMT)

From: Jerry Iglowitz <jerryi@foothi11.net>

To: "Revd. Anthony Freeman" <anthony@imprint.co.uk>

January 9, 1997 Dear Anthony,

I have just received your letter and the response from your Mathematical Reviewer.  I am disappointed, of course.

I am in somewhat of a quandry.  If this were a published review of my published article, I do not think that I would have much trouble in answering it as I do not consider it a very perceptive reading.   But this is *your* reviewer, so I must ask how it is you wish me to respond.  I certainly do not wish to be ungracious or to put you "in the middle".

 

I shall, therefore, await your desires, (do you wish me to comment at this time?), and those of the original referee before I reply and only wish you a Happy New Year -which I most sincerely do.

Best wishes,

Jerry.

P.S.  When do you expect the original referee will respond?

 

FREEMAN 8

From anthony@imprint. zynet. co. ukSat Jan 11 00:43:09 1997

Date: Fri , 10 Jan 1997 16:10:40 +0000

From: Anthony Freeman <anthony@imprint . zynet .co.uk>

To: Jerry Iglowitz <jerryi@foothill .net>

Subject: JCS Submission

In messag <Pine. BSD/. 3. 91. 970109010802. 5387A-100000@nsl . foothill .net> , Jerry Iglowitz < jerryi@f oothill .net> writes

> I am in somewhat of a quandry. If this were a published review >of my published article, I do not think that I would have much >trouble in answering it as I do not consider it a very perceptive >reading. But this is *your* reviewer, so I must ask how it is you wish >me to respond. I certainly do not wish to be ungracious or to put you >"in the middle".

He is my reviewer but it is your paper. By all means answer his challenges (bearing in mind also what is said below) and send me a further revision, if you wish. ~~~

>P.S. >

When do you expect the original referee will respond?

He replied so long ago that I had forgotten that I had not passed on his(brief) comments, viz:

"I actually like Iglowitz' ideas, but not his style and method of presentation. He thinks the reader knows (or should know) what he is talking about and so leaves a whole lot unsaid. In consequence much of his argument is left undone, with apparent non sequitors etc. If he will re-write it with proper deference to his readers, I will gladly look at it again, but in its present/form it is not publishable."

Best wishes/ Anthony. /

Anthony Freeman (UK Managing Editor, Journa

Studies)

Imprint Academic, PO Box 1, Thorverton, Devon

Tel.   +44 (0)1392 841600 j

Fax.   +44 (0)1392 841478

Email: anthony@imprint.co.uk

of Consciousness 5YX, UK

 

FREEMAN 9

 

» Let's see what the sympathetic reviewer has to say.

»

» I am very interested in his response.

>I have now heard from the reviewer. The relevant part of his

>response is as follows:

>

>"... this is not a matter of tenor, but continuity. There are

>fragments of very original thinking there, but not the connective

>tissue which allows me to evaluate it.  I don't understand what

>he is driving at in the way that I need to evaluate a paper."

>

>I am afraid that I really must draw a line at this point, and say

>that we cannot accept the paper for JCS.

>

>Best wishes,

>

>Anthony.

Dear Anthony,

I am, of course, disappointed but I would like to express my appreciation to you for your efforts in my behalf. I will not try to argue either with you or your "sympathetic reviewer". Your decisions are your decisions.

Since this may be my last words with you, however, let me try to give, as objectively and calmly as possible, my opinions in the matter.

I think the real problem is that this is a very new and different idea and just doesn't fit into the old molds. Is that megalomania? Perhaps, and perhaps not. I have twice asked for a single illustration -a specific case- where I have not served the needs of my readers, assumed that they know what I am talking about or seemed to commit a non sequitor. What I have been answered is generalities only. His final response is another exact instance of this. I feel he is doing to me exactly what he says I am doing to my reader.

If, indeed, he thinks with Walter Freeman and others that I have something original and valuable to say, then a proper response would have been a question, or a specific, pointed objection to at least one physical place in my paper that would have allowed an answer or illustrated a deficiency or discontinuity.

I can sympathize with his difficulty, but not with his unwillingness to expose it to view. This is an analytic conception, analytically argued -very much in the spirit of Kant. I had hoped to expand it in a dialogue within your pages. That there are many questions to be answered, I fully realize. But they must be asked first.

 

Let me close this letter with a very different response to my ideas. It is from Dr. Blaise Lara, a respected mathematician at the University of Lausanne, much involved in information theory and the mind-brain problem:

"Dear Mr Iglowitz

You are not under misapprehension. I am VERY sympathetic with your scientific and philosophical viewpoints. And after reading this morning your last message I feel sincerely concerned by your personal situation. Unfortunately I am also under heavy constraints of another kind (my wife's health) and that explains my lasting silence.

As a matter of fact, I was preparing an answer containing detailed comments on the border of almost every two pages of your manuscript.  Please believe Mr Iglowitz on my deep sympathy with your ideas. I even suspect a kind of spiritual brotherhood among us. This spontaneous manifestation does not sound like a very academic statement or manifestation. But the hell with the academy in front of the personal and intimate adventure of the few real men we have the fortune of meeting from time to time.

My sincere regards

Blaise Lara"

With my warmest thanks, Jerry

 

FREEMAN 9

Frqm anthony@imprint.zynet.co.ukTue Jan 28 18:29:04 1997

Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 09:26:34 +0000

From: Anthony Freeman <anthony@imprint.zynet.co.uk>

To: Jerry Iglowitz <jerryi@foothill.net>

Subject: Draw a line

Dear Jerry,

In message <Pine.BSD/.3.91.970113214109.16484C-100000@nsl.foothill.net>, Jerry Iglowitz  <jerryi@foothill.net> writes

> Let's see what the sympathetic reviewer has to say.

>

> I am very interested in his response.

I have now heard from the reviewer. The relevant part of his response is as follows:

"... this is not a matter of tenor, but continuity. There are fragments of very original thinking there, but not the connective tissue which allows me to evaluate it. I don't understand what he is driving at in the way that I need to evaluate a paper."

I am afraid that I really must draw a line at this point, and say that we cannot accept the paper for JCS.

Best wishes, Anthony.

Anthony Freeman (UK Managing Editor, Journal of Consciousness

Studies)

Imprint Academic, PO Box 1, Thorverton, Devon EX5 5YX, UK

Tel.   +44 (0)1392 841600

Fax.   +44 (0)1392 841478

Emai1: anthony@imprint.co.uk

 

 

_________________________ End JCS Correspondence ______________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

A PROPOSED RESPONSE TO ONE (FOUND) JCS REVIEW BELOW:

(NOTE:  I INCORPORATED MUCH OF THIS MATERIAL IN CHAPTER 12 OF MY NEW BOOK:  “Virtual Reality: Consciousness…”, (Third Edition)).

 

  The following is a set of excerpts from an anonymous reviewer for the Journal of Consciousness Studies in response to one of my submissions.  I was frankly unable to properly respond in the time frame as I am not merely citing or enlarging someone else’s theories, but must frame original ideas to meet specific questions and this is harder than you think.  His critique would clearly apply to anyone else with views similar to mine.  I will simply quote his comments verbatim and interleave short answers to his objections.

 

“No dent has yet been made, however, on the problems of consciousness as they are likely to be perceived by the readers of JCS (including myself).  The adoption of a non-representational position shifts the locus of these problems.  Given that I have a world consisting of perceptual and conceptual objects (i.e. operational constructs) which I denote by terms such as 'trees', 'despair', 'redness', 'brains' etc, is it possible to envisage how [the] last mentioned of these constructs", [the brain], "could itself embody a world analogous to that of my own?” 

 

(Short form answer:  It is in fact quite possible through the Edelman/Freeman/Merleau-Ponty feedback loop described in the “Mind: the Argument…” paper.  The key concept is “reafferance”.  See the appendix to that paper.  A pictorial version of this answer is contained in that paper, and exists on my web site as “A Compound Perspective: Freeman and Beyond”.  Reafferance allows preexisting cortical objects to be reused, (as “a-d converters” so to speak, and reaffirmed), by subsequent feedback leading to more sophisticated response and comparison with theoretical predictions. It does not, however, imply anything further about the absolute world –i.e. ontology.  But how can we describe it thusly?  The thesis of symbolic forms will provide the answer.  (See my Chapter 4.)

 

“If the answer is, no that can't be done,” he answers himself, “because it would involve a fundamental confusion of categories”,

 

(Short form answer -this is a "straw man" argument: I do not in fact answer “no”, but rather “yes” it can be done if we accept Ernst Cassirer’s, (Neo-Kantian), thesis of “Symbolic Forms” which is a scientific thesis of absolute epistemological relativism.   This goes quite beyond Kant’s original conceptions which I presume this critic assumed I held.  Cassirer’s thesis preserves science as organization only while necessarily relegating the ontological object itself to become “a mere X” –i.e. an existent, but unknowable quantity.)

 

“ then we encounter severe difficulties of the "other minds" type of philosophical problem.”

 

( Short form answer:  This is a totally separate subject which I have addressed and will again address later.  Remember: I answered “yes”, not “no”.  We both posit “other minds”: he as deductively logical necessities, myself as necessary components of realist belief, -i.e. of the necessary intentional “axioms” of realism itself which I have expounded).

 

“If, however, it is admitted”, he continues his dialogue with himself,  “that what I call a 'brain' might itself form operational constructs and this might thereby explain what I am myself doing all the time, then are we not back in almost exactly the same place as we started? 

 

(Short form answer:  This is again an instance of ‘reafferance’.  In the Appendix to the “Mind: the Argument…”, I argued that in the brain “reafferance” feeds back through the same loop and the same evolutionary cortical constructs to yield a working tool –i.e. it is a purely pragmatic tool for the non-hierarchical distribution of input.)

 

“Namely, we have to explain how it is that a pattern of neuronal firing can have the attributes that I designate by the word 'tree'. The only gain is that we no longer have the additional problem of hooking it onto a postulated external "real" tree, and this gain may in fact be a loss for those who hold that the real tree may play a role in establishing the qualia of our percepts. “

 

(Short form answer:  The “real tree”, under my thesis would correspond, I think, to something like one of Eleanor Rosch’s “prototypes”.  Those prototypes, I believe, are evolutionarily defined (and pragmatic) cortical constructs.  The problem, which still remains, is how we are able to use such ontological language at all, (e.g. “cortical constructs”).  Cassirer’s theory of “Symbolic Forms” provides a plausible and, for the first time, a truly scientific rationale.  A legitimate counterquestion would ask if the allowance of an actual mind -e.g. a viable Cartesian theatre might be worth the price I asked of him?  Our ordinary world gets strange, I admit, but our mental world begins to be approachable.  But our ordinary world has already gotten quite strange if you are, (he were), to believe the physicists!

 

“I make these remarks not to criticize the author's position, but to sketch out the field into which some inroad must be made if the paper is to become publishable, and not read like an introduction to something else.”

 

I have quoted this intelligent and apparently damning critique to present the profound difficulty of the answer.  I think I can plausibly answer each and every point raised however.  That plausibility, moreover, is much compounded by the plausibility of my prior answers to the specific problems of the mind and of the brain.  These are more plausible answers –even from the perspective of Naturalism- , I think, than any previously suggested.

 

-----------------------------------------------END FAQS--------------------------------------------

If you have further questions, please feel free to ask them.  I will respond to any serious question.  Please remember to set a subject line reflecting that you are responding to my web page.

 

Best Regards,

 

Jerry Iglowitz

jiglowitz@rcsis.com

 

 

 

 



     1  ibid

     2  Everywhere, where Cassirer uses "idealism", it must be understood as "critical idealism" in the sense that Kant used it.  This is very different from ordinary idealism, and, as I discussed in Chapter 3, is a real misnomer.  I have suggested "ontic indeterminism" as a more modern alternative, and one I think both Kant and Cassirer would have been happy with.  Also compare the "mere X", (below), with my discussion in Chapter 3.

     3  Cassirer, 1954, p.76

     4  i.e., "science" as opposed to the "cultural forms" -see discussion later.

     5  But even within Cassirer's primary "natural forms" -in physics, for instance, I argue -beyond Cassirer- that the exact parallel obtains.  There are arguably alternative Hertzian formulations of the problem.  Alternative objects and alternative calculi are possible.  Fine suggests that Relativity and Quantum Mechanics may represent such alternatives, and certainly Schroedinger's and Heisenberg's conceptions of quantum theory illustrate the plausibility.

     6  ibid

     1  compare this with the discussion of Chapter 3

     2  (Kantian)

     3  ibid

     4  see Chapter 3

     5  ibid

     1  ibid

     2  ibid