Perceptual Structure

Ian Goddard igoddard at
Wed Sep 20 00:29:43 EST 2000

On Tue, 19 Sep 2000 20:32:51 GMT, "Glen M. Sizemore"
<gmsizemore at> wrote:

>IAN: If no data in the brain is perceived,
>then where do you perceive your dreams?
>Glen: I should have added above: "An related
>question is whether or not it makes sense to say that
>activity of the nervous system is 'data.'" It is data if
>you are a neuroscientist measuring aspects of the
>nervous system, but not if you are the person in
>whom the neural activity is occurring. Just like
>copies - it is whole humans that "use data." To talk
>about a part of the brain "doing" what a whole
>person is said to do (like "see" or "use data" or "use
>information") doesn't get us any closer to a solution
>than we were since it is the nature of "seeing" etc.
>after which we inquire. We must answer the
>question "What is seeing?" before it makes sense to
>ask "Where is seeing?" or, indeed, if it makes any
>sense to even ask "Where is seeing?"

  IAN: Part of finding out "what is seeing" 
  is observing where it is. The whole body 
  is involved in seeing in that it acts as 
  a data-acquisition apparatus where acquired 
  data (information) is not perceived until 
  it's been proceeded in the brain. This is 
  empirically-based basic physiology. If it 
  is not accurate, I've not seen that shown. 

  It seems to me that issues that you raise are
  semantical, such as that "data" to a nervous 
  system isn't the same as "data" to a scientist.
  Data is information and everything I see can 
  be said to be data, just like photons can be
  said to carry information about their source, 
  and just like nerve impulses carry data to the 
  brain for perceptual processing. While the 
  mechanics of intra-brain perception are far 
  from fully understood, you appear to advocate 
  a degree of unknowing about perception that 
  exceeds the given state of empirical knowledge.

>IAN: I guess you're saying that during dreaming
>your brain has not modeled a simulated
>world you inhabit in a simulated body.
>Glen: Right. I would say that during dreams one is
>behaving, and that to some extent we observe our
>own behavior. There is a lot more that I could say
>here concerning how it is we come to observe our
>own behavior, and the relation of this to behavioral
>neurobiology, but I will not pursue that at present.

  IAN: You seem to reduce the dream experience
  to "observing our behavior." As you noted, 
  let's think about what the "data" is to the 
  observer. Years ago I practiced mediations 
  designed to induce "astral travel." After 
  much effort I finally managed to preserve 
  consciousness into the dreaming state. Being
  able to preserve concessions into the dreaming
  state is an invaluable opportunity for study 
  of the nature of perception and consciousness.

  I've observe the content of dreams with great
  care, and the basic phenomenological content  
  of dreams can seem exactly as real the content
  of the waking world we inhabit everyday. Once 
  in a dream there was an apparatus composed of
  many reflective-metal tubes with smooth bends 
  in them; it was in a larger room. I was aware 
  that this was a dream and I studied the tubes
  and observed that the contents of the room 
  were accurately reflected on the tubes, and 
  were distorted by tube shapes exactly like 
  in real life. This confirmed to me that the 
  brain is a perfect 3-D modeling machine.
  There are devices you can purchase designed 
  to assist you in achieving lucid dreaming. I 
  don't know how effective those devices are.
  But the point is that dreams are proof that 
  the brain can create a model with and entire 
  external universe with you existing in it as
  a subset of that universe, and yet the whole 
  perceived universe you're in is in your brain.
  There's no reason to believe the same is not 
  true of our waking world, with the difference
  that our waking model is designed according 
  to data streaming in from the external world.

> IAN: It also challenged mine, but because I was not
>able to explain how you can perceive data before
>it enters your brain, I modified my world paradigm.
>The result was a model that explains many
>Glen: As I have pointed out, the problem with
>representationalism is not the locus of what is seen
>but, rather, "What is 'seeing?'" When we talk about
>the brain, or parts of the brain, using the same
>terminology that we use to describe the behavior of
>the whole person, we create a homunculism and an
>infinite regress:
>P1: Seeing requires copies (in the brain or mind).
>P2: We don't see the "real world," we see copies (in
>the brain or mind).
>If seeing requires copies, then we cannot "see" the
>copy, for that (by P1) would require a copy. Seeing
>this copy would, obviously, require another copy.

  IAN: I don't see why seeing the copy requires
  another copy. Physical reality dictates that
  the location in space and time of an external 
  event is not the same as the location in space 
  and time that the perception of that event by  
  an observer occurs. Since the event does not 
  occur in two places, the place of perception 
  must contain a copy of the external event. 
  It's like the "copy" of the external world 
  that exists in a reflection in a glass lens,
  it's not the same as the original external world.

Ian Williams Goddard --> 

"The more restrictions and prohibitions in the world,
  the poorer people get."  Lao Tzu  (Tao Te Ching)


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