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Bennett and Hacker: Village Idiots or Philosophers?

Eray Ozkural exa erayo at bilkent.edu.tr
Sun Feb 15 15:39:13 EST 2004

"AlphaOmega2004" <OmegaZero2003 at yahoo.com> wrote in message news:<59dd837546b2b1f4ee6231123f513845 at news.teranews.com>...
> "Eray Ozkural exa" <erayo at bilkent.edu.tr> wrote in message
> news:fa69ae35.0402121807.4090deb8 at posting.google.com...
> > I don't support that position, either. One does not need to be
> > "eliminative" to be  materialist.
> It does help when you have to have a bowel movement though.
> ;^))
> Seriously, there are conceptions of mind/brain_processes that rely totally
> on time_as_primary; synchronization theories etc. The notion that brain
> experiences all environmental events in their past, the synchrony  (or lack
> thereof) of neuronal group firings *as* representational vehicles. Etc. etc.

Empirical data seems to suggest that "timing" is all there is to
information in the neural code, see the Flynculus threads!

> >
> > Omega might have something to say on Churchland, I'm curious of what
> > he thinks.
> I have always liked Pat's take on several issues. Her Computational Brain
> (with Terry Sejnowski - one person in the field who deserves every
> accolade...)  IMHO, set a standard for turning philosophical meanderings
> into empirically-verifiable hypotheses and hard data (based on ANN
> observations). Modelling neurobiological structures with computational
> structures has provided a great deal of insight into how brain categorizes
> and communicates between NGs - two essential characteristics of what it
> means to be a mind - or cognizing entity. Cognition of difference ( the
> function that co-operates with or operates just before actual
> categorization) is of material primacy to consciousness; separating self
> from non-self as the second-most (and secondly-adopted) function of brain.
> E.g., infants prior to a few months develop the ability to cognize
> difference in the environment; thence they develop the cognition of
> self-other differences as part of the development of their selves - their
> self-consciousness follows.

Do you observe how that elates "difference" as a first class abstract
concept, not unlike what Lester suggests? (This is not to say I agree
with his arguments, only that difference could be treated more

Minsky also argues that much of subjective experience is a direct
consequence of analysis of differences, i.e. if the input is static
subjective experience dissolves, both in reactive and reflective
states. There may be a subtle issue of knowledge and experience here,
but I cannot quite pin it down.

> But back to Churchland: her stand on materialsm (based on the reduction of
> phsychological facets of mind/brain to physiological/computational
> mechanisms) is well-taken as far as it goes in "eliminating" the "spooky
> stuff" like souls and spirits (and with them - the elimination of the
> Cartesian/dualist conundrums).  Note that she admits that this is an
> hypothesis (in good standing - one which I agree with - as I have not seen
> any disembodied minds yet), but strong enough to proceed as though it were a
> fact of nature - a particularly strong position philosophically.

That is well taken, indeed.

> In reading some of her other position papers, I understand that her top-down
> reductionist approach does *not* mean that bottom-up appraches are not
> important.  She has an engineering/reverse-engineering bent - so it is
> natural for her to assume the reductionist approach - take it apart and see
> how the components work and constitute the whole (with more emphasis on the
> former than the latter - which IMO has some problems - one of which is that
> the notion of emergence is relegated to the back burner, whereas I think it
> should be front and center, as reductionism tends to eliminate *information*
> and is a lossy process (as I have discussed before.)

I have a problem with such theories when they don't lead to a
mathematical insight. I try to back up my arguments with some small
complexity "fact" / "hypothesis", if you recall how I presented a
mathematical interpretation of the irreducibility of mental processes.


Eray Ozkural

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