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Bennett and Hacker: Village Idiots or Philosophers?

Lester Zick lesterDELzick at worldnet.att.net
Mon Feb 16 10:47:22 EST 2004

On 15 Feb 2004 12:39:13 -0800, erayo at bilkent.edu.tr (Eray Ozkural
exa) in comp.ai.philosophy wrote:

>"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

Hi Eray - 

I certainly agree with what you note here. The problem with arguments,
rationales, etc. is that they are only about as useful as people's
comprehension of them. I think they are conclusive once understood but
Neil considers them totally or mostly word salad and you seem to be
somewhere in the middle.

But I'll say one thing for the arguments, they're brief. So they admit
of evaluation in pretty straightforward terms. The only complicated
rationale is for S "differences between differences" resolution of
Russell's paradox and I'll be posting more on that in a few days.

The unfortunate thing is they don't have any obvious direct relevance
to immediate issues in ai as the subject stands. The only significance
I can think of at the moment is that these ideas indicate that the
idea of actual sentience in ai is really something more than programs
and whatever one chooses to project as ai in turing terms.

This latter is more on the order of robotics or in cognitive arenas
what I refer to as artificial neural turologies - ants. Which I find
nothing wrong with because it will probably prove more useful than
actual models of general cognition. However as Jim Bromer points out
in his Re: Reasoning and AI yesterday, it has been the case that
designers and programmers have thought they were more or less
discovering and writing equations of cognitive behavior and sentience
with their programs and that has definitely not proven to be the case.
So I consider that it would behoove ai architects to understand why so
they can reconsider whether they are aiming at actual cognition or
just robotics and the difference between the two. 

>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

Regards - Lester

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