philosophy of mind

Mathew Guilfoyle GuilfoyleMR at cardiff.ac.uk
Wed Jan 9 14:26:45 EST 2002

> I disagree here because I think you gloss over a step in your
> argument: the link between information and knowledge. Your visual
> system may relay and represent the information but how the brain
> transforms the representation into knowledge of the visual world (ie.
> qualia or the feeling of what happens) is not easily answered, and is
> in fact the central philosophical issue of qualia. While I believe
> that it is not an insurmountable obstacle, it remains a valid
> criticism of existing neuroscience.
> I don't think the mystical soul is implicit in word, qualia.

This is the whole crux of my argument.  In your theory to what or whom
does the brain represent this knowledge?  There are three
possibilities - representation to a finite succession of brain
regions, in which case my essential argument is unchanged, just the
details.  Second, you can have an infinite regress of representation,
which you either gets you nowhere or is the same as my argument
depending on which way you look at it.  Lastly you can posit a
non-physical homunculus or soul who can 'view' the goings-on in the
visual cortex and infer knowledge.  Your argument falls in to the
'Cartesian theatre' trap and even if you don't realise, is a form of

What I am trying to say is that it is not necessary to have this
representation step if you consider yourself (i.e. you in the
strongest sense) to be nothing but the dynamics of your brain.  If
'you' are coded in there, then the infromation the visual cortex can
discern will influence you via appropriately evolved mechanisms.  That
is, the visual information will influence decisions about actions in
the world and further, more complex, activities.  It never needs to be
represented because there is nothing to represent to, because 'you'
and 'I' are nothing but the intricate machinings of our respective

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