First Causes

Alex Green dralexgreen at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Sep 9 11:10:55 EST 2004

"JPL Verhey" <matterDELminds at hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<413f7d4a$0$62371$5fc3050 at dreader2.news.tiscali.nl>...
> "Traveler" <traveler at nospam.com> wrote in message 
> news:d6prj0p7h7qp099mfnm9mvgiodnmcb4c6h at 4ax.com...
> > In article <413dd321$0$62386$5fc3050 at dreader2.news.tiscali.nl>, "JPL
> > Verhey" <matterDELminds at hotmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >>
> >>"Traveler" <traveler at nospam.com> wrote in message ...
> >>
> >>>>Yet this notion is absolutely correct in the sense that any 
> >>>>conscious
> >>>>experience - from thoughts and emotions to objects seen around you 
> >>>>in the
> >>>>world "out there" including stars and galaxies - are all brain 
> >>>>process -
> >>>>out of convenience called mind - and occuring within your own skull.
> >>>
> >>> I thought that your own skull was also "out there." IOW, if nothing
> >>> exists but what's in your mind, does your mind also exist within 
> >>> your
> >>> mind? This is the sort of self-referential problems associated with
> >>> extreme solipsism.
> >>
> >>I look at it a bit differently. When I look at the moon that orbits 
> >>earth,
> >>the moon I *see* is indeed (visual) brainprocess in my skull that is 
> >>an
> >>experiential interface 'superimposing' the image of the moon on the
> >>experience-independent moon out there.
> >
> > Correct. This is the primary reason that the idea (advanced by GOFAI)
> > that the brain creates a representation of the world is pure nonsense.
> > The brain does not see the world. It only sees what is in the brain.
> Indeed it doesn't directly see the world (otherwise we wouldn't need 
> eyes and brains), but what is "seen in the brain" can without a problem 
> be called an internal representation, at least if you assume that it is 
> a pretty correct one. When you see a car coming right at you and it 
> crashes into you.. and you wake up in a hospital later, the internal 
> representation that told you there was a car crashing into you was quite 
> a correct one. (as opposed to for instance dreaming an accident)

Curiously the form of the representation is not like 'reality', it is
a geometric form called a 'view'. This is a bit like what we would
imagine a point eye would see because of the path of light rays into a
point. But, as you point out, the 'view' is brain activity where there
is no point eye and no light rays flowing within it. (The 'point eye'
would not actually apply to the eyes themselves - there are two of
them and they have lenses). So the problem is simple: how could a zone
of brain activity give rise to a phenomenon with the geometry of a
'view'? See:


> >
> >> When I don't look at the moon, that
> >>experience-independent moon is still there - this is the assumption 
> >>science
> >>works with and to which I subscribe as well.

And if you have a good imagination or are adept at lucid dreaming you
can imagine a moon without seeing it. There is a mental space that can
contain either sensations or dreams.

> >
> > I agree wholeheartedly. Although some QM thinkers will insist that
> > reality is not independent of the mind.

Very few, except in the sense of the anthropic principle. The
environment caused decoherence 'out there' and the conscious
observation may cause decoherence in the brain but the environment and
observer will always be in balance, QM fluctuations occurring from the
previous state of the environment.

> > We often hear people seriously
> > promote the nonsensical notion that the mind creates its own reality.

It has its own view of a reality of which it is a part.

> I would think that the brain certainly creates its own reality - an 
> experiential reality which is body-brainprocess.
> >
> >>Similarly, my brain as I can *see* is a mental image 'superimposed' on 
> >>the
> >>brain that is also there independent of anyone, myself or a 
> >>brainsurgeon
> >>looking at it.
> >>
> >>I think this is the most accurate way of understanding "the problem" 
> >>and it
> >>actually resolves solipsism, without denying the obvious truth that 
> >>whatever
> >>you possibly experience "in your mind" are experiential brainprocesses 
> >>or
> >>states (as opposed to un- or preconscious brainprocesses) that occur
> >>entirely in your own skull.
> >>
> >>Science, scientists do not escape the experiential interface, but it 
> >>rightly
> >>works with the assumption that independent of our experiential 
> >>interface
> >>there really is a world out there that can be studied. As you can 
> >>really
> >>move around in the world in a high-tec tank with only cameras and 
> >>computers
> >>screens inside. We are just cybernatic organisms with high-tec 
> >>self-aware
> >>auto-pilot functions, i.e. without needing a pilot/homunculus sitting 
> >>in the
> >>box.
> >
> > Well, I was with you up until the end, although I am not sure we
> > disagree altogether. I, too, dismiss the homunculus concept but the
> > hard logical fact is that nothing can be aware of itself. That would
> > be like saying that opposites are equal. Conscious awareness requires
> > two complementary opposite entities: the knower and the known. One can
> > make three observations about them:
> >
> > 1. Neither can know itself.
> > 2. The knower cannot be known.
> > 3. The known cannot know.
> Maybe without the echo-box of language: "I know that I know what I 
> know.." there would be no self-awareness?

This is basically a statement that only flow can create a phenomenon.
Knowledge may not be constrained to packets of energy flowing from
place to place. One possibility is that time exists as a physical
direction for ordering things. This is the import of relativity theory
but it is still viewed as science fiction by most people. Listen to a
word, at an instant you would hear nothing. Your awareness is
time-extended. In fact the 'specious' or extended present is obvious
in all of us and has been a known mystery for at least a century. This
knowing that you know or observing yourself observing yourself is the
time extension of observation.

> > These things follow by logical definition: knower and known are
> > opposites and nothing can be its own opposite. Does that mean there is
> > a need for homunculus? No. It only means that conscious awareness
> > requires a duality.
> Maybe the I ("self") is the conscious evaluation between the known and 
> the possible, in as far as it serves the organism to function and 
> survive. The duality would be the past-future duality. The unknown is 
> the "now" - it might not even exist!

Or maybe there is no loop, just a time extended observer. See:


Best Wishes

Alex Green

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