First Causes

JPL Verhey matterDELminds at hotmail.com
Fri Sep 10 05:17:32 EST 2004

"Alex Green" <dralexgreen at yahoo.co.uk> wrote in message 
news:42c8441.0409090810.15ac97f7 at posting.google.com...
> "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
>> > 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:
> http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~lka/conz.htm

Interesting stuff. As I understand it you conclude that the 'view' is a 
distribution of vectors directly resulting from the geometry of the 
brain, that point in the same direction. You also mention that 
electro-chemical pathways themselves can be twisted around without 
distoring the experience as long as the geometry of the neuro-chemical 
transition points (synapses/clefts?) remains fixed.

Maybe I missed some of your points, but the image I have of the brain is 
that those neuro-chemical transition points are spatially distributed, 
but not "aimed" at anything, at least spatially. They are not like radio 
telescopes focussing on the same point in space. What would remain, I'd 
think, is that they all "point" in time to 'the next moment'. But time 
only exists in terms of geometrical change. So, indeed, you come to 
mention special relativity. My question then is how your 'vectors' 
should be understood in terms of special-relativity in the context of 
activities occuring at those geometrically fixed neuro-chemical 
transition points. Maybe you can clarify.

You also mention epiphenomalism and Libet. I don't have enough knowledge 
of those experiments that you say make a strong case in favor of 
epiphenomalism. But I'm suspicious here. I understand and subscribe to 
the fact that conscious experience is not needed in many if not most of 
the central nervous system's activities and body functions..included 
many of the behaviors both physically and mentally of which we are only 
aware 'after the fact', but this a IMO different from the claim that 
mental and conscious processes can NEVER be part of any causal chain 
that preceedes behavior, either physically (raising your arm) or 
mentally (thinking). I would call this "radical epiphenomalism", as 
opposed to the IMO more sensible notion that there are a number of 
mental intentional behaviors without which certain behaviors simply can 
never occur.

"Free will" and conscious intentionality of course don't float in some 
virtual reality and remotely-magically execute certain behaviors like a 
devine control freak, like "a ghost operating its machine". You rightly 
mention the interdependance of many conscious and unconscious processes. 
But I just don't see the logic of attributing epiphenomality (if that's 
proper english, and understood as "having no causal efficacy on any 
behavior") only to conscious brain process and not to unconscious brain 
process. Why wouldn't certain unconscious processes have epiphenomal 
properties as well? After all, it is possible to think of the properties 
of any physical event in brains, rocks etc.. as "epiphenomal". Every 
event can be seen as the outcome of other causes.. The moment an event 
is 'born' it explodes back into nothingness. Hence I would would say 
that everything is an epiphenomen or nothing is.

The compromise could be to say that all events are the 
"epiphenomenal-creation" of other events, but always and "in their 
moment of instant death" DO have a causal effect leading unavoidably to 
the creation of new events. Now the conscious, intentional decision to 
raise my arm, or go to the shop, is clearly able to (co-)create events 
that DO lead up to the actual raising of my arm or going to the shop.

In other words: many events participate in conscious and unconscious 
(without clear-cut borders) brainprocess. They all branch out in 
different causal chains (as observed in classical physics), and one of 
those branches manifests conscious and intentional "free will" that can 
make your arm move etc. That an intentional conscious act can have only 
little to no impact on many other events - conscious and unconscious - 
is no less surprising than that scratching my ass won't cause my house 
tumbling down. :-)

Further on you mention the concept of experiencing many things at the 
same time and how that is possible - the 'binding problem'.  I have some 
idea that is maybe too simple to be true: 

>> >
>> >> 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'll read some more of your site and perhaps comment more later.

Cheers, JPL

On consciousness: experiential bubbles,
solipsism, mind-brain duality, the binding problem,
the hard problem and artificial consciousness.

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