Re: The Mind (off topic, but then, is anything off topic on this list?)

From: John M <>
Date: Sat, 28 Dec 2002 11:29:53 -0500


your proposal sounds like: "here I am and here is my mind" .
What gave you the idea that "the two" can be thought of as separate
The fact that we differentiate between a bowel movement and a thinking
process in philosophy and constructed separate noumena for 'mental' and
'bodily' aspects (call it res extensa and res cogitans, soul/body,
mind/flesh or whatever is your actual distaste) does not MAKE them separate
entities. The ONE complexity 'human' (part of the whole, anyway) has aspects
we more, or less observe, and in primitive thinking we personnify them into
'units', called by stupid names. And then write smart - awardwinning? -
books on them.

Happy New Year

John Mikes

----- Original Message -----
From: "Eric Hawthorne" <>
Sent: Saturday, December 28, 2002 2:03 AM

> See response attached as text file:
> Joao Leao wrote:
> >Both seem to me rather vaccuous statements since we don't
> >really yet have a theory, classical or quantum or whathaveyou , of what a
> >mind is or does. I don't mean an emprirical, or verifiable, or decidable
> >or merely speculative theory! I mean ANY theory. Please show me I
> >am wrong if you think otherwise.
> >
> If you don't like my somewhat rambling ideas on the subject, below,
perhaps try
> A book by Steven Pinker called "How the Mind Works". It's supposed to be
> good. I've got it but haven't read it yet.
> Eric
> -----------------------------

> What does a mind do?
> A mind in an intelligent animal, such as ourselves, does the following:
> 1. Interprets sense-data and symbolically represents the objects,
relationships, processes,
> and more generally, situations that occur in its environment.
>       Extra buzzwords: segmentation, individuation,
>                        "cutting the world with a knife into this and
>                        (paraphrased from Zen & The Art of Motorcycle
> 2. Creates both specific models of specific situations and their
> and abstracted, generalized models of important classes of situations and
> constituents, using techniques such as cluster analysis, logical induction
and abduction,
> bayesian inference (or effectively equivalent processes).
>       Extra buzzwords: "structure pump", "concept formation", "episodic
> 3. Recognizes new situations, objects, relationships, processes as being
> of already represented specific or generalized situations, objects,
> processes.
> The details of the recognition processes vary across sensory domains, but
> commonly use things like: matching at multiple levels of abstraction with
> between levels, massively parallel matching processes, abstraction
>     Extra buzzwords: patterns, pattern-matching, neural net algorithms,
>                      constraint-logic-programming, associative recall
> 4. Builds up, through sense-experience, representation, and recognition
> over time, an associatively interrelated "library of
symbolic+probabilistic models or
> micro-theories" about contexts in the environment.
> 5. Holds micro-theories in degrees of belief. That is, in degrees of being
> a good "simple, corresponding, explanatory, successfully predictive" model
of some
> aspect of the environment.
> 6. Adjusts degrees of belief through a continual process of theory
> hypothesis testing against new observations, incremental theory revision,
assessment of
> competing extended theories etc. In short, performs a mini, personalized
> of "the history of science forming the evolving set of well-accepted
> theories".
> Degree of belief in each micro-theory is influenced by factors such as:
> a. Repeated success of theory at prediction under trial against new observ
> b. Internal logical consistency of theory.
> c. Lack of inconsistency with new observations and with other
micro-theories of possibly
> identical or constituent-sharing contexts.
> d. Generation of large numbers of general and specific propositions which
> deductively derived from the assumptions of the theory, and which are
> verified as being "corresponding" to observations.
> e. Depth and longevity of embedding of the theory in the knowledge base.
> the extent to which repeated successful reasoning from the theory has
resulted in the
> theory becoming a "basis theory" or "theory justifying other extended or
> theories" in the knowledge base.
> 7. Creates alternative possible world models (counterfactuals or
> by combining abstracted models with episodic models but with variations
> through the use of substitution of altered or alternative constituent
> sequences of events, etc.
>          Extra buzzwords: Counterfactuals, possible worlds, modal logic,
> 8. Generates, and ranks for likelihood, extensions of episodic models into
the future,
> using stereotyped abstract situation models with associated probabilities
to predict
> the next likely sequences of events, given the part of the situation that
> been observed to unfold so far.
> 9. Uses the extended and altered models, (hypotheticals, counterfactuals),
as a context
> in which to create and pre-evaluate through simulation the likely
effectiveness of
> plans of action designed to alter the course of future events to the
> advantage of the animal.
> 10. Chooses a plan. Acts on the world according to the plan, either
> through communication with other motivated intelligent agents, or directly
> controlling its own body and using tools.
> 10a. Communicates with other motivated intelligent agents to assist it in
> out plans to affect the environment:
> Aspects of the communication process:
> - Model (represent and simulate) the knowledge, motivations and reasoning
processes of
> the other agents,
> - Communicate to the other agents, using conventional symbols.
>   Subjects of communication:
>      -specific and general knowledge about the environment and its
relevant non-optimalities,
>      -suggested specific courses of action to remedy non-optimality,
>       with logical justifications, and motivational explanations of likely
mutual benefits.
>     (Evolutionary side effect of need to model the cognition and action
planning process of
>      assistant agents: The development of ability to reflect on one's own
>      thinking process. i.e. some of what consciousness is)
> 11. Assesses the effects of planned actions, corrects, reassesses,
> plans again, acts again.
> 12. Prioritizes cognition to meet real-time understanding and planning
> via techniques such as:
> a. Parallel exploration and testing of alternative hypotheses,
> b. Parallel associative recall processes
> c. Periodic assessment of relative promise of the parallel alternative
lines of
>    reasoning and different directions of associative recall exploration of
>    and pruning of less promising directions to allow redirection of the
>    resourced search processes to deeper exploration of more promising
> d. Emotion-tagging of episodic memories of "survival-important" aspects of
>    and carry-over of the emotion-tags to abstracted general rules. These
>    tags serve as a prioritization on all-directions associative recall and
>    all-directions inference during exploration of recalled theories and
>    and current situation. i.e.
>    - If it could kill you now, recall it fast and don't think about
anything else.
>    - Similarly if it could get you an opportunity to pass on your genes.
>    - If it could kill you slowly (hunger, lack of shelter), or make your
world safer
>    and more comfortable (food, shelter, friends and helpers, money),
>    think about it with relatively high priority, and probably quite often.
>    - If it is new and unknown, it could kill you now, so think a lot about
it now until
>    you can learn enough to assure yourself that that is not the case.
>    - If it is same old same old, and not one of the above categories, muse
on it
>    if you have the time. You might learn something new of benefit by
mixing it with
>    some old thought to generate an important realization.
> ---------
> What is a mind?
> Something that does all of the above, and undoubtedly more.
> How does it work? F****ed if I know.
Received on Sat Dec 28 2002 - 11:34:14 PST

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