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

From: John M <>
Date: Sun, 29 Dec 2002 12:18:13 -0500

> John M wrote:
> >Eric,
> >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
> >entities?
> >The fact that we differentiate between a bowel movement and a thinking
> >process in philosophy ... does not MAKE them separate entities.
> >
> Eric's first law of abstraction: (known variously as the trivially
> profound law or the profoundly trivial law:)
>-- "Every two things are both the same and different."--
> Bowel movements and mental processes. They are both physical processes
> in the body, it's true.
> The difference is that a mental process is in its essence a process of
>representation ("re presentation") of reality and similarly
> structured potential realities. That is, it is a process of using some
> aspect in the brain as a stand-in for some aspect of the external world.
>And it is a process of doing so in a way that is flexible and
> general enough to allow the generation of representations (mental
> stand-ins) of new hypothetical or counterfactual states of the external
>reality, as well as of actual states. Thus we can think of how
> things we have not directly apprehended might be, and how things that
> haven't yet taken place could be, if only this would happen, or, sadly but
>instructively, of how things might have been.

++++Eric, it is an old rule in arguing to use lohg foggy sentences with
foggy expressions so the opponent does not know what to attack. Do you wish
a similarly worded translation of your "mental narrative" to the "bowel
movement" I mentioned as a punch line? Mutatis mutandis the same phrases
can be formulated for the latter. (I save it from the list).
Please forgive me not to re-quote all of your post.
> Models of the mind:
> --------------------
++++I skip the interesting historical survey.
> And today, we believe that the brain is a computer and the mind is
> software.
++++No, we don't.++++
In your argument *against* the statement (thank you) you use obsolete
visions stemming from conventional analyses of the image (you argue
Also you plunge into the 'computer' idea, a machine that "thinks" using
Again, in classical reductionism, as a "Ding an Sich" a white elephant on
its own. A 'computer' hardware is an expensive paperweight, a software some
dirt on a paper - or configurational patterns in a semiconductor-maze. None
does anything. It becomes a comnputer, when the complexity functions of the
total, just as a brain does not think and a skin does not feel, without the
complexity of the living composition total (so abruptly stopped at death).
The difference is not so profound as I thought earlier: machines are
products of complexity beyond the machine-aspect, human complexities
(ingenuity?) and social possibilities were functioning together in the
'evolvement' of a (cute) machine that thinks.
What we observe, is a piece of industrial product, what wwe don't is the
extended network and (their combined) influence to generate that piece of
What I am referring to is your statement about the computer 'memory' :
>...? It's not really part of the computer at all. It is the software.<
> The historical thinker who came closest to understanding the nature of
> the mind was undoubtedly Plato,....
++++Sorry, he and his contemporaries (up to this time<G>) are obsolete in a
sense that they used for their (surely ingenius) thinking an epistemic
cognitive inventory way less complete than developed since their death or
sources. I risk the statement, that our (scientific etc.) cognitive
inventory is not complete even today!!!! There are 'hidden variables' in
Bohm's 'implicate' and unknown connections in the so far undiscovered
networks of complexities, what we may call 'impredicative' --- all important
to understand what we THINK we understand, even formalize in the (=) signs
fixed quantized formalisms.
So I don't rely on the relics. I rather confess to my scientific agnosticism
(nothing to do with the religious one). Give me 300 years, we will know

I wanted to skip your concluding par. about computer-examples for an
impredicative complexity looked at by different aspects of select functions
in reductionistic science as chapters of separate units (ie. the mental
aspect of the complexity-human) but I find it necessary to show how we can
confuse a model with the 'total' we formulated in the representation of an
aspect within.
A computer 'models' nicely the "model"-functions of human thinking *as cut*
in certain scientific considerations for detailed study. If somebody does
not look beyond the (artificially set) boundaries of this model, then the
computer-example looks like "brain", (with software: mind). It is the recent
version of the historical images you mentioned (and I skipped): telephone
switchboard, steam engine, clockwork, soul-spirit of religion and caveman,
I dare state that I do not know details, but I know: it is more involved,
interlaced endogenously in the unlimited impredicative complexity of the
existence and hopefully we do get closer to learning it. So to your final
line of questioning I answer:
"I believe I do think deeper about these things than you suggest (and do)."
> The brain-mind duality is solved (and now officially boring). If you can
> say that you truly understand:
> 1) the distinction between computing software and computing hardware,
> 2) issues such as what makes one piece of software different from or
> the same as another
> versus what makes one piece of hardware different from versus the
> same as another,
> 3) What the relationship of computing software to computing hardware
> 4) How the essential particulars of high-level software gain
> independence from particulars of computing hardware through
> the construction of hierarchies of levels or layers of software process
> with emergent behaviours at each level,
> and yet you claim not to know what a mind is with respect to a brain,
> then I would say you're just not thinking
> hard enough about the issue.

++++++Sorry for the length++++++++
John M
Received on Sun Dec 29 2002 - 12:24:04 PST

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