Re: 2C Mary - How minds perceive things and "not things"

From: Eric Hawthorne <>
Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2003 22:17:09 -0700

Colin Hales wrote:

>The real question is the ontological status of the 'nothing' in that
>last sentence. I am starting to believe that the true nature of the
>'fundamental' beneath qualia is not only about the 'stuff', but is
>actually about all of it. That is, the 'stuff' and the 'not stuff'.
>So. Anyone care to comment on the ontological status of 'not thing'?
I believe our brains and minds are "difference engines".
What they do is respond in a feedback loop with perceptual signals in
such a way as to
continually sort things, by the single rule of "this is more different
from that than it is from that",
so I'll represent that comparative level of difference (in a compact way
that can be stored and retrieved
In other words, it organizes its internal representation of "what's out
there" so
that the "more different, less different" relations between
representational symbols in the brain
are as close as possible to mirroring the "more different, less
different" relations among chunks
of "reality". Objects in the world, for example, are individuated (their
boundaries from other objects
determined, and thus the extent that their identity applies to) on the
basis of a rigorously
mathematical, and simple, algorithm of "these are the best clusters of
all kinds of similarities"
and their boundaries are where the most differences (of many kinds) occur.
This individuation by difference-measurement applies equally well when
turned inward on itself
to create abstract theories of abstract domains (e.g. higher math and
logic, language about thoughts).
I would contend that notions like abstraction into
generalization-specialization hierarchies of
"noun" and "verb" ("thing" and "relationship") concepts emerge
spontaneously if you simply
mix a "represent the differences" principle with an "achieve most
compact representation" principle.
So what does all this musing about conceptualization of the world have
to do with the world
(universe) itself, or what that universe really "is" ? That's a hard one.
The best I could come up with is that the "multiverse" or "plenitude" is
"the capacity for
all differences and configurations of differences to manifest
themselves." Most parts of that
will be "ungrokable" by brains like ours because only those parts which
have organized
configurations of differences exhibiting space-time-like locality,
energy, matter etc which
behave within limits that allow formation of emergent systems of
"bigger", observable,
simple configurations of differences will be observable universes (to
difference-engine brains
like ours that were lucky enough to emerge as one of those emergent
systems in a
hospitable energy regime.
Or Whatever.

    "We are all in the gutter,
     but some of us are looking at the stars."
          - Oscar Wilde
Received on Wed Jun 04 2003 - 01:16:36 PDT

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