Saturday, November 15, 2014

Adding NS/R -- level? WAS: Indeed, what is it like to be a ...?


When I observe you present the organizational levels of your trial theory:

Applied theory

I notice that the D-level is also always present embedded within  the GS-levels and the GS-level is also always present  within the MT-levels, and so on.  Is there a reason why you choose to ignore or not be  explicit about the inherent and ever-present nested structure/recursion level of organization (fifth, NS/R - organizational level)?

By way of analogy, by 3rd grade in elementary school students are taught: 


and that paragraphs are collections of sentences formed of words in some specific orders which are formed of the (in the present case, ~26) letters in various specific orders.    Similarly, ducks differ from hens by variations in orderings of the four base components of their DNA.

Clearly, the nested structuring of levels within levels is fundamental and implicit, and also central to the development of coherent understanding, aka, to an effective theory of consciousness. 

Yet, I'm not getting any clear sense from what you write or how you present things that seem to be important to you that you acknowledge or are aware of this fundamental level of organization within the organizational system that you present in your trial theory of consciousness.  

I do get the impression that you attempt to address or work around this --what I'm calling  a-- short-coming of the current version of your trial theory by offering accounts of wholes-parts, and with the AS, DIS, DEC and combinations expressions or operators that you use to point toward  bonded/separated artifacts and sets.    Yet,  it appears to me that ~you just jump over to referencing wholes-parts without accounting at all for the important level of organizational structure: that of nested structure within an enfolding structure  -- which is ubiquitous.   

Stated otherwise, we typically know this relation as "wholes are made up of parts", and when we go further to consider "the whole is MORE than the sum of its parts", we get further pointers to the importance of  the implicit nested structure. What we actually have is parts within parts within parts, forming what we often label as different "wholes":  mitochondria within cells, or planets within solar systems, depending upon how we adjust the focus of our micro/tele-scope. 

The givens, though, are all nested structures.

It is easy to demonstrate in the analog math that nesting one artifact within an enfolding structure is what ADDS extra increments to the system. 

The simple demonstration of this fact is to begin with the five ways to align four rod magnets along radii of tetrahedron -- getting five items  -- according to the N+1 rule. Then add an enfolding level of structure, as in placing magnetic tetrahedron inside a cube or  within an enfolding field.    Nesting structure , in this particular case adds (at least) eleven ~secondary isomers and therein changes the five items into  sixteen distinct items (five primary items + eleven ~secondary). 

The "more than the sum of the parts" arises simply from adding the enfolding structure. 

What do you think about this feedback and suggestion, Serge?

I guess I can sort of see that there are pluses and minuses.  To acknowledge and "move" nested structure from the ~blurred condition you have it back as an fundamental level of organization in your trial theory, then, in some quite clear sense the implicit nested structure would conflict with or would reduce:

     energy, material, information, entropy aspects

into something like

     energy in nested structure.

This collapse would occur since material, information and even entropy aspects are each basically energy nested within ~some structures.   In that sense, acknowledging the nesting as fundamental could seem like or be a necessarily disruptive innovation.  

The question is whether nested structure is fundamental or not?

The fact  and answer is, yes, it is. That the electron-volt  can serve as a common unit for various energy, material and entropic and informational artifacts (for instance, proportionally or as inverses, as for units of length and time) is one proof of that fundamental fact.

On the plus side,  oscillating between the trial theories that you and others advocate and the trial theory that I am advocating also reveals the implicit nesting and nested structured~dualities as well and, for a variety of reasons,  I think, has significant value.  

The whole is more than the sum of the parts.

Best regards,
Ralph Frost
Paradigm Transition  Support
[fSci] --  Frost Scientific

With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation. Isaiah 12:3

---In, wrote :
First, a few theoretical generalities. If we have some knowledge we may organize it somehow. Having our cognitive activity on the level of description (the D-level) we may talk about "phenomenological observation" as of the first form of organization of knowledge we receive. On the level of generalization and systematization (the GS-level) we may talk about "data array" as of the second form of knowledge organization. On the level of applied theory (the AT-level) we may talk about "information system" as of the third form of knowledge organization. The listed above forms of knowledge organization differ as in the amount of data as in the ways by which that data is obtained.
Now then, the physicalistic approach states that we can have full knowledge about the mechanisms of consciousness if we have full knowledge about the physical/chemical neuronal processes in the brain. But, the problem is that, in practice, the full knowledge about the neuronal processes in the brain cannot be achieved because of the extreme complexity of this task.
Therefore, I decided not to wait until the full knowledge about the neuronal processes is some day achieved, and made the following step: I postulated the existence of such an information system which ALREADY includes all knowledge about the object of study. I called that information system the "integrated information system" (or IIS for short), and refer to it as a fourth form of knowledge organization. This form of knowledge organization corresponds to the meta-theoretical level of our cognitive activity (or MT-level).
In the simplest terms, the IIS is a limit to which our knowledge about the object of study tends. But, in which does the IIS differ from the (ordinary) information system? The main differences are as follows:
1) the IIS cannot be considered as a collection of discrete data;
2) the IIS describes by three systemic characteristics (informational, material, and energetic), and the characteristic of its overall entropic state;
3) the IIS possesses some specific properties universal for any such information system, and
4) the IIS obeys the Law that governs the development of any such information system.
From the postulate can be inferred that the IIS is not a collection of its parts, or, better say, it is something more than just a collection of parts. If we formalize the alive organism as the IIS{organism} (in such a way we apply a method of IIS), this information system includes all possible knowledge that can ever be gained by studying the object named "alive organism". So, the method of IIS makes it possible for us to cope with all that extreme informational complexity we face when studying consciousness-possessing complex systems.
Now, let us address Tomas Nagel's arguments. He argues (in my own interpretation) that when constructing an explanatory framework for consciousness we must take into account something that makes the given organism to consider itself as being a consciousness-possessing entity. In other words, the given organism must consider itself as being a particular "Self": either a self-bat, a self-cat, a self-human, etc., and this fact is not being taken into consideration by materialistic accounts for consciousness.
I fully agree with Nagel's anti-reductionist approach, if only because of the fact that my IIS is more than a collection of discrete data (moreover, it cannot be considered as a collection of data at all, it has no parts at all). Also, I have many times mentioned on this forum that a complex system possesses consciousness (or mental states) if and only if it itself decides it possesses consciousness (see, for example, my post ). However, I argue that in sense of the mechanisms of consciousness there is nothing special to concrete alive organism (like a bat). I mean that the mechanisms of consciousness are the same for every alive organism, and they do not depend on the specificity of the concrete organism's sense organs.
Tomas Nagel talks about "something that it is like to be that organism". For me, the only thing that can be meant by Nagel's "something" must be what we call "Self". So, I would like to generalize the issue and address the task of explaining where any "Self" comes from without linking it to a concrete organism. Let me start from my definition of consciousness. I define it as a natural ability of a complex system to keep its entropy on a sufficiently low level through
(1) performing the acts of
a) processing the physical (sensory) signals, and/or the already available elements of knowledge, and
b) conceptualization of the processed physical sensory signals (and/or the already available elements of knowledge) by transforming them into the new elements of knowledge; and
(2) presenting the elements of knowledge as intellectual products of all possible levels, forms and types.
(Note that I consider such terms as the "element of knowledge", the "element of subjective experience", the "increment of information" as synonyms.) So, the mechanisms of consciousness, as I see them, presume formation of loops consisting of the acts of processing (P) and conceptualization ( C ): -P-C-P-C-...
If we have, at least, two consecutive loops, then a helix (made of these loops) appears. While a loop is a (quasi) 2D object, the helix is already a 3D object: it has its top and bottom. If the helix is enough high, the difference between the entropic states of its top and its bottom becomes substantial. For example, a person who has arrived at some (good) idea has lower entropy than that same person who has not arrived at that idea yet. It is presumed that, to arrive at any idea, a very big number of P-C loops has to be performed. (For loops, helix, and IIS-modelling of the Self see Figures 3 and 4).
So, a split (or entropy drop) appears between the bottom act of processing and the top act of conceptualization. Now, let us apply the system of AS-DIS-DEC models and the method of IIS to formalize that case. We will call "self-subject" the top act of conceptualization. We will call "self-object" the bottom act of processing. Then we consider the DIS-model that has two elements: the IIS{self-subject}, and the IIS{self-object} (see ibid., Figure 4). According to the Law of IIS development (mentioned above), there can be no two IISs of the same DIS-model that would have the same value of their entropic characteristics. So, the value of entropic characteristic of the IIS{self-subject} is lower than that of the IIS{self-object}. Let us now see where the Self is in here?
When I say that some Whole dissociates into other wholes, I mean that we formalize that Whole as an element of AS-model and then perform the AS-DIS transition. The reverse one will be the DIS-AS transition. This transition is not prohibited because when the initial Whole dissociates, it does not disappear. In contradistinction to that, the DEC-AS transition is prohibited. For example, when we decompose an apple into parts, then, by putting these parts together, we will never receive the apple as it was before decomposition.
So, for the self-subject, the idea of "Self" appears when the self-subject (formalized as the IIS{self-subject} -- the element of DIS-model) performs DIS-AS transition. In result, we receive the IIS{Self} as the element of AS-model.
For this idea to become clearer, let us consider the following example. Let us take three elements of the same DIS-model: the IIS{husband}, the IIS{wife}, and the IIS{child}. At one moment, a husband realizes that there is something that can be called "family" (I mean the phenomenon of we-feeling or belongingness). So, after performing the DIS-AS transition, the IIS{family} appears as an element of AS-model. Then we can say that the IIS{family}, as something Whole -- the element of AS-model, dissociates into other wholes -- the IIS{husband}, the IIS{wife}, and the IIS{child} -- the elements of the same DIS-model.
Similarly, the IIS{Self} (as an element of AS-model) dissociates into other wholes -- the IIS{self-subject} and the IIS{self-object} -- the elements of the same DIS-model.
To the point, there is a cause-effect relation between the elements of DEC-model. But, when we consider the elements of the same DIS-model, there is, what I call, the inverse relation between them. The inverse relation means that it is not possible to say what element depends on what, and which element is more important, and which one is less important.
For example, the hen-egg paradox appears when we try to formalize a hen and an egg as the elements of DEC-model and to consider the cause-effect relation between them (it is not possible to answer a question which element appeared first). The paradox eliminates if we formalize both a hen and an egg as the IIS{hen} and the IIS{egg} correspondingly, and consider them as the elements of the same DIS-model. In such a case, no paradox appears because there is an inverse relation between these two elements.
So, I call "self-reference" the inverse relation between self-subject and self-object, formalized as the IIS{self-subject} and the IIS{self-object} and considered as the elements of the same DIS-model. Why we should talk about inverse relation here? It is because, while performing self-referencing, the "I (or me)" as a self-subject is as important as the "I (or me)" as a self-object. We can also say that my consciousness as an instrument of studying is as important as my consciousness which steps out simultaneously as an object of studying.
Since the mechanisms of appearance of self-reference are universal, therefore every alive organism produces self-reference in exactly the same way -- through formation of a helix assembled of the P-C loops. It means that for a bat to realize that it has its Self is the same as for a human to realize that it has its Self. To be a bat, or for a bat to realize it possesses mental states and is able to perform the process of cognizing, is the same as to be a human, or for a human to realize he/she possesses mental states and is able to perform the process of cognizing. In so doing, the possession of unlikely functioning sense organs does not make a bat and a human to be different in sense of the mechanisms of consciousness.
And, the final important remark. The theory of consciousness is possible only when we apply a method that is able to deal with wholes, and can cope with extreme informational complexity of the object of study. Such is the method of IIS. The method(s) of neurophysiology is good for gaining data, but it is useless when trying to generalize and systematize that data, saying not of the need to construct an applied theory being based on that data.
Serge Patlavskiy
PS. Those readers, for whom my explanations look like babble, may just skip my posts. But, please, stop complaining that we still do not have a theory of consciousness.

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