Friday, December 7, 2012

Structurally coding the Gap and Hard Problem - Teed Rockwell

Pawing through Wikipedia entries on the Explanatory Gap, the Hard Problem of Consciousness, etc., I happened on to a rich, multi-faceted jewel: "The Hard Problem is Dead" written by  Teed Rockwell -- problem.html

In it, the author introduces some of Sellars' views (which, of course, are all news to me) and makes the case that besides Chalmers' assumed given of an explanandum there is also some other philosophical widget termed explanans.  And, so, the upshot of the distinction (and his/Sellar's perspectives)is that Chalmers' articulation of the Hard Problem of Consciousness is  a bit naive or overly paradigm-bound and dependent on an unfounded assumption. [This is my slanted paraphrase; please read it yourself to get your own take on it.]

That is,  "Sellarsians do not deny that it seems to us that our mental life is central and manifest, and the fundamental explanandum in the science of mind. But they account for this appearance by saying that our theories trickle down into our experience in such a way as to make the distinction between explanandum and explanans untenable."

Later in the article, the author writes:

"What I am suggesting is that consciousness may be an emergent property of two distinct but closely related subsystems, each of which is responsible for a different kind of awareness. One sort of awareness enables us to occupy what Sellars (1963) calls the Space of Reasons: the linguistic realm of logical explanations and communication. The other enables us to perform the kind of discriminative signal processing manifested by Rats and Amoebas. The first kind makes possible the sort of awareness which is a linguistic affair, the second kind makes possible what Dewey calls experience and Sellars calls sensations."

Building on Sellers' well-known quote: "All a linguistic affair", the author goes on to illustrate  distinctions between feeling or sensing  and knowing, and points out that we don't make inferences from what we sense/feel, but only related to our descriptions of what we sense/feel.  In the process, he then distinguishes  linguistic and non-linguistic processing. [My/an example(s) of the latter might be like "pheromone processing", or the processing involved with, say, sustaining a low self-image, co-dependence, shame-based relating, or alternative insecurity-based habits.)

There is a lot of very wonderful material in this author's piece. In considering linguistic and non-linguistic, or cognitive and nn-cognitive processing and categories, or accounts of neural networking connectionist vs. language of thought models, and persistent distinctions between sensing and thinking, from my perspective, the underlying common denominator, missing from the author's vocabulary, still is an appreciation for the fact that reality is nested structured~duality and implemented in the structural coding  not only in the neural connectist level, but also in the structural coding at the respiration reaction/ ordered water and  various other levels of organization.

That leads us to "All  a structural coding affair", which gets us down  to a sufficiently unified, useful and functional initial approximation.

Best regards,
Ralph Frost

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

Enjoy!  Renew your mind!

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