Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

> My brain must
> at some subconscious level have the structure of the whole sentence spanning 
> a 2 second interval
> t1-t2 or else the sentence could not be generated.

It's still unclear to me from the above whether we're in agreement or
not. I'm concerned that you may be assuming what is to be explained,
owing to an illegitimate sleight of intuition. That is, it's so normal
for us to think in terms of the overall 'sequence of moments' that it's
easy to forget that the posit for OMs is that they are *informationally
closed* with respect to other OMs (this is the point I've been debating
with Peter, with which I thought you agreed). If OMs are thus closed,
then it must follow that whatever information is required to generate
the experience of 'a given moment' (under-defined, but see below)
*must* be contained in its entirety within *some* (but of course not
every) OM.

Were that not the case, *no* individual OM would contain all the
elements of a coherent conscious experience, and by the same token
*any* coherent conscious experience would necessarily have to span
*multiple* OMs. But any such assumption - i.e. meta-assembly of data
over multiple OMs - is precisely what we wish to rule out of our
account. A 'successor' OM - and any conscious state dependent on it -
must simply 'forget' anything about 'prior' OMs that is not re-encoded
within it - beyond such encoding, everything else is simply radically
absent. A metaphor here might be a cine-film. An OM is then a frame. If
all you have is a single frame, then your 'experience' must be strictly
limited to whatever is contained in that frame, unless you can somehow
surreptitiously sneak a glance at - or recall at will - other frames.

> we rely on the machinery of the brain keeping track of everything to generate 
> successive
> moments of consciousness which pull everything back into coherence.

Is what you say above consistent with the constraints on OMs in my
account? I think perhaps we may intend the same thing here.

This consideration, at least, strongly suggests (IMO entails) something
entirely non-trivial about what the brain is actually doing (your
'engineering problem'), beyond representing simple 'snapshots' from
external input. To overcome the 'OM constraint', it needs to assemble,
from these 'instants', 'rolling constructs', each of which encodes an
updated version of the 'specious present', *simultaneously*
representing multiple snapshots and their relations. It may be entirely
owing to such 'time capsules' (as Barbour, taking this issue seriously,
implies) that we are able to assemble and implement a dynamic
experience of 'time'. In fact, we can be pretty sure that there is a
brain mechanism doing something like this, because as Colin recently
reminded us, there are syndromes that interfere with it, changing the
'dynamic granularity' (refresh rate). So our dynamic experience - the
'A-series' - may depend critically on such 'time-synthesising'
mechanisms within brain structure and function, rather than mapping in
a simple sequential way to external 'B-series' events. And this of
course would then make sense of why such biological time-mechanisms
would have evolved. That is, because successive improvement in the
ability to represent, and consequently discriminate and respond to, an
environment perceived as dynamic events and processes at variable
levels of granularity, confers obvious survival advantage.


> David Nyman writes:
> > > As for memory being encoded in or accessible to an OM, that is an 
> > > unnecessary complication.
> > > As you said previously, the OM's are related solely by their information 
> > > content. If the seconds
> > > of your life were sliced up, shuffled and thrown to the wind, (t1) 
> > > 3:10:02 PM of 10/10/06 would
> > > still subjectively follow (t2) 3:10:01 PM of 10/10/06 even though there 
> > > is no connection or "flow"
> > > of information between them. If you look at how t1 and t2 are generated, 
> > > then yes, there is a
> > > connection - they both come out of your head - but once generated, they 
> > > form a natural sequence
> > > which cannot be disrupted.
> >
> > But my point about the 'coherence' of consciousness is that it seems
> > (especially from what occurs, or fails to occur, when it deteriorates)
> > that complex representation and processing of *temporally extended*
> > information sequences (e.g. grasp of the entirety of the content and
> > meaning of a sentence or proposition) is necessary for one to
> > experience and act as a fully-functioning conscious individual.
> > Consequently, it seems to me that such processes must converge on OMs
> > in which all the necessary information is fully encoded and expressed
> > (which is essentially what Barbour seems to be claiming for his 'time
> > capsules' - e.g. his 'flight of the kingfisher' example). Without this,
> > the alternative seems to be that the individual random, wind-blown
> > seconds of your metaphor would need to be totalised in some additional
> > non-information-based manner in order to coordinate an ensemble of
> > informationally incomplete, discrete elements into coherent
> > experiences. AFAICS they only 'form a natural sequence' from the
> > quasi-objective perspective of our philosophical stance. And such
> > coordination is in any case what we were assuring Peter was both
> > unnecessary and impossible.
> We have to distinguish between what actually happens to create the moments of 
> a stream of
> consciousness and what is the minimum logically necessary that needs to 
> happen. My brain must
> at some subconscious level have the structure of the whole sentence spanning 
> a 2 second interval
> t1-t2 or else the sentence could not be generated. But that's just an 
> engineering problem: if the
> moments t1 and t2 come about with exactly the right sort of phenomenal 
> content, magically, or
> by random processes, then I will experience a coherent 2 second span of 
> consciousness in which I
> utter the full sentence. The only way I might not experience this is if there 
> is something wrong with
> the actual phenomenal content of t1 and t2: if whatever vague sense I have of 
> the whole sentence
> during t1 and t2 is missing during either or both intervals, then I would 
> forget what I was saying.
> The vague sense of the whole sentence has two parts, in t1 and t2, just as 
> the sentence itself has
> two parts. If we had a longer sentence through further nitervals t3, t4 and 
> t5, it could be, for example,
> that during t4 the sense of the whole sentence is completely absent, and only 
> in retrospect from t5 is
> it seen that t4 was part of the whole. This sort of thing happens all the 
> time during absent-minded
> moments, and we rely on the machinery of the brain keeping track of 
> everything to generate successive
> moments of consciousness which pull everything back into coherence.
> Stathis Papaioannou
> _________________________________________________________________
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