2009/8/25 John Mikes <jami...@gmail.com>:

> David, (and Stathis?)
> I appreciate David's 1,2,3, variations on the "it's or "our", but  you just
> destroyed my position with
> "I should perhaps emphasise that purely for the purposes of the
> argument I'm assuming brain = mind to be a one-for-one correlation."
> Well, not entirely.
> If WE cannot desipher the 'meanings' ('context') of our brainwork how can an
> alien observer do it? Or better: if we need the
> "historic and current context of experience and action"
> what 'meanings will the alien decipher in THEIR context and action in THEIR
> experience?
> Do the aliens base the world on human numbers?
> Just musing
>
> John M

Just so. To recapitulate the (approximate) history of this part of the
discussion, Peter and I had been delving into the question - posed by
him - of whether a complete scan of a brain at the subatomic level
could in principle capture all the available 'information'.  So my
rider about brain-mind correlation was in the context of that specific
question posed in that specific way.

As to your more general musings John, I suppose the line I've been
pursuing is questioning the applicability of the soi-disant 'view from
nowhere' - i.e. the notion of 'information' as being comprehensible in
any totally extrinsic, abstracted, uninterpreted sense.  Because we
can't help being fish, we can't help but swim in our interpretations.
And we can only guess what oceans alien fish may swim in.

It seems as though we can comprehend 'mind' only in terms of some
self-instantiating, self-interpreting context, in which meaning
depends always on the self-relating logic of differentiation and
interaction.   Hence the 'perspective' of mind is always intrinsic,
and 'meaning' doesn't survive abstraction to any extremity of
'external' observation.  We can comprehend the 'externalised' flux -
i.e. what is abstractable out-of-context - as somehow correlative of
mind with mind, and mind with matter.  But whatever meaning is finally
recoverable will again be 'as received' - i.e. as re-interpreted in
its context of arrival.

This reminds me of the aphorism that "the meaning of a communication
is the response it elicits".  Just consider the regress of nested
interpretations *that* implies!

David

>
> On Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 8:33 AM, David Nyman <david.ny...@gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> 2009/8/24 Stathis Papaioannou <stath...@gmail.com>:
>> >
>> >> In the example of the alien brain, as has been pointed out, the
>> >> context of meaning is to be discovered only in the its own local
>> >> embodiment of its history and current experience.  In Stathis' example
>> >> of *our* hypothesized observation of the alien's behaviour - whether
>> >> simulated or 'real' - any meaning to be found is again recoverable
>> >> exclusively in the context of either its, or our, historic and current
>> >> context of experience and action.  It is obvious, under this analysis,
>> >> that information taken-out-of-context is - in that form - literally
>> >> meaningless.  The function of observable information is to stabilise
>> >> relational causal configurations against their intelligible
>> >> reinstantiation in some context of meaning and action.  Absent such
>> >> reembodiment, all that remains is noise.
>> >
>> > Wouldn't the meaning (to the alien) still be there if the brain did
>> > its thing without us understanding it, creating its own context? You
>> > can divide it into two interacting parts, one the brain proper, the
>> > other the virtual environment. The brain finds meaning in and
>> > interacts with the environment, but to an outside observer it all just
>> > looks like noise.
>> >
>> Yes, exactly - that's what I intend by: "any meaning to be found is
>> again recoverable exclusively in the context of either its, or our,
>> historic and current context of experience and action".  "Either its
>> or our" here splits into:
>>
>> 1) Any meaning available to the alien would be situated in terms of
>> its locally embodied historic and current interpretative context.
>> 2) Any meaning recoverable by an observer would be bounded by her own
>> historic and current interpretative context.
>> 3) No meaning is recoverable outside the foregoing interpretative
>> contexts.
>>
>> I should perhaps emphasise that purely for the purposes of the
>> argument I'm assuming brain = mind to be a one-for-one correlation.
>>
>> Having said all this, it is interesting to reconsider your formulation
>> "the brain did its thing without us understanding it, creating its own
>> context".  What is it about *being* the brain that causes this context
>> to be self-referentially available, but hides it beyond possibility of
>> recovery from 'observation'?  Again this is the crux of the question
>> that Peter poses.  If one hold that *all* the information is in
>> principle available to external observation, how could the foregoing
>> be true?  And indeed, if one consistently follows an eliminativist
>> path, one cannot consistently hold it to be true; rather one must hold
>> that colour-deprived Mary, because of the extraordinary scope of her
>> 'objective knowledge' of colour, has in fact no surprises in store
>> when she finally 'sees redly'.
>>
>> Can this be made plausible?  Well, oddly, if I try this for size in
>> the form of a gedanken experiment, I can find one - and only one - way
>> to make it so.  It is to conclude that - given Mary, for the
>> experiment to be viable, must possess the intrinsic capacity for
>> colour vision - her interpretation of the objective data is so
>> complete that it permits her to *imagine redly*.  IOW the
>> meaning-in-context for Mary - the immediate local effect of
>> stimulation of her retinas by red-wavelength light - is in fact
>> recoverable in the context of her locally available interpretative
>> capacities, just as it will be again when she finally leaves the
>> laboratory.
>>
>> David
>>
>> >
>> >
>> > --
>> > Stathis Papaioannou
>> >
>> > >
>> >
>>
>>
>
>
> >
>

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