David Nyman wrote:
> 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
>> 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.
I sometimes have the feeling you're saying something interesting...and
wishing I knew what it was.
> 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!
>> 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
>>> 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
>>>> Stathis Papaioannou
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