2009/9/10 Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com>:

> But isn't that because the "computational" in CTM is abstracted away
> from a context in which there is action and purpose.  It's the same
> problem that leads to the question, "Does a rock compute every
> function?"  When looking at a physical process as a computation one has
> to ask, "Computing what?" and the answer is in terms of some interaction
> with the rest of the world in which the computation is embedded, e.g.
> the answer will mean something to the programmer who started it and it
> means something to him because he's a human animal that evolved to have
> goals and values and can take actions.  The level of experience, the
> finess or coarsenss of physical process, is determined by the level at
> which there are actions.

Yes, I agree with your analysis completely when evaluating any
externally observed situation.  The trouble is that I think if this
approach is followed with mentality then the experiential aspect just
gets lost in the processual account.  For example your saying "the
level of experience, the finess or coarsenss of physical process, is
determined by the level at which there are actions" immediately
focuses attention at the interface with the environment, where inputs
and outputs can be equivalent for many internally heterogeneous
internal processes.  This makes perfect sense in the evaluation of a
person's, a computer's, or a rock's computational status, if any,
because this becomes relevant only at the point where something
emerges from the interior to engage with the environment.

It's a big leap from that to showing how heterogeneous physical
processes are internally experientially equivalent *for clearly
explicable physical reasons*.  The reason for my emphasis of
*physical* is that my problem with CTM, at least in this discussion,
is not that it is computational, but that it isn't a physical theory
in any standard sense, since it can't justify the attachment of
experience to any particular events for other than *functional*
reasons.

Re-reading the foregoing reminds me of my basic problem with any
purely third person approach to mentality, whether physical or
functional. Considered from the third person perspective, 'mental'
processes have no need to be experiential homogeneous because
everything functionally relevant is assumed to be exhausted in the
processual account, and hence experience could be nothing but
epiphenomenal to this.  So what difference could it make?  But that is
another discussion.

David

>
> David Nyman wrote:
>> 2009/9/10 Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com>:
>>
>>
>>>> Yes, I agree.  But if we're after a physical theory, we also want to
>>>> be able to give in either case a clear physical account of their
>>>> apprehensiveness, which would include a physical justification of why
>>>> the fine-grained differences make no difference at the level of
>>>> experience.
>>>>
>>> Consider what a clear physical account of apprehensiveness might be:
>>> There's an increased level of brain activity which is similar to that
>>> caused by a strange sound when along in the dark, a slight rise in
>>> adrenaline, a tensing of muscles that would be used to flee, brain
>>> patterns formed as memories while watching slasher movies become more
>>> excited.  Fine-grained differences below these levels, as might differ
>>> in others, are irrelevant to the experience.  For comparison consider a
>>> Mars rover experiencing apprehension: Sensor signals indicate lack of
>>> traction which implies likely inability to reach it's next sampling
>>> point.  Extra battery power is put on line and various changes in paths
>>> and backtracking are calculated.  Mission control is apprised.   The
>>> soil appearance related to poor traction is entered into a database with
>>> a warning note.
>>> Notice how the meaning, the content of 'apprehension' comes from the
>>> context of action and purpose and interaction with an external world.
>>> We summarize these things as a single word 'apprehension' which we then
>>> take to describe a strictly internal state. But that is because we have
>>> abstracted away the circumstances that give the meaning.  There are
>>> difference cirmcustances that would give the same hightened states.
>>>
>>
>> Whilst I am of course in sympathy with the larger import of you're
>> saying, Brent, I'm not sure how it's relevant to the intentionally
>> more restricted focus of the current discussion.  It is by definition
>> true that "fine-grained differences below these levels, as might
>> differ in others, are irrelevant to the experience".  My point still
>> is that a complete physical theory of consciousness would be capable
>> of explicating - both in general physical principles and in detail -
>> the relation between coarse and fine-grained physical accounts of an
>> experiential state, whatever the wider context in which it might be
>> embedded.  Or IOW, of explaining what physical principles and
>> processes are responsible for the fineness of fine graining and the
>> coarseness of coarse graining.  CTM doesn't appear to offer any
>> physically explicit route to this goal.
>>
>> David
> But isn't that because the "computational" in CTM is abstracted away
> from a context in which there is action and purpose.  It's the same
> problem that leads to the question, "Does a rock compute every
> function?"  When looking at a physical process as a computation one has
> to ask, "Computing what?" and the answer is in terms of some interaction
> with the rest of the world in which the computation is embedded, e.g.
> the answer will mean something to the programmer who started it and it
> means something to him because he's a human animal that evolved to have
> goals and values and can take actions.  The level of experience, the
> finess or coarsenss of physical process, is determined by the level at
> which there are actions.
>
> Brent
>
> Bretn
>
> >
>

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