On 5/26/2012 11:57 AM, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:
I have just finished reading Understanding Consciousness by Max Velmans and below there are a couple of comments to the book.

The book is similar to Jeffrey Gray's Consciousness: Creeping up on the Hard Problem in a sense that it takes phenomenal consciousness seriously. Let me give an example. Imagine that you watch yourself in the mirror. Your image that you observe in the mirror is an example of phenomenal consciousness.

The difference with Jeffrey Gray is in the question where the image that you see in the mirror is located. If we take a conventional way of thinking, that is,

1) photons are reflected by the mirror
2) neurons in retina are excited
3) natural neural nets starts information processing

then the answer should be that this image is in your brain. It seems to be logical as, after all, we know that there is nothing after the mirror.

However, it immediately follows that not only your image in the mirror is in your brain but rather everything that your see is also in your brain. This is exactly what one finds in Gray's book "The world is inside the head".

Velmans takes a different position that he calls reflexive model of perception. According to him, what we consciously experience is located exactly where we experience it. In other words, the image that you see in the mirror is located after the mirror and not in your brain. A nice picture that explains Velmans' idea is at

http://blog.rudnyi.ru/2012/05/brain-and-world.html

Velmans introduces perceptual projection but this remains as the Hard Problem in his book, how exactly perceptual projection happens.

Velmans contrast his model with reductionism (physicalism) and dualism and interestingly enough he finds many common features between reductionism and dualism. For example, the image in the mirror will be in the brain according to both reductionism and dualism. This part could be interesting for Stephen.

Hi Evgenii,

I would be very interested if Velmans discussed how the model would consider multiple observers of the image in the mirror and how the images that are in the brains of the many are coordinated such that there is always a single consistent world of mirrors and brains and so forth.


First I thought that perceptual projection could be interpreted similar to Craig's senses but it is not the case. Velmans' reflexive monism is based on a statement that first- and third-person views cannot be combined (this is what Bruno says). From a third-person view, one observes neural correlates of consciousness but not the first-person view. Now I understand such a position much better.

Is this third-person view (3p) one that is not ever the actual first-person (1p) of some actual observer? I can only directly experience my own content of consciousness, so the content of someone else is always only known via some description. How is this idea considered, if at all?


Anyway the the last chapter in the book is "Self-consciousness in a reflexive universe".

I am interested in "communications between self-conscious entities in a reflexive universe". ;-) Does Velmans discuss any abstract models of reflexivity itself?


Evgenii



--
Onward!

Stephen

"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."
~ Francis Bacon


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