Socrates Redux

John is well aware that …

… sometimes these dialogues live on beyond the publication date, even when there are just two chaps chatting. That is why the chaps are trying to work out how to not lose that spirit, but at the same time make sure our esteemed readers also benefit from the ‘chap rap’.

Trust me, it’s complicated enough when just two chaps are involved, but we are confident that we will get there. But now there’s a bit of a wrinkle. Turns out that even before we arrive at a solution, yet another chap has weighed in on the comments, where we also dialogue.

Not of itself a problem – afterall – comments have been scurrying in for a while now. No, the problem lies with the other chap …

oh yeah – blame it on me

… who is not satisfied with leaving a particular dialogue in the comments but rather wants to introduce the other chap and bring one of those comments into a post of its own. Are you with me?

So here’s the deal – back in this postyet another chap weighed in with rather a hefty set of thoughts that the other chap wants to comment on – as a post. This chap already knows he is out of his depth, so offered to set the scene … and at the same time introduce you to yet another chap who has things on his mind.

Yet Another Chap …
… said this in the comments to the post on Socratic Angst.

What strikes me about Dmitry Itskov’s program, which of course has been a subject for any number of science fiction plots, is its radical egocentrism. A best, Descartes mind/body mistake taken to the extreme. Or maybe the trap of modeling the brain as an information process system.

If I may perhaps continue?

Sorry …

… you better get used to it ‘yet another chap’…

I think the brain needs to be thought of as an extension of the senses. Without a connection to the environment, which includes other people, in an epistemological sense, the activities of the mind no longer exists. (Yes, there may be a slight of hand here: brain = mind.)

If a tree fall in a forest, does it make sound? What is the ontological reality of pi if the ratio exists exclusively in one mute mind? (This one is tricky too though. Neil Stephenson tried to write an entire novel about the reality of mathematical concepts. Didn’t like the book very much.)

From another point of view, consider the results of sensory deprivation. Without the senses, ‘reality’ recedes. I would argue this is because without the senses, the mind is missing essential parts. This is different than just lacking sense data.

So to capture and reproduce a mind (interesting that it is referred sometimes as personality or identity), you need to reproduce the senses as well. All 9 to 21 of them. And any artificial reproduction of them, I will argue, would create a different mind.

Final thought. A persuasive theory of speech perception is referred to as the motor theory. It posits that words are represented cognitively by vocal tract gestures. In an extreme form, the motor theory suggests that consciousness emerges as these representation become more neurologically distinct, and thus that proprioceptive senses and audition are a prerequisite to consciousness. (This needs to account for language acquisition by the congenitally deaf, though a parallel between gestures of the limbs and vocal tract gestures immediately suggests itself.)

And then there are mirror neurons.

Over to Graham …

Graham cogitates, girds loins for discourse, clears throat, and…


… concludes with a degree of relief that, on balance, this will be too long a post anyway, and so …

No disagreement there – except to say that it is amazing how ‘Along Came Polly’ starring Ben Stiller, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jennifer Aniston – not to mention Debra Messing, Hank Azaria and Alec Baldwin can be so ignored. I mean it is quite a cute movie.

But I agree – that’s altogether another thing.

Graham will continue in Part II

… of course he will.