piątek, 17 sierpnia 2012

Reading Thomas Metzinger -- the self

What is the role of the self? Based on chapter 5, (mostly)
subchapters 6.1--6.3, and section 6.4.2 of "Being No One". Note that I
only cover stuff where I want to add (or question) something, many
interesting things get omitted.

Phenomenal Self Model

It seems that the Phenomenal Model of the Intentionality Relation is a
structure and process for managing attention. When an object is
integrated into PMIR, the directing of attention towards that object
is available phenomenally (i.e. available for action control, concept
formation and "higher order" attention). PMIR will be basis of next post.

Integrating the Phenomenal Self Model into the world model provides
for relations between the PSM concept and the concepts of "outside"
objects. Such relations are basis of goal-directed behavior (when a
simulated relation is different than an actual relation).

The PSM integrates also the representation of any process that
preattentively integrates a set of features as an object. Only then
the object becomes attentionally available, so this is even more basic
than PMIR, it enables all "higher order" relations. I'm not sure
whether Metzinger thinks the object is available for concept formation
prior to this integration into PSM, it is unlikely given the lack of
attention. But for sure, what is here integrated is the distinct
concept of perceiving the object. Now it becomes possible to have the
goal of "taking a better look" at an object. This is a considerable
limitation over how I imagined attentional availability, but since a
global availability means integration into world model, it shouldn't
be much harder to also integrate it subjectively, i.e. into the
PSM. The very object formation already happens in the world-model and
the PSM, and in this process the object-encoding processes become
mental representations, i.e. potentially globally available.

PSM is distinguished in the representational space by high
invariability. Attention (for PSM and generally) might be driven to
"places" where the output of the model and the input of the senses
differs the most. But the background self-awareness is always present.

All properties of the system are represented in one integrated data
format, i.e. the PSM is "holistic".

"The nervous system, and this will be true for the particular case
of self-representation as well, is not so much a top-down controller,
but more a system whose task consists in generating adequate patterns
within [the body - nervous system - environment] overall
dynamics. [...] [I]f an internal self-model is to be a successful
instrument in predicting the future behavioral dynamics of an
individual system, it must in some way mirror or reflect important
functional characteristics of precisely that part of its internal
dynamics, which in the end will cause the overt actions in question."

"A fully grounded self-model would simply disappear. In principle,
phenomenal selfhood emerges as long as there is a conflict or
incoherence between bottom-up and top-down processes, between
expectancy and actual perception." The discrepancy draws attention to
the respective emulators in general, making them conscious,
i.e. globally available for flexible reaction. "A certain level of
autonomous, residual self-modeling is preserved."  Note that dynamics
(including goal-directedness) is part of the self-model.

Revisiting Transparency

Metzinger makes a general comment that I might have missed in my
discussion of transparency (don't remember). Content is phenomenally
opaque when it is presented as representational, i.e. as correlated
with a different presented content (for example, an imaginated
rehearsing self is correlated with the actual self integrated into the
"Now"). But later in the section he goes on with the old confusion :-(
First, by having a "fully opaque" self experience being an experience
of a ghost or spirit (disembodied entity). Later, he seems to say that
opaqueness is the "presentation" of misrepresentation in
presentational content. But then he writes "There is always
self-presentational content, there are always emotions and gut
feelings, for instance, and presentational content is always fully
transparent." Yet this is specifically about the self, so that's
OK. It looks like "presented as misrepresentational" is achieved by
having the relation, but missing the target process with which the
opaque content is supposed to correlate.

This transparency confusion makes it difficult to decipher notions
such as "nemocentric reality model (centered on a globally available,
but fully opaque self-model embedded in the current virtual window of
presence)", because here it certainly is not about presenting
misrepresentation (in neither the simulation nor the
pseudo-hallucination form). It is also not (or is only to a degree)
about representing an independently presented content (neither in the
simulation sense nor in the "constitutionally earlier stages of
processing" sense). Although I have an intuition what "fully opaque"
is supposed to mean here, where is the meat? "For any phenomenal
representation, its degree of phenomenal opacity is given by the
degree of attentional availability of earlier processing stages."
Yeah, you've already told that... OK, I uderstand "fully opaque"
as that the dependency of every processing stage on an earlier stage
(or generally -- bidirectionally, on other stages) is represented.

"My hypothesis is that the phenomenon of transparent self-modeling
developed as an evolutionary viable strategy because it constituted a
reliable way of making system-related information available without
entangling the system in endless internal loops of higher-order
self-modeling." No, the solution was already flourishing before the
problem developed :-)

Transparency finale: "A transparent representation is characterized by
the fact that the only properties accessible to introspective
attention are their content properties. It does not allow for the
representation of a vehicle-content distinction using on-board
resources. [...] If I engage in typical cognitive activities like
reasoning, and if I then direct my introspective attention to this
process as it unfolds, I experience myself as operating with internal
representations that I am deliberately constructing myself. They do
not imply the existence of their simulanda, and they might be
coreferential with other mental representations of myself without me
knowing this very fact. [...] [T]he phenomenology of transparent
experience is the phenomenology of not only knowing but of also
knowing that you know while you know; opaque experience is the
experience of knowing while also (nonconceptually, attentionally)
knowing that you may be wrong."

Role of Objects

"Global availability of information always means availability for
transient, dynamical integration with the currently active
self-model." I don't know what's the added value of PMIR over just
integration into "the window of presence and global model of the
world", we'll see...

Does "Phenomenal self-presentation is anchored in mental
self-presentation" mean that what is experienced is always part of
what could be experienced? I.e. that there's always more to direct
attention to? It probably speaks about the world-model and self-model

"It is, of course, an interesting question, whether the abstract,
normally unconscious processing stages preceding volitional and
phenomenally self-modeled movement selection can already count as
egocentric representations, or whether this is precisely the step at
which those computations are integrated into a self-representation,
which also makes them conscious. In any case it now seems plausible to
assume that what gets integrated into the PSM of the organism as a now
deliberating subject is a determinate, single, and concrete
representation of a specific behavior."

The PMIR might be the key to intersubjectivity: its representation
can be its object.

Goal representations (via goal-encoded objects) are in nonegocentric
frames of reference, they can be integrated into the PSM for actual
behavior and for self-simulation, they can be integrated into
"allocentric frames", simulations of others integrated into PSM as
simulations, or just unconsciously activated by mirror neurons. And
mirror neurons first emulate low-level, non-goal movements. Low-level
and high-level resonance mechanisms do not coincide. Goal-encoded
objects are object representations with selection mechanisms for a
repertoire of actions like various grasping behaviors.

Linguistic concepts are much more than simple concepts (i.e. processes
that represent other processes non-homomorphically but by activation
links, and so gain recombinability), they are goal-encoded objects,
having qualia as all objects, here the words or other symbols.

piątek, 3 sierpnia 2012

Foundations of my systemic metaphysics

My inner anti-anti-realist: "Let's do some metaphysics!"
My inner positivist: "You must be kidding! Such frivolous activities will waste your mind."
My inner neopragmatist: "Come on, inner positivist. Some frivolity is not necessarily a bad thing. Would you rather have us watch 'Dark Knight Rises'?"
My inner positivist: "Well... I'm not taking part in this, anyway."
My inner neopragmatist: "I'd rather have us write some poetry, but I'm not gonna spend this evening alone. Bring out your toys, inner anti-anti-realist."

Reality is indexical

My inner anti-anti-realist claims that the following is roughly right, although it might require corrections.
  1. Objects of mathematical nontrivial theories are some of the processes: their processuality is the way in which they are constructed from the corresponding theories. Constructivists are invited to consider only constructive mathematics. Other processes are similar in that they are not "standalone", but are parts of systems.
    1. Finitists are encouraged to share their mathematics with constructivists and read below about what mathematical objects are real.
  2. We divide processes into two disjoint groups: platonic processes and physical processes. Platonic processes are mostly mathematical objects, but also qualia are platonic processes too; if the reader does not wish to think that qualia are real, then mathematical objects might suffice; if the reader has a bent towards humanities, then even literary characters can qualify as platonic processes. Platonic processes are "not fully individuated". Physical processes are "fully individuated". They are mostly the processes which could in principle have the reader as a necessary cause, and other processes like that. Even if the reader participates in a creative process, the platonic deed is "discovered", is a cause of the physical creative process.
    1. It is allowed for physical processes to in some sense be mathematical objects.
  3. A metaphysical system consists of a triple: a separation of processes into platonic and physical ones, a distinguished process (the index), and a ternary relation among processes, called causation.
    1. A metaphysical system serves as a formalization of the philosophical concept of reality.
  4. We call a direct cause the antecedent, first term of a causation relation, we call direct effect the consequent, second term of a causation relation, and we call the third term of a causation relation the individuation.
    1. A single process cannot have two direct effects with the same individuation.
    2. You can think of individuation as fixing of parameters or fixing of the reference frame.
    3. We are speaking in terms of necessary causes, not of sufficient causes.
    4. A process can have many direct causes and effects.
  5. We call a cause and an effect the antecedent and consequent of the transitive closure of the causality relation, ignoring the individuation term.
    1. When we talk about cause and effect but require the existence of individuation, it is a shorthand for talking about direct cause and direct effect.
  6. We define past reality as all causes of the distinguished process:
    1. The distinguished process is past-real.
    2. A cause of a past-real process is past-real.
    3. No other processes are past-real.
  7. If a process correlates with an object of mathematical theory, that object is one its causes.
    1. I have not yet established, how causation among mathematical objects, i.e. platonic processes, looks like.
  8. A platonic process cannot have a physical cause. But see the following point.
  9. If a physical process A has platonic cause B with individuation X, process B has platonic effect C, and physical process D has platonic cause C with the same individuation X, then A has effect D.
  10. Arbitrary one of the physical processes that correspond to the unity of the consciousness of the reader is the distinguished process (the index).
    1. Here the use of physicality forbids the "leakage" of reality, where only an abstraction of the reader is taken as an index.
  11. Every information flow is a causal flow.
  12. New information cannot appear from nothing: a  non-decomposable process adds information by combining causes. There has to be sufficient number of processes to account for all information.
  13. We define necessity inductively:
    1. The distinguished process is necessary.
    2. A cause of a necessary process is necessary.
    3. For a process P that has at least one direct cause that is necessary and is not an effect of P, take S to be the set of all processes that are both a cause and an effect of P (possibly indirect). If all causes of all processes in S are either necessary or in S, then P is necessary (and therefore S are necessary).
      1. No other processes are necessary.
    4. We call real all necessary physical processes and their causes.
    5. A possible universe is a set of processes U that is closed under necessity, i.e.:
      1. A cause of a process in U is in U.
      2. For a process P that has at least one direct cause that is in U and is not an effect of P, take S to be the set of all processes that are both a cause and an effect of P (possibly indirect). If all causes of all processes in S are either in U or in S, then P is in U (and therefore S is contained in U).
    6. A set S is a sufficient set of causes for a process C, if all causes of C can be traced back to S, i.e. if every possible universe that contains S also contains C.
    7. A possible universe whose all processes are platonic is called a platonic universe.
    8. simulation of a platonic universe U is a set of physical processes S, such that there is an individuation X, that for every platonic process B in U there is a process A in S such that B is a cause of A with individuation X.
      1. A synonym for "simulation" is "a physical correlate".
    9. When two simulations simulate the same platonic universe, we call one an emulation of the other.
    10. All necessary physical processes and their causes are real.
    11. An embedded metaphysics differs from a metaphysical system only in that point 11 does not hold for it.
    12. An embedded metaphysics A is valid with respect to a metaphysical system B via a homomorphism of causality h, if for every process P that is real in A, process h(P) is real in B.
    13. An embedded metaphysics A is possible with respect to a metaphysical system B via a homomorphism of causality h, if for every process P that is real in A, process h(P) is necessary in B.
    14. Materialism: were a real platonic process to differ, the physical processes over which it supervenes would differ as well.
      1. More generally: if only a subprocess of a process is essential for its effect, only the subprocess is a necessary cause of the effect.


    Would the platonic "Permutation City" be real according to the physical characters of the book, if they used the presented metaphysics?

    czwartek, 2 sierpnia 2012

    Reading Thomas Metzinger -- vehicle vs. content

    On page 294 (5.4, "From Mental to Phenomenal Self-Presentation:
    Embodiment and Immediacy"), the author writes "There will be a level
    of elementary bioregulation, arguably a level of molecular-level,
    biochemical self- organization, at which it simply is forced—from a
    conceptual third-person perspective— to maintain the distinction
    between content and vehicle." and later writes "As soon as more
    empirical data are available, it will be a task for philosophy to
    demarcate a more fine-grained level of description on which it is
    plausible to assume a full match between content and causal role, that
    is, the identity of vehicle and content." This is very unclear to me.

    (BTW: Later, the author writes about the brain being insensitive to itself,
    but does not discuss headache.)

    There is an intentional vehicle-content distinction, and a phenomenal
    one. The intentional, i.e. referential, content is obvious, it is the
    referents (the representanda). The phenomenal content is "the way
    certain representational states feel from the first-person
    perspective." In 8.2 "Preliminary Answers" answer to "What is the
    “phenomenal content” of mental states, as opposed to their
    representational or “intentional content?”", "It is a special form of
    intentional content, namely, in satisfying the constraints developed
    in chapters 3 and 6." It cannot be right, since the constraints can be
    only satisfied by intentional vehicle, not content. Is it supposed to
    mean, that "phenomenal content" is the semantical aspect of
    (phenomenal) experience? That would be an interesting thesis: how
    conscious processes "feel" is what they mean. Continuing the question,
    "Are there examples of mentality exhibiting one without the other? Do
    double dissociations exist?", Metzinger says:

    "Double dissociations do not exist. There certainly is unconscious
    intentional content. A lot of it. But in ecologically valid standard
    situations there is no conscious state that is not a representational
    state in some way (for a nonstandard situation, cf. the abstract
    geometrical hallucinations [...] [which are] purely Phenomenal
    content). [...] there is no example of phenomenal content that is not
    also directed at some target object, property, or relation. Please
    note that this does not mean that the experiential subject has to have
    the slightest clue about what the intentional object of his or her
    experiences actually is. In many cases, for example, in living through
    diffuse feelings and emotions (like jealousy), the original
    intentional object may be millions of years away. It may not exist
    anymore. The original representandum may be something that was only
    present in the world of our distant ancestors."