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Pinky
11621.  Tue Nov 30, 2004 5:57 pm Reply with quote

JumpingJack wrote:
Pinky

A very warm and pinkish hello to you.


A suffusion of blood in my capillaries in return! Hello!

Quote:
Interestingly, or quite interestingly perhaps, I am presently engaged in research to clarify a philosophical position that lies mid-way between a materialist account of the nature of being and a constructivist position. This is broadly defined as functionalism.


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This is not what we hereabouts mean by 'quite interesting' because it is completely impossible to follow unless you are already some kind of professional philosopher.


A good point, and as a part-time professional philosopher and former full-time professional philosopher may I add that many if not all of our kind share this difficulty in following this. Any philosopher, in my humblest opinion, who says he doesn't probably deserves a hearty slap and a biscuit. I'm continually wrestling with it, back-tracking and clarifying it all. I have moments of lucidity with it all and go 'aha' that's it - an encapsulated context problem! but it usually wears off and I'm back to feeling somewhat baffled. I take your point in the 'quite interesting' department. Feel free to stop me if it ceases to be interesting at all!



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I doubt not that it is more than merely quite interesting, but how can one tell if one does not know what either 'constructivist' or 'functionalism' mean?


Take a peak at my reply to Jenny. As for functionalism, I'm in the process of arguing that what is *most* interesting about 'the mental' as Bretano puts it, is not what it's made of (brains, rhubarb, bits of string or silicon chips), but what it does. This is functionalism as a philosophical brand in a nutshell. As you can see if you wade past the impenetrable stuff in Ned Blocks fine but terminologically dense article is that there are many sub-brands of functionalism and we're all still rather bamboozled by it all ourselves. I know I am. In other words, I am fascinated by asking questions about what things that we think are 'mental' do - and not what they lie in (instantiation). Where they come from and how they got there are also of interest, but still somewhat secondary to the 'doing' bit.

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Most of us are still struggling with 'ontology' and 'dualism'.


Ah. Rightly so. It's all very fishy stuff. Ontology is about the nature of being. So it's about what being *is* essentially. Dualism is a position on the nature of mind-body (and reality of course) that holds them apart as two different kinds of stuff. We can thank Rene for that one.

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If you can break down the jargon so that it can be followed by an intelligent thirteen year old– of whom there is at least one posting here on a regular basis– we would all be very grateful.


Unlikely. I am at the tender age of 33 years and still suffer with jargonitis. Unfortunately jargon is a necessary evil in discussing these matters. Defining the jargon is an even more evil problem within these discussions!

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The first eight lines of the link, incidentally, were more than enough to remind me why we started QI.


Again - just yell stop if it's all becoming a bore!

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If I can't make head or tail of such an excerpt, and if this is a good example of a 'promising philosophical postition' then it's no wonder that there is no body of philosophical information that we can all agree on.


There you have hit, as they say, the nail firmly on the head and it's now intractably embedded into the very plank of the problem. It's because we can't agree on a body of philosophical information that keeps the whole merry affair bubbling along. That's why I'm engaged (lazily and in between judicious reality checks and beer) in looking at a 'middle position' and 'functionalist' approach. There are so many 'polar views' that no one is able to talk to each other sensibly! Apologies for all the scare quotes and finger waving - bloody annoying - another philosophical hang-over I'm afraid!

 
Pinky
11623.  Tue Nov 30, 2004 6:18 pm Reply with quote

jme:) wrote:
This converstaion is lacking direction. Two summarise thus far i believe knowledge lies in two spheres as I said before:

There are two types of knowledge..that which is just imformation and is a type held in theory but to which..at least for the present time for the self...has no physical reality.

The second type, true knowledge if you like, exists everywhere. Our mental capacities restrict us to knowing so little. The first type links to the this type by acknowldgement..i.e. realising that either this knowledge has a name (i.e. information knowledge becomes real) or that what we learned as information now has a connection to our perceptions of reality. This is the clause....in the perceptions of that real but i quote Einstein in that 'the difference between genius and insanity is marked only by success'.

Now I believe in the second instance the talk here is going tangental to the curve. If we trace a learning curve then the 4 phases of learning are:

1. Unconcious incompetence
2. Concious incompetence
3. Concious competence
4. Unconcious competence

And there we have true knowledge (given by the two latter stages) assuming that our perceptions are correct. But by what gauge do we measure success...that indeed is the real problem!


Ah very nicely put. And indeed I agree we are indeed, all over the place or as you put it tangental to the curve.

I would be interested to hear the philosophical arguments that detaches information from reality as a type of knowledge and is held only in theory. Could you direct me to some recent authors/reading? I get where you are coming from but would like to refresh myself on them. It implies that information can exist without 'extension'. I would argue (in the strictly philosophical sense) that this would necessitate putting the verdiciality of reality 'on hold' so to speak to hold this as true. Now I'm not against this in principle, I just want to know where this would get me!

As for your elegant summation of Expert-Novice shifts in knowledge I can't disagree there. Although I'd warn you that much time will be spent debating about what is 'unconscious' and 'conscious' and the whole ruddy affair starts off again! Of course, I take it this is what you mean by 'gauging success'. Perhaps a light diet of Dretske would help in teasing out this matter? Again this points to a representational perspective.

Expert-Novice shifting (from the unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence) can be characterized by a development of implicit to explicit to implicit coding of information (I'd direct you to read Berry and Dienes for that kind of stuff). Or a process of 'automatization' as it is sometimes known.

Best, Pinky

 
Pinky
11624.  Tue Nov 30, 2004 6:38 pm Reply with quote

JumpingJack wrote:
And while you're about it Pinky perhaps you can explain why I can read and understand Plato without any great hardship but find Wittgenstein impenetrable.


Talk about trying to do numerous impossible things prior to a suitable breakfast!

To be honest I haven't had *that* much cause to read Wittgenstein very critically, nor for that matter Plato in huge depth. When I say this (to gasps of horror from any gathered professional philosophers lurking unseen behind comfortable nom-de-plumes or bushes) I would qualify this by saying that I have read commentaries upon these works and derivations of philosophy following on from Plato and Wittgenstein. To I might remark a nauseating depth.

I regret that I'm not going to be able to explain your difficulties without further (probably Socratic) questioning. Suffice to say I share your pain having suffered through Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in as close to the original text as I can manage given an appalling command of foreign languages. I have read Piaget in the native tongue (sigh) and that fairly made me bilious. Following this unpalatable diet I have digested much of Putnam, Fodor, Dennett and the like *whole* who have all been informed, inspired and directed from these (allegedly) astute forbears. I have read Bretano (a contemporary of Wittgenstein who founded 'Act Psychology') and can tell you that he also suffers from a heavy dose of near opacity of meaning.

Upshot - it speaks to nothing of your own command for understanding. More an intellectual stamina I'd say. You'll have to excuse me now as I go in search of a Rennie...

Best,
Pinky

 
Jenny
11627.  Tue Nov 30, 2004 10:49 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
For example, somebody is depressed. The psychiatrist says, he's depressed because he hasn't got enough serotonin (and other chemicals) in his brain. Ontological status is placed in the realm of the material and everything's super. The constructivist laughs. No, no. 'Depression' is a socially/cultural problem, a constructed term that we use to describe people who are a certain way. The problem isn't this guy's brain or lack of chemicals in it, it's because we've got this social object of depression and have labelled him 'depressed'.


Well our psychiatrist is on shaky ground, because correlation is not the same as causation, so he'd need to demonstrate that lower serotonin preceded rather than followed the depression. Our constructivist is also on shaky ground, because our poor victim isn't cheered or comforted by being told that his condition is merely a label rather than something that's making him feel bloody miserable. And neither of them seem to have taken into account that our chap's wife has just left him for somebody else and he's discovered he's got a brain tumour. In fact, why can't his depression be a consequence of the combination of all these factors, and what would we call it if it was?

 
JumpingJack
11642.  Wed Dec 01, 2004 8:33 am Reply with quote

Thank you very much Pinky. Crystal clear and most amusing.

You are now a 100% accredited member of the QI siblinghood.

The general idea – which you have taken to like a duck to oranges – is that a physicist (such as Gray for example) should be able to banter and swap ideas with a metaphysician like yourself while being readily understood by a 13 year old (such as dotcom).

You have never, incidentally, been boring – and now that you are penetrable as well, our cup runneth overeth.


Last edited by JumpingJack on Wed Dec 01, 2004 10:01 am; edited 1 time in total

 
jme:)
11648.  Wed Dec 01, 2004 9:41 am Reply with quote

Pinky,

May I first note that I am not a philosopher, at least not a reader of philosophy. Indeed, I would say I have partial interest in it. My problem, I find is that to read philosophers truly objectively is irksome. Ideally we would all have open minds, but with a sieve that filters what i shall call negative knowledge or untruths..open but critical minds I guess. However, I find it foolish to suggest this is always so and it is easy to sway in the way of a convincing argument.

This is not to say i am ignorant (or though this is true to some extent). My goal at present is to find the knowledge I have...to realise what I know of precious little, and not to learn too much which may be false (or indeed true), at leastat present, of those countless philosophers who often have discordant ideas. I think it was Eddison, that noted something like 'you cannot teach people knowledge..you can only help them find it within them' and this is parallel to my belief also. You are right that information cannot exist without extension to some reality. In the strictest sense this is true.There are a dearth of examples of it's vague truth in reality. It is perhaps more relevant for computers, which just process information, and they do not know of it (can computers perform tasks other than that which they were programmed to do...do they have inherent randomness?). Practically though if i were to ask you to remember 567828 with no reason for it....to what base does this information have relevance other than you need to remember it for me?

Generally though i agree with you so if we ignore this type then there are only two feedbacks....

1. I acknowledge information by attatching it to reality (or knowledge)
2. Reality (or knowledge) is acknowledged and then information which has some basis upon our common experiences of the definition of the word now has meaning.

This is true of all words..and thus we have defined what language is..its in this case equal to information.

If you take the greatest of these, love, then especially in the Platonic sense, we have a working system given by those two feedbacks.

Hope this is ok.

Jamie.

 
Pinky
11725.  Thu Dec 02, 2004 7:17 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
Quote:
For example, somebody is depressed. The psychiatrist says, he's depressed because he hasn't got enough serotonin (and other chemicals) in his brain. Ontological status is placed in the realm of the material and everything's super. The constructivist laughs. No, no. 'Depression' is a socially/cultural problem, a constructed term that we use to describe people who are a certain way. The problem isn't this guy's brain or lack of chemicals in it, it's because we've got this social object of depression and have labelled him 'depressed'.


Well our psychiatrist is on shaky ground, because correlation is not the same as causation, so he'd need to demonstrate that lower serotonin preceded rather than followed the depression. Our constructivist is also on shaky ground, because our poor victim isn't cheered or comforted by being told that his condition is merely a label rather than something that's making him feel bloody miserable. And neither of them seem to have taken into account that our chap's wife has just left him for somebody else and he's discovered he's got a brain tumour. In fact, why can't his depression be a consequence of the combination of all these factors, and what would we call it if it was?


Beautiful quite beautiful! There you have outlined precisely the nub of the matter. Believe it or not these polar views are, unfortunately, still driving the 'mental healthcare' system at large. Hence looking for a philosophical middle ground which would enable dialogue to occur between the views without alienating either position. Hence the functionalism malarkey.

As to what you can do with the socially constructed label, well, short of banishing it from society (tut...seditious), we can engage the 'depressed' person in a process of co-reconstruction. Urgh - impentrability alert. We can call it what *they* call it - I feel crap, miserable, low, sad, whatever and not 'depressed' or 'serotonin deprived'.

Indubitably all of the factors (and more I'm rather fraid) contribute to being crappy, miserable etc. Ontological status (as in what domain of being do I put this in) is muddied by the causality question. I'm arguing to put this on hold (let's get causality agnostic) and get on with looking at what this does or doesn't do for the person and work from there. I'm dubious as to whether we could fully get away with this, but hey, no points for not trying!

Pinky

 
Gray
11749.  Thu Dec 02, 2004 2:05 pm Reply with quote

Physics has been working on multiply-linked causes to effects (with feedback) for many decades. The topic is called Complex Adaptive Systems, and is already allowing scientists to model all sorts of processes that are opaque to reductionist approaches. With quite a lot of (occasionally uncanny) success. If we ever make anything that could remotely be called 'intelligent', it will be the product of this area of research. Ironically, this will also make it impossible to 'understand' in any classical sense, in the same way as you can't every 'understand' why an ant formicary moves the way it does just from a knowledge of individual ants' behaviour. It'll have moods and be bolshie!

And I'm flattered to be called a physicist! I prefer to think of myself as a musician-photographer-programmer-writer-science pundit. (Or 'unemployable' for short.)

 
Pinky
11756.  Thu Dec 02, 2004 3:06 pm Reply with quote

Gray wrote:
Physics has been working on multiply-linked causes to effects (with feedback) for many decades. The topic is called Complex Adaptive Systems, and is already allowing scientists to model all sorts of processes that are opaque to reductionist approaches. With quite a lot of (occasionally uncanny) success. If we ever make anything that could remotely be called 'intelligent', it will be the product of this area of research. Ironically, this will also make it impossible to 'understand' in any classical sense, in the same way as you can't every 'understand' why an ant formicary moves the way it does just from a knowledge of individual ants' behaviour. It'll have moods and be bolshie!

And I'm flattered to be called a physicist! I prefer to think of myself as a musician-photographer-programmer-writer-science pundit. (Or 'unemployable' for short.)


Oooh! Oooh! (Inflates with excitement). I'd be *much* obliged if you could point me towards a reference or two on this. It sounds very interesting. Sounds like a description of some of the connectionist (= neural networking) malarkey I was engaged in back in the early '90's.

Many grateful anticipatory thanks in advance if you could.

(Wringing of hands in excitement, followed by lying down with a cool aperitif - translation I'm off for a pint down ye local).

Pinky

 
Gray
11758.  Thu Dec 02, 2004 3:26 pm Reply with quote

My pleasure:

Good intro to CAS

Stephen Wolfram's entire book on Cellular Automata.

The 'daddy' site for CAS.

Howard Bloom's quite interesting site, full of interesting science.

Very interesting site on evolutionary systems.

Fascinating site on Self-Organization in Biological Systems.

Welcome to Algorithmic Botany!

I can also utterly, utterly recommend Kevin Kelly's (ex editor of Wired Magazine) superlative book Out Of Control, which gives an eye-popping explanation of all the ramifications of what the future holds.

Boy, I love the Internet!

 
Pinky
11759.  Thu Dec 02, 2004 3:35 pm Reply with quote

jme:) wrote:
Pinky,

May I first note that I am not a philosopher, at least not a reader of philosophy. Indeed, I would say I have partial interest in it. My problem, I find is that to read philosophers truly objectively is irksome. Ideally we would all have open minds, but with a sieve that filters what i shall call negative knowledge or untruths..open but critical minds I guess. However, I find it foolish to suggest this is always so and it is easy to sway in the way of a convincing argument.


Hi Jamie. Well met! It is a testament to the security of your ongoing sanity that you have a healthy interest in those things philosophical and a ready sense of sceptism. Indeed objectivity whilst reading philosophy is something we so-called professionals grapple with constantly. I'd suggest that your commentary indicates that you have more akin to professional standards then you think! Being able to 'sieve untruths' as you put it, (quite delightfully may I add - a nice turn of phrase I may have occasion to liberally quoth from), is something of a philosophical conundrum in itself. I agree wholeheartedly with your comment upon this.

Quote:
This is not to say i am ignorant (or though this is true to some extent). My goal at present is to find the knowledge I have...to realise what I know of precious little, and not to learn too much which may be false (or indeed true), at leastat present, of those countless philosophers who often have discordant ideas. I think it was Eddison, that noted something like 'you cannot teach people knowledge..you can only help them find it within them' and this is parallel to my belief also. You are right that information cannot exist without extension to some reality. In the strictest sense this is true.There are a dearth of examples of it's vague truth in reality. It is perhaps more relevant for computers, which just process information, and they do not know of it (can computers perform tasks other than that which they were programmed to do...do they have inherent randomness?). Practically though if i were to ask you to remember 567828 with no reason for it....to what base does this information have relevance other than you need to remember it for me?


It is self-evident that you are far from ignorant! (see above comment). Your reference to Eddison brings to mind comments reputedly made by Michelangelo in reference to his sculpting work. He said (something like) that the process of sculpting was akin to chipping away at the stone and finding the form within (e.g. David).

I would enter into a debate with you on the processing of information by computers having (sucks teeth) come from this kind of background. However I think that going tangental to the curve would be an inevitable consequence of doing so. (Steps back reluctantly from a potentially fascinating but probably not quite interesting debate). However (creaks open the door of temptation) I would suggest if this topic interests you to some degree you read almost anything by David Marr, Philip Johnson-Laird or even the dangerously penetrable but wondrously playful Alan Turing.

As for your comment on the number (unsurprisingly I forget it as that paragraph is obscured in my little typing window) you are entirely correct. Context is vital. Cued recall is always easier. It speaks to, I would suggest, the intrinsic need for a referent to something (i.e. extension). Abstract knowledge alone (as some philosophy gets) fuzzes the mind and in my opinion is actually quite unhealthy. Concrete knowledge alone becomes quite turgid, rigid and stodgy. Difference between candy-floss and porridge I suppose you could say.

Quote:
Generally though i agree with you so if we ignore this type then there are only two feedbacks....

1. I acknowledge information by attatching it to reality (or knowledge)
2. Reality (or knowledge) is acknowledged and then information which has some basis upon our common experiences of the definition of the word now has meaning.


Your first comment is, essentially, Bretano's necessary condition or a representation. That is, that there is a representing relationship between the representing, and the represented. Nice work there. You can find that stuff in Wittgenstein but it's much less palatable (see other comments of things I have read and how they disturbed my intellectual alimentary tract so to speak).

I'm afraid your second point rather lost me. I'd be grateful if you could unpack it for me a bit more? It looks like part of a triadic semiotic description of reality. Ooops, the danger alarms are ringing as I see I've strayed into technicalism again. Umm. Ah yes ok - so we attach information to reality through a representing relationship. Check. If it concords with other data - ah, by 'common experience' are you referring to your own in relative isolation (the lone scientist a la Piaget) or experiences shared with others (sounds socially constructionist which is rather trendy of you, if the latter). If I'm getting this right then what it sounds like to me is that you are saying - (1) reality is either really out there, or at least we *have* to assume that it is. (2) I cannot 'acknowledge' or 'register' information *as* information (possibly in a utilitarian sense) without having some kind of referential or representing relationship with the extended object in reality (or putated reality). (3) Meaning pops out from (bit gestaltish that, but I like it) a concordance in the socially constructed form. Gosh thats a lot to chew over. I suspect I am missing out on what you are really getting at, but that's my best effort at present. Please unpack what you mean a tad more for me and I'll see whether I can get more of a tangible grip on it!


Quote:
This is true of all words..and thus we have defined what language is..its in this case equal to information.

If you take the greatest of these, love, then especially in the Platonic sense, we have a working system given by those two feedbacks.

Hope this is ok.

Jamie.


Ok?! Rather exquisite I say (uh-oh I'm entering into a simpering mode!). I look forward to further discussion - but first - a pint beckons (as I mention elsewhere).

Best etc.
Pinky

 
Pinky
11760.  Thu Dec 02, 2004 3:44 pm Reply with quote

Gray

Marvellous! I will devour those links with a renewed appetite following a beverage, a healthy pause, a sleep, a day of intellectual vigour at university, followed by another hopefully rejeuvenating sleep, an afternoon of decorating the downstairs neighbours slightly damaged ceiling (oops), an evening with friends enjoying curry, more sleep, and some healthy martial arts practise the following afternoon, topped off by (gasp) an internet roleplaying game the same evening. Or Monday, as some refer to it.

Ta, Pinky

 
jme:)
11763.  Thu Dec 02, 2004 4:23 pm Reply with quote

At this time i think it is possible to say where i am coming from.

This is hard. Excuse me if i make any errors.

Okay. We are born. We each have a brain (be it seperate, linked (or both AT THE SAME TIME!) or the same as a mind-fascinating in itself). Straight away we are born into culture. Do we have any originality-yes I believe we do.

We all have common sharings of things-its defined by our senses. What we all also have is difference. Society is a strange thing that meshes these differences and things that we all have common to us (e.g. sight is probably very similar for all of us). So we have senses that can be defined...physics does this easily by calling blue blue..(there are different shades but this starts to confuse the argument).

Now what we all have that makes us different is how these bodies of senses (that is what i shall cal lthem anyway) interact. It is this + chemicals etc. if you want to be clinical that defines us as seperate from those others. We cannot, or i think we can't, understand these because they do not hold independent of one another when they interact. It is this which defines our imagination.

Indeed, we are all very confused individuals. The key is to find what is real from what is not.You can only understand what i am saying by making it real to your own imagination. Understanding is passed on through literature by tring to find some reference to which one can attatch a part of one individuals imagination to another. This is my problem for example...often I find it hard to comprehend what people are saying to me.

I am not going to say everything is real to whatever that person believes because of this thing called time. If time is a great healer then it heals our ignorance. I may not believe in karma for example but if i were to experience it and others gave me the same communication of their feelings, if they matched closely to my own, then i would believe in karma...but not in an absolute sense because probably it still has some slightly different meaning for each person.

All These, i hope, represent 'common experiences'

In isolation, as you say, quoted slightly out of context, blue is indeed blue, black is black. But because there are so many forms of imagination...i.e. little discrepencies between what people communicate between one another, then our 'gauging rod ' is really just ourselves., ourselves changing through time, a cyclical problem.

To summarise...we can reduce (reductionalism) things only in isolation that are more definitive...electrical systems work.

More subjective facets however mix with these, fun is a combination of too many facets....ask a scientist to define it clinically and let them ignore it or waffle about something. Truth is the variance of the concept is so great it doesn't really exist adefinitively...i guess this is what i was getting at when arguing information can exist seperate from reality vs. an extension of reality .

That will do for now.

Jamie.

 
Pinky
11790.  Fri Dec 03, 2004 1:33 pm Reply with quote

jme:) wrote:
At this time i think it is possible to say where i am coming from.


Hi Jamie,

I shall get back to you on your post when I have time (aha!) to devote my undivided attention to it (translation - this warrants a good hard think and I'm not going to do it any justice by banging off a witty reply in 20 minutes!).

At first blush it looks very thought provoking, hence my willingness to devote time, space and probably about 500 cigarettes and numerous parts of my respiratory system to digesting it.

Catch you later,

Pinky.

 
raindancer
11818.  Sat Dec 04, 2004 10:15 am Reply with quote

Is this a third kind or does it fit into one of the two kinds above?

This is knowledge gained from experience.

Dualism is a position on the nature of mind-body (and reality of course) that holds them apart as two different kinds of stuff.

I've never held with this. There's energy and matter. Matter itself is energy, so there's only one kind of stuff!

'you cannot teach people knowledge..you can only help them find it within them'

Absolutely. Even then, it depends on them.

reality is either really out there

No, it's not 'out there'. Reality 's everything that exists, inwardly and outwardly - not that there's any dividing line. It's all one thing.

I cannot 'acknowledge' or 'register' information *as* information (possibly in a utilitarian sense) without having some kind of referential or representing relationship with the extended object in reality

Quite. In the world of reality, everything is related to everything else.

Do we have any originality?

What? (I'm not saying we don't).

Our mental capacities restrict us to knowing so little.

Quite. WHY?


Indeed, we are all very confused individuals. The key is to find what is real from what is not.

Hooray! I think this is the whole point of it all.

 

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