Re: What does the mind/brain know?

From: William Benzon (
Date: Wed 12 Mar 2003 - 22:58:56 GMT

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    on 3/12/03 4:49 PM, Grant Callaghan at wrote:

    > Walter J Freeman


    If you are suggesting that Freeman knows things that memetics needs to know, I certainly agree. But it would be difficult to use his work to support the ideas that memes reside in brains and that communication between people involves transfer of information from one person to another. Freeman rejects the computer analogy as a valid approach to understanding brain function and rejects the notion that we can think of the brain as processing information. In his view, brains create meaning, and they do so out of their own self-organizing capacity.

    Bill B

    William L. Benzon
    708 Jersey Avenue, Apt. 2A
    Jersey City, NJ 07302
    201 217-1010
    "You won't get a wild heroic ride to heaven on pretty little
    sounds."--George Ives
    * * * * * * *
    A neurobiological interpretation of semiotics:
    meaning, representation, and information
    Information Sciences 124: 93-102, 2000.
    Walter J Freeman
    The branch of semiotics called semantics deals with the relation between
    meanings and representations, widely known as the symbol grounding problem.
    The other branches of semiotics, syntactics which deals with symbol-symbol
    relations as in a dictionary, and pragmatics which deals with symbol-action
    paradigms as in traffic signs, are well done by computers, but semantics has
    eluded computer simulation. In my view, this is because computer programmers
    have neglected that aspect of Shannon's definition by which information has
    no meaning; computers process information, whereas brains create meaning.
    Brains obtain information about the world through the consequences of their
    own embodied actions. The information thus obtained is used in constructing
    meaning and is then discarded. One kind of information in the world consists
    of representations made by other brains for social communication. Computers
    use representations for information processing and symbol manipulation.
    However, brains have no internal representations. They deploy dynamic neural
    operators in the form of activity patterns, which constitute and implement
    meaning but not information, so that the problem of symbol grounding does
    not arise. Brains construct external representations in the form of material
    objects or movements as their means for expressing their internal states of
    meaning, such as words, books, paintings, and music, as well as facial
    expressions and gestures in animals and humans, but even though those
    material objects are made with the intent to elicit meaning in other brains,
    they have no meanings in themselves and do not carry meanings as if they
    were buckets or placards. Meanings can only exist in brains, because each
    meaning expresses the entire history and experience of an individual. It is
    an activity pattern that occupies the entire available brain, constituting a
    location in the intentional structure of a brain. It is the limited sharing
    of meanings between brains for social purposes that requires reciprocal
    exchanges of representations, each presentation by a transmitting brain
    inducing the construction of new meaning in the receiving brain. EEG data
    indicate that neural patterns of meanings in each brain occur in
    trajectories of discrete steps, which are demarcated by first order state
    transitions that enable formation of spatiotemporal patterns of spatially
    coherent oscillations. Amplitude modulation is the mode of expressing
    meanings. These wave packets do not represent external objects; they embody
    and implement the meanings of objects for each individual, in terms of what
    they portend for the future of that individual, and what that individual
    should do with and about them.
    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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