Re: data, information and knowledge

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Wed 01 Jun 2005 - 03:12:11 GMT

  • Next message: Dace: "Re: A review of "The Selfish Meme""

    --- Dace <> wrote:

    > Scott,
    > > - --- Robin Faichney <> wrote:
    > >
    > > > Hi Scott, not sure about your concept of
    > > > "infocentrism", because,
    > > > though I absolutely agree that context is very
    > often
    > > > neglected, it too
    > > > can be understood in terms of information: it
    > can be
    > > > considered the
    > > > key that decodes the "central" information, be
    > that
    > > > DNA or whatever.
    > > > For instance, Wittgenstein's "language game" is
    > the
    > > > key that unlocks
    > > > the meaning of any utterance.
    > > >
    > > > I have my own take on information, discussed
    > here
    > > > way back but not
    > > > recently. I'll restrain myself to mentioning the
    > > > website for now:
    > > >, where mmmi stands for mind,
    > matter,
    > > > meaning and
    > > > information.
    > > >
    > > Wow! Haven't seen you post here in a LONG time.
    > > Welcome back.
    > >
    > > Though I see reduction as helpful, it can be taken
    > too
    > > far. In the argument of mind and brain I'm a
    > hardcore
    > > mindbrain monist after Paatricia Chruchland, so I
    > can
    > > be considered a hardcore reductionist when it
    > comes to
    > > the topic of mindbrain. I've no truck with dualism
    > and
    > > have decided, after reading Churchland, that
    > Popper's
    > > three world plurality is probably a dead end too.
    > Patricia Churchland may think she's a monist, but
    > she's not. Reductionism
    > was devised by Descartes and, not surprisingly, is
    > inherently dualistic.
    > It's not just the parts that a machine (or a brain)
    > is reduced to; it's the
    > laws of physics that govern those parts. Unlike
    > many current philosophers,
    > Descartes was smart enough to realize that
    > consciousness can't simply be
    > eliminated. If we claim it's an illusion, then
    > we're faced with the
    > insoluble conundrum of what, precisely, is
    > experiencing this illusion. Why,
    > consciousness, of course! So Descartes was a
    > dualist, and his
    > reductionistic methodology was perfectly in keeping
    > with that dualism. Yes,
    > we reduce the object to its parts and those parts to
    > their parts and so on,
    > but at every stage, the universal laws of physics
    > that govern those parts
    > are just as important as the parts themselves.
    > Following the terminology
    > coined by cell biologist Stephen Rothman, the
    > "microreductionism" to the
    > parts is always accompanied by the
    > "macroreductionism" to the physics of the
    > parts.
    > A truly monistic conception of the mind-brain means
    > recognizing right off
    > the bat that there's no stand-alone "mind" to reduce
    > to brain (and brain to
    > neuron, etc.) any more than there's a stand-alone
    > "brain" to reduce to mind.
    The brain is more tangible than the "mind". We could more easily rid ourselves of the concept of mind. At the anatomical level, what we see as a human brain easily reduces to a cortex and other components which reduce to neurons (and helpful glia). A significant part of the neuron is the axon which can make connection to a soma, dedrite or another axon and help form a synapse. It's here that we can look at electrophysiology and the molecular aspects of neural function (or brain function in humans). This is all pretty basic stuff.
    > A brain is not like a human artifact. A car, for
    > instance, is manufactured
    > through external forces and exists whether or not
    > anyone's inside it driving
    > around. But a brain is not manufactured and does
    > not come into being except
    > in the context of mind.
    A brain develops from a portion of the neural tube and is the product of evolution from simpler antecedents. An external "force" called seection played a role in the evolution of varied brains across organisms or nervous sytems in organisms without brains. Being itself a product (or epiphenomenon) of neural function, the so-called "mind" followed suit. If it weren't for neurons, there wouldn't be a "mind" to speak of, but neurons could exist without need of a mind. Less complex nervous systems than ours exist, much less complex, and it's a matter of semantics whether we choose to attribute a mind to simper organisms. It's pretty straightforward whether they have neurons.

    Sad to say, but a brain still exists (though somewhat dysfunctionally) when someone has lost their mind. Deterioration, damage or chemical disruption of a brain results in "mental" deficits. That's a pretty straightforward way of looking at which way the arrows point.
    > Mind and brain are one and the same, and the reason
    > it appears as two has
    > nothing to do with its instrinsic nature but simply
    > the way we perceive it.
    I've no patience for psychophysical parallelism, substance dualism nor any of the other weak-kneed detritus of philosophical history. It's a big yawn for me. Neurons are real. They're tangible. They have interesting ways of making connections and "talking" to each other.
    > Because mind-brain is essential to what we are, we
    > can perceive it from
    > within, i.e. as mind, but like anything else, we can
    > also approach it from
    > the external point of view, i.e. brain.
    Wasn't it an accident of history that mentalism preceded neuroscience? The latter is merely casting off the excess baggage of the former. Churchland, in her _Neurophilosophy_ talked about a co-evolution of sorts between psychology and neuroscience. But if psychology is saying stuff that just isn't compatible with neuroscience, it's a problem for psychology, not neuroscience, to worry about. Same with mentalist philosophy (didn't Dennett refer to a "mind-first" notion in _DDI_). If it's rotting toss it out.
    > Since memes
    > are an aspect of our
    > internal existence, to say that memes exist in
    > brains is to reduce oneself
    > to babbling incoherence.
    We're running the risk of confusing two issues here, the issue of the internal versus external locus of memes and the separate issue of relation between mind and brain.
    >The statement literally
    > has no meaning. Memes
    > exist in minds, not brains, because "mind" is our
    > word for mind-brain when
    > we're coming at it from the internal point of view.
    The mind is what we call what the brain does. If memes depend upon minds (or if they have their existence rooted in mental function, though are externally efficacious) all this means is that they have some correspondence, though not 1:1 to neural states. Minds arise either functionally or epiphenomenally from neural states. If the internalists were right about the locus of memes being in the neural states themselves (neuromemes) we would say that memes exist in the brain, which isn't any different than saying they exist in the mind, since the two are basically one in the same.

    The locus of memes, if they exist, inside or outside is open for debate. The relation between mind and brain isn't. It's mind-brain to me. That's the most fruitful philosophical stance and that's all it is. The brain (or more specifically its neurons) has
    (have) the upper hand.
    > To say that mind is the flipside of brain is simply
    > to say that brains exist
    > intrinsically. Unlike a car, which only has
    > ordinary existence, a brain has
    > self-existence. This is why "the self" keeps
    > popping up in studies of life
    > and culture. It's not just some meme conjured up
    > from the folds of the
    > cerebrum (a nonsensical notion on the face of it)
    > but the intrinsic reality
    > of that cerebrum.
    Yet Joseph LeDoux is content on focusing upon the synaptic aspects of the self. That sounds like a pretty fruitful approach to me.

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