Monday, June 30, 2008

I am reality pondering reality

Philosophical thought experiments like the Chinese Room can lead to an unnerving conclusion. These experiments argue that an indispensable ingredient of human-like consciousness is semantics. Human thought uses "high-fidelity" representations of reality, not merely symbols. And a mind switches between "raw" (though still contextualized) data and symbols as necessary...while talking, for instance. Being minds, this is natural to us.

If an essential trait of genuine thinking is the affinity of thoughts to reality, then clearly the very capability to think is deeply influenced--informed--by someone's experiences. And if experiences inhabit a strong role as the substances of thoughts, then what the mind does is intimately tied to how reality impinges on it. Thus, whenever a mind thinks, one simplified interpretation is that reality is doing a computation on itself. An analogy is two parts of reality finding each other. Reality co-wrote the concept of tabula rasa.

An alternative statement is that sensations mold neurons but those same neurons perhaps significantly influence future thoughts. This is consistent with the research that has confirmed the benefit of deep and varied education, in the broadest sense, on effective mental function.

No comments:

Post a Comment