Inter-subjectivity in 3 pictures

I’m having hard-time understanding transcendental inter-subjectivity. I take it for granted that the phenomena/noumena distinction is unreasonable, mostly on the base that if everything that we think of (that can be given to us) must be given through receptivity (hence through phenomenal a priori forms of space and time), and further understood by concepts which fall under phenomenal a priori categories, the noumena becomes empty word, something that doesn’t refer to anything. And of course if there is no noumena, there is not mush sense to have any distinction of noumena/phenomena, neither to have concept of phenomena if its value is to be just what it is against the noumena.

So in yet another attempt to understand it, I invited two models to my studio… Meet Madison and Abigail.

Madison is to the left. She likes drawing, has green dress and red hair; Abigail is to the right, she likes playing a piano, has blue dress and blond hair.

In the Kantian picture, when those two models look at each other (as they do in the above picture), there are in fact two minds with their own and separate from each others phenomenal worlds.

Picture 1:
Madison looks at Abigail in the toy-world              
Picture 2:
Abigail looks at Madison in the toy-world

In this kind of view, everything is duplicated… There is one table in the phenomenal world of Madison, and one separate table in the phenomenal world of Abigail. There is one Madison (self) in the phenomenal world of Madison, and yet another separate Madison in the phenomenal world of Abigail.

But neither Madison, nor Abigail (nor me looking at them) experience the world in such way. In fact, they have experience of being in the same world with each-other. When Madison looks at Abigail, it is THAT Abigail within her experience, that is looking back to her. But in Kantian picture, that isn’t so, in fact Abigail has separate phenomenal world, and she is looking just at Madison.
So, the world as it is given to us, and on which we build our language and semantics, does not agree with Kantian theory. To accept that theory we must throw away the world as it is given in our experience, but if we throw away that, there is nothing left that Kantian theory is supposed to explain. Further then that this kind of Kantian picture goes against the arguments as the one given here and here.

So this transcendental inter-subjectivity, this being in the world with others, seems to be reasonable ground for our experiences, and indeed unavoidable one. But then… don’t we loose the fabulous explanations from Kant for our intuitive knowledge, don’t we loose the ground for approaching the reality with our reason?

Unit tests in philosophy?

In software engineering, in the last decade or so, there is rising acceptance of unit tests, a testing code that is written by programmers before the actual code of the program is written. This testing code calls the not-yet-written code of the program, and checks if it functions as predicted in specific cases. For example if we are to test adding code, the testing code will call the adding code with parameters 2 and 3, and check if this code returns 5. Then, it can for example test with negative parameters, first parameter negative second positive, etc…

Good things about those tests is that

  1. You can quickly find out if you have finished implementing code for satisfying all of the test cases that are thought as sufficient.
  2. You will be notified if, by doing some changes later in order to satisfy some new requirements, you break some previous functionality.

Now, I thought of this in connection to the wealth of arguments in philosophy, and wealth of thought experiments. In developing new theories, older theories are changed so some of the problems are fixed or avoided, but it is easy to forget some motivations for the old theory, some use-cases which were good in the old theory, but which are broken in the new one. It would be great, if theories and tests can be formalized enough to make it possible for a some kind of repository to be created, against which theories would need to be tested…

Every new theory would be given result, e.g. satisfies  tests  1, 5, 6 and 7, but fails 2 and 4. And there are discussions if it satisfies 3.

I hope this doesn’t look too much as logical positivism.

What do invisible people do?

Can Internet be compared to Ring of Gyges, that was mentioned in Plato’s Republic (Book II)?
The legend goes, says Glaucion in Republic, that Gyges was shepherd, who found ring which made him invisible. He used it to seduce the queen, and then conspired against the king, slew him and took the kingdom. Glaucion argues that no man, given such power of invisibility, can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. And if someone stood fast, he would be thought by the lookers-on to be a most wretched idiot, although they would praise him to one another’s faces, and keep up appearances with one another from a fear that they too might suffer injustice.

While not giving that kind of power, Internet provides invisibility of browsing Internet content and allows people to take alter-identities free from social constrains in internet chat rooms. And what lot of people do given this invisibility cloak?

I think one can get a nice picture of that, reading about researches of search words on web search engines.

The post at Google Watch says:

Nearly one in five of Google wireless searches are for words associated with adult entertainment, according to a study of a million Google mobile phone queries.

The text also says, that this rate is twice of what Google encounters from its regular web users, so that would mean that 10% of searches are connected to porn, and that this is lower number then in the past.

When mass market U.S. cell phones began accessing the Internet in the mid-1990s, the predominant thing people did was search for pornography.

Which brings us to the second question:Is invisibility cloak “tempting” just at first, and that then the morality of the people prevail? Does this data shows that?

When I mentioned to a friend, as a interesting thing, that reports show that searches for porn related words were going down on Internet, he said – “Of course, people go directly to porn sites now”. And, his intuition seems to hit the spot, because after searching on net, I found article from March this year on USA Today saying:

Online porn sites get about three times more visits than the top Web search engines, including market leader Google, a research firm said Thursday.

Those numbers are very bad, and seems that Glaucion was partly right – (lot of) people are too weak to struggle against the temptations. And I guess, that’s why the prayer goes: Lead us not into temptation. But the invisibility cloak seems to be here. I don’t like this situation, temptations being pushed under people noses, but is there something we can do?

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Husserl and Husserliana

In some future post I will give several quotes from the Dan Zahavi’s book – Husserl’s Phenomenology, which connect to things I have said (some inspired by Husserl through that book).  In that book Dan often gives references to Husserliana, so I thought I should say some things I learned about it.

Husserliana is a collection of books that are being published posthumously, based on 40,000 pages of manuscripts that Husserl left behind him (he died in 1938). Thirty-eight volumes have been published so far. Only a part of them are translated and published in English, seems that the last one is volume 12, published one month ago.  (on the bad side prices of the works are pretty high, and with some of the hardcover editions with costs around 400$, I surely will consult a secondary literature for some time, or will try to figure out things by myself :) )

husserliana explains this big amount of writings left behind by Husserl in this way:

Husserl was known, especially later in life, to rely on assistants to organize his “daily meditations,” which he would throw haphazardly to his left and right. These would be gathered up, collated, and placed in binders for his later re-inspection and revision.

This brings to my mind picture of the Jeremy Brett, playing Sherlock Holmes in the TV series, throwing the pieces of papers around,  and then I think of how Husserl could nicely use Sherlock Holmes in his examples of the intentionality towards non-existing objects and things. Anyway…

The manuscripts, those 40,000 pages were not safe in Germany, where because being Jewish Husserl was eliminated from the list of university professors, denied access to library (Heidegger, his former student, seems to have his part in this), and in general was more and more isolated in the last five years of his life.
Luckily for us, a Franciscan – Herman Leo Van Breda smuggled the manuscripts to Belgium, where first Husserl archive was founded, and the work on Husserliana has started.

By some coincidence, three days from now, on 27th of April, it will be exactly 68 years from Husserl’s death. So, I guess, this post can be small tribute to this big philosopher.


“Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Thomas Kuhn

In an interesting and easy to read book, Kuhn brings before us picture of development of science based on a concept of paradigm. Paradigm is referring to commonly accepted things by a (specific) scientific community – things like theories, concepts, interpretations of measurements within those theories (or facts in particular paradigm). “Specific” there means that the science is not a whole, but different sciences (like physics, chemistry, biology etc..) have their own paradigms, and that even within one such “big” science, there are lot of sub-fields which have their own sub-paradigms. Those things are accepted in a community as a foundation on which science can advance in little steps, by process that Kuhn names puzzle solving. Such processes are named normal science.
But from time to time, the accepted paradigms get into an obvious inconsistencies, as the facts interpreted as they are in the particular paradigm, go against the theories in the paradigm – there is anomaly. This results with a crisis in the science, which results with search for new paradigms, and eventually replacing of the paradigm, leading back to normal science.

This is the story in short, and while it might be interesting put in few words, it is even more interesting when through Kuhn’s work you get to see each of the phases come to life before you, through big number of examples and anecdotes, particularly colorful when he talks about the state of crisis.

All in all, very exciting read, and for me probably one of the most important philosophy works. Because while it might have been conceived by Kuhn to be philosophy of science, it is more then that… certainly for those who think that the concept of paradigms can be used to tackle more general problems in epistemology.

I guess that most of the readers of this blog already know what Kuhn’s work is about. But I felt I need to have one post for the word (paradigm) I’m likely to use in considerable amount in some of the next posts. So, this post can serve as a short explanation, and reference to the book for those who are not familiar with this concept.

You can also check The Philosophers’ Magazine for synopsis of this Kuhn’s book. (copy)

Kant’s weird thoughts

Ok, while I was thinking here with my nose on the window, my wife has been practical and made tea for both of us (but not for you, she doesn’t know about you). That will probably help. I have no time for getting out of my pajamas (getting dressed is boring too), I just join my wife in the kitchen.

Now, there is an idea appearing, maybe I got the whole thing wrong, maybe there is no noumena/phenomena distinction. It would be nice if I can find error in my thinking there. Really it would be nice because I will be back to my simple being in room, my room in the house, the house in the world, outside snowing, and sharing the same world with
that guy I saw on the street and with one billion others. I can’t accept this as true now, when all I have is the possibility that I’m in the phenomenal (not real) world and all that is part of some noumenal (real) mind. Or can I accept it? Maybe I can reach and hold the hand of my wife, or image-hold the image-hand of my image-wife. Who cares if she is noumenal or phenomenal? The noumenal-one will think that the noumenal-me holds her hand. But then, it would be the real me, it is my wanting to hold her hand that caused it all. So, for a moment, it seems that at least I can kind of, hold hands with my wife while I drink tea, and think of those issues.

Of course, if my wife exists at all that is. Maybe it is just a figment of my imagination.

Didn’t I dream this same dream last night?

Note: As you know, Kant didn’t have wife. This is just an imaginary dream. (As if being dream, or being imaginary is not unreal enough)

Mont Blanc is too high to fit in my head!

In the previous post – Conversations (and before that What “meaning” means?), I sketched simple account of “meaning”

  • Meaning is connection between signs and signified.
  • Both are things which are accessible to people involved in communications. Sign is something which is produced by the speaker, and listener becomes aware of it. Signified is some other thing, of which both speaker and listener can think of.
  • The signified (e.g. what words mean) is not in the head, as that would negate the possibility of two people to think of, and hence speak of the same thing, hence negate possibility of communication.
  • Arguing with the previous point is not possible (because it would negate possibility of communication)!

In the end, I noted that it is separate question of what things we can think of, and hence of what thing we can speak of.

However before doing that, I want to note one other important issue here, and to prevent one misunderstanding.

As words “tree” and “Baum” both mean tree in two languages, so can two sentences in different languages to have same meaning. The meanings of sentences are called propositions.  A common mistake that can be made is to equate  propositions as some kind of mental structures or thoughts, which are constituted (created) by the meanings of the words in the sentence. Connecting this kind of assumption with what I’ve said, it would appear that I’m saying that the things themselves are in our heads. And everyone would be right to tell me, as Frege noted to Russell, that the Mont Blanc can’t be itself part of the thought “Mont Blanc is 4,000 meters high“.

But this kind of non-sense result comes about, if we are ignoring one part of what was discussed about meaning – for there to be meaning, we need a person who will upon hearing the sign (word) , think of something else (Mont Blanc).
So, the thought here is not constituted or constructed of the things of which we think of, but the thinking of IS the thought. And as it was pointed here, this “power of minds”, the intentionality is what transcends the subjective, and also makes the relation of meaning possible.

Or said in another way – there isn’t some mental construction in my head, which contains Mont Blanc. My thought is about Mont Blanc, and it is a thought that Mont Blanc (itself of course) is 4,000 meters high.

Note 1:Wikipedia says it is 4,810 meters high. Which makes my argument wrong. Just kidding.


-I don’t accept communication

That’s one of the things that, my friend John Valley (JohnGuru) has taught me, can help you in philosophical arguments. The two others are:

  • Don’t ask people what they mean. Instead tell them what they mean.
  • If those two fail, stop talking and wait. Many times is easier to argue to someone, after he/she leaves.

Of course these three rules are jokes (I’m not sure if jokes are allowed in philosophy, but I’ll take my chance).
But I would like to raise seriously the question, of what one must accept in order for communication to be possible. This is not about principles of good communication, but about possibility of communication in general.

1. Meaning
In previous post, I argued that there is no such thing as realm of meanings, or that there is no such thing as meanings qua meanings. I was saying that meaning is relation between two things, in Sassurian terms – the signifier and signified. And neither has some special property outside of that relation which makes them meanings. Word as spoken or as writen can be sign, but also it can be signified, I can say
If I raise my right hand that will mean “tree”, and if I raise my left hand that will mean “Baum”.
Both those are words that mean tree, one in English, and the other in German. But in that sentence the words themselves are meant by given signs. So, the central question is not “what are meanings?”, as if those are some special things, but “what is the relation of meaning?”

2.Where does the relation of meaning exists?
Where is the root of the relation between the signs (e.g. words, sentences), and signified (what those words, sentences mean)?
Well think about this… when you hear some words,  but you are not sure what they mean, who do you ask?
Of course you don’t tell people that speak to you what they mean by the sentences they pronounce, but you ask them What do you mean?
So, the intended meaning is in the subject who pronounces the words and sentences, who gives the signs which should mean something else. So, orginal relation between the sign and the signifed exist in the speaker. For example, he might say words “Bill Gates”, and talk about Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft.

3.When is the communication possible?
It is possible if the “listener” can become aware of the sign that “speaker” has produced, and if he can figure out what that sign should mean. For example, if one hears the word “Bill Gates” and the listener understands that word to mean Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, and the speaker indeed intended to mean Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, , the communication would be succesfull.

But there is neat trick going in the background. For this is to be possible, both persons must be able to think of same person Bill Gates, or in general for a communication to be possible, two people must be able to think of the same things which are meant by the words, or by the sentences.
But if two people can think about the same thing (which makes it further possible to talk about same thing), that means that the thing about which we think, is not some kind of representation in our brains/heads. Thinking and talking about things in that way transcends subjectivity.

Before you object to this conclusion, remind yourself that if you don’t agree  with this conclusion, you won’t be objecting the same conclusion that is presented there, as you would be saying that it isn’t possible that we are talking about same thing, nor that we are arguing arround same conclusion. You must say that you don’t accept communication.

Note 1:There are lot of question which are left open here… What are all those things of which we can think of? It is not just existing things about which we can think and talk about, it is imaginary things, and things which were in the past, or which are yet to come. Those are abstractions too. What does it mean for those not to be subjective? Those will be probably subject of further posts.

Qualia or Given

Qualia and Given. Those are two words I’ve used in the posts so far, to refer to the same thing. Something which was distinguished vs. abstract. However because both words have history of philosophical usage, I will try to explain on example what I mean by them in order to avoid misunderstandings.

two greens

Look at this picture. Both circles have green color, but the colors are not same. Why is that? Because “being colors“, and “being green“… the two abstractions that can cover one part of what we see on the picture, merely determine each of colors of the circles as abstractions from the whole situation. But we don’t see the abstracts qua abstracts, nor is the situation some configuration of abstracts – we see the concrete which is determined as abstract.
First we have as concrete which is given the whole situation, then we can abstract each of the circles, and we can abstract the color of each of the circles, and we determine it as abstract green.

That’s why it is possible two greens to be different, even the two colors are covered by same abstract, they are not in our perceptions qua abstractions.

We don’t look at the one color, and put it under an abstract, and then look at the other and put it under other abstract, and then somehow mechanically compare if the both colors are the same abstract. That is something that color expert might do. He can look at the upper circle and say it is scarab green, and then look at the bottom circle, and say it is spring green. The expert who can do that, who has more precise abstractions which cover only one type of green but not other, can do that even if the colors are not close to one another. He might look at one of the circles today, and look at the other one tommorow, and conclude that they were not the same color.

But to non-expert who doesn’t have those precise abstractions the difference appears in the concreteness of the given.

Of course one needs to focus on the issue if the colors are same. For example, one might fail to put his attention to the difference, he might not notice that two greens are different. But that wouldn’t mean that there is no given there, it would be same starting given, but on which different abstractions are done. If he would’ve used same abstractions, he would’ve been given same resulting givens.

The result of one abstraction as given, should not to be taken as some kind of part of the experience in such way that one could create the whole experience from those parts.

Why a neural network can’t be conscious (2)

Shorter, and hopefully more cleaner and better argument is given in more recent posts:Can we digitize the brain and retain consciousness and Consciousness and Special Relativity

Few posts ago, I gave a record/reply thought experiment (I included it in this post also), which I think shows that specific kind of neural networks can’t be conscious. After talking to a friend ,she told me that it seems to her that my argument is very similar (if not the same) with The Story of a Brain by A. Zuboff. I will first compare the two arguments, and after that try to give additional explanation, and possible variations of my argument against possibility of (certain kind of) artificial neural networks to be conscious.

The Story of a Brain

A man’s brain is put in nutrient bath. By stimulating the sensory inputs to the brain scientists are able to create corresponding conscious experiences. But, at some point there is an accident and the brain is split into its two hemispheres. First instead of original connections, the hemispheres are connected by wires, then by radio transmitters and receivers. After some time new method is used, impulse cartridges are connected to each of the hemispheres, which compute the signals that would have been produced by the other hemisphere. In this way each hemisphere gets exactly the signals it would get, even though it is no longer communicating with the other side. In the story then, the brain is separated into more and more parts, and finally we have each neuron connected to its own impulse cartridge.

There is more to the story, but I told just the part which is similar. The Record/Replay argument on other hand was following:

Record/Replay Argument

Let’s say that the system is composed of “digital” neurons, where each of them is connected to other neurons. Each of the neurons have inputs and outputs. The outputs of each neuron are connected to inputs of other neurons, or go outside of the neural network. Additionally some neurons have inputs that come from outside of the neural network.
Let’s suppose additionally this system is conscious certain amount of time (e.g. two minutes), so we will do reductio ad absurdum later. We are measuring each neuron activity (inputs and output signals of the neuron) for those two minutes in which the system is conscious (maybe we ask it if it is conscious, it does some introspection, and answers that it is). We store those inputs and outputs as functions of time. After we got that all, we have enough information to replay what was happening in the neural network by:

* Resetting each neuron internal state to the starting state, and replaying the inputs which come from outside of the neural net, and first inputs which come from inside of neural net (starting state). As the function is deterministic, everything will come out again as it was the first time. Would this system be conscious?
* Reset each neuron internal state to starting state, then disconnect!! all the neurons between each other, and replay the saved inputs to each of them. Each of the neurons would calculate the outputs it did, but as nobody would “read them”, they would serve no function in the functioning of the system, actually they wouldn’t matter! Would this system be conscious too?

* Shut down the calculations in each neuron (as they are not important as seen is second scenario – because the outputs of each neuron are also not important for functioning of the system while the replay). We would give the inputs to each of the “dead” neurons (and probably we would wonder what we are doing). Would this system be conscious?

* As the input we would be giving to each of the neurons actually doesn’t matter, we would just shut down the whole neural net, and read the numbers aloud. Would this system be conscious? Which system?

In which step did the assumed system changed from conscious to unconscious? Or maybe such system can’t be conscious in first place? In this post I have added one alternative of this argument, which might even more intuitively show that there is problem with the idea that such artificial neural network can be conscious, as through similar steps we change it to a system which is impossible to be conscious, and yet it is impossible to say that in some of the steps something which might be important for the consciousness is lost. But first let me point to the differences between Story of a Brain and the Record/Replay argument…


 So, it seems to me that there are those important differences:

  1. The story of a brain is story of a brain, the Record/Replay argument is a story of artificial neural network.
    • The brain in the story is evolving brain, which in a way continues with its life, the artificial neural network is such that its internal state can be reset to the starting state.
    • The artificial neural network is in principle divisible to its neurons (or at least it can be said that Record/Replay argument holds just for those kind of artificial neural networks). We don’t know if that holds for the human brain.
  2. In The story of a brain the signals to be sent are computed. In the Record/Replay story there is no computation – merely a replaying.

Isn’t Record/Replay argument saying that our brains can’t be conscious?

My friend brought different line of attack to the Record/Replay argument. She said that

  • our brain is neural network (I will mark this proposition as A)
  • and our brain is conscious (B), hence it can’t be true that
  • Record/Replay argument shows that neural network can’t be conscious (C)

But, this is slightly problematic reasoning – in order from assumptions A and B to follow that C is wrong, we don’t need to assume A, but more precise proposition, namely that brain is such neural network that the scenario in Record/Replay argument can be applied to it, and this assumes more things, like possibility for dividing, possibility for reseting internal states, and so on.
So, instead of A, we should talk about the proposition A2 – that our brain is such and such neural network which makes it possible for Record/Replay scenario to be applied to it. This is surely not an obvious fact (as A), so I don’t think that A2 and B can be used as facts to attack C. (what A2 would mean I analyzed in the paper Replay argument, given on the papers page on this weblog)

Alternative Scenario: Replay Neurons Scenario

While talking yesterday, I figured out that the Record/Replay scenario can be little modified thus. (I will call this Replay neurons scenario)

  1. We record internal signals of the artificial neural network which we assume is conscious for certain time
  2. We construct replay neuron clones, which when started fire the exact same outputs as the original neurons did, in same timely manner.
  3. We change one of the original neurons with a replay neuron, reset the other original neurons, and replay the inputs to the network, starting the replay neuron so that it acts as the original would have acted.
  4. We repeat (3) by changing more and more original neurons with replay neurons.

The issue is now this. After some time we end up with a system composed of replay neurons. Surely we won’t argue that this system is conscious. So if we assume that it is possible for the artificial neural network to be conscious, we need to specify where in the course of changing original neurons with replay neurons, the system became unconscious.

Now by changing the Replay/Record scenario this way, it is not so similar to Zuboff’s story, but is much more like the Searle’ story that I wrote about in a previous post. To remind you in that scenario the neurons in person’s brain are one by one changed with artificial neurons.
And now the same question will appear as in Searle’ book… the system will function as it did (through all replay sessions), but what will happen with the consciousness. Will there be there less and less consciousness, as we put more and more replay neurons? It seems to me as the only plausible answer for those who think that the original neural network can be conscious, as it is obvious, I think that we end up with something that can’t be conscious, and I don’t think anyone would say that after changing number of neurons, the consciousness is suddenly cut off.

Let me discuss now the only place where someone might argue that consciousness is lost in the Replay neurons scenario. The argument would go like this:
The original neurons are such that their inputs are causally effective, the inputs affect some processes in the neurons which then result with certain outputs, which in turn are causally effective towards the happenings in other neurons and so on. The replay neurons on the other hand are such that they ignore any input signals that come to them, and just post output signals in timely manner (as programmed).

Which brings us to new scenario…
Before getting into it, let me repeat the fact assumed is that we know what kind of input signals, and in what kind of timely manner each neuron gets, and what kind of outputs it produces.
So now instead of making a simple replay neuron, we can create more complex replay neuron in following way: Instead of simply just reproducing the outputs in timely manner, because we know what kind of inputs we will get we create this kind of list in the replay neuron… wait for input signal A1, and after given X1 time, send the output signal B1. Then wait for other input signal A1, and so on and so on. Now, the replay neurons are causally effective, their outputs are important for how the connected replay neurons will work. But does it mean that the “neural net” created of those kind of replay neurons will be conscious?
I take that the answer is no.
But what went wrong here. If in the original Replay neurons argument, we can say that because the parts are not causally effective, we have lost the system, and without system we can’t talk about conscious system… we have now parts which are causally effective to each other. (This part reminds me to Block’s argument in Psychologism and Behaviorism, just that there the system didn’t know what kind of questions will expect trough the time. We here have situation that we know exactly what kind of inputs and outputs we had in the original system).
Now, we can work towards more complex replay neurons. We can, for example, having the timely outputs and inputs and using mathematical methods for compression, develop algorithms in each replay neuron which will generate the outputs not by just looking into the list, but through some more complex mathematical formula, including some internal state. (What makes the situation more interesting is that artificial neural networks are usually trained by giving them certain inputs, and the wanted outputs are used to fix different internal variables of the network).
Maybe in this process we will get to the computation that was implemented in the original neuron, maybe not. However, it seems clear that just causal connection between the individual neurons is not enough, we will need to argue that what is important is that the physical system implements certain computation too, and not any computation that would do for practical purposes! See Chalmers’ paper on what does it mean for physical system to implement given computation.
But why would a consciousness appear if this specific computation is implemented, and not the other one? Would this mean that we can never know if we got the computation algorithm right, that we choose the wrong one which don’t produce consciousness?

For analysis of how this argument can be related to the connection of brain and consciousness, you can further check this pdf document I wrote.


Zuboff, A. (1981). The story of a brain. In D. R. Hostadter & D. C. Dennett (Eds.), The mind’s I. London: Penguin.

Block, N. (1981). Psychologism and behaviorism. Philosophical Review 90:5-43.

Searle, J. R. (1992), The Rediscovery of the Mind (Representation and Mind). The MIT Press

Chalmers D. J. , A Computational Foundation for the Study of Cognition .

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Searching philosophy sites

You probably know that if you want to limit your google search just to a given site, you can do that by specifying site: parameter.
So, to search stanford philosophy encyclopedia for entries of Husserl, you would write the following in the google search box: husserl

Firefox only
Of course, it is tiresome to write that first part all the times, so you can add predefined keyword searches to your browser.
Go to the Bookmarks menu, then open the Quick Searches submenu. Right click there, and choose Add New Bookmark… option. Write whatever you want in name and description fields (e.g. google SEP), type st in the keyword field, and put in the location field:


After this you can click on the address bar (or click ctrl+l or alt+d to go there) and write:

st husserl

You can add multiple keyword searches, (by default you already have wp for wikipedia).
End Firefox only

If you want to search several philosophy sites at once, there is also a solution. You can define multiple sites searches in Rollyo, and then reuse them. I defined an example with few philosophy sites. Click the picture to go there.

Rollyo uses Yahoo search engine in the background.

Firefox only
Rollyo also has option so you can add the specified search in the search bar, so you don’t have to go to the site in order to do the search.
Or… you can define a keyword shortcut for the search, using the unique id every searchroll (that is the name for defined group search on Rollyo) has. For example, for philosearch , I will set keyword field to ph and following in the location field when adding bookmark with keyword:

Now I can search multiple sites for Husserl just by going to the address bar and typing:

ph husserl

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Relation of abstractions as given

The abstraction starts with one given (as context) and results with another given (as result). Hence, in an act of abstraction we have two relations between the abstraction and givens:

  1. Between the abstraction, and the given (as context)
  2. Between the abstraction, and the given (as result)

In the previous posts I concentrated mainly on the first one, i.e. the given, and how further it can be determined through abstractions.

Let’s concentrate on the second one: The relation between the abstraction and the given as result

Without the result, the act of abstraction is not abstraction. So, we might try to focus on color, shape, etc…, but if there is no given as result of this, we don’t say that we focused on color, shape, etc… (only that we tried)

The possible results of given abstraction are falling under that abstract. So “color” is any possible given(quale) that can be result of succesfull abstraction(e.g. attention to) of color; “shape” is any possible given(quale) that can be result of succesful abstraction of shape, etc…
For example, when we say “focus on the color”, whatever is the result of the abstraction of color, IS A color. (Again we are assuming there to be result at all).

Those kind of abstractions (as color and shape in those examples), in such way, don’t have existence qua abstractions, nor are recognized, imagined and thought qua abstractions; they are recognized, imagined and thought as connected to a possible given which is result of the abstraction.

So, connecting the two relations between the abstraction, and the givens, I will try to explain, how is relation between two abstracts possible. For example “red is a color”.
Red is any given which can be determined as red. But any such given quale which can determined as red, must be necesseraly result of the focus on color, “IS A COLOR”.
So the connection of the abstractions is done through the given, the relation between the abstractions is given, connecting the abstractions by which we got to the given, and abstractions used to determine it.

Given, Abstractions and Existence

In the post Existence of Abstraction (as result) I said that the given exists. That as result of an abstraction, we come to a concrete existing quale, which can be further determined. The given exists in its immediacy.

No abstraction will result with some abstract red as such. The possibility to “make peace” between the concrete and abstract, I argued, is just on one place – nothing, where certain abstraction covers the whole given – if we abstract from it we end up with impossibility for further abstraction.

The abstractions as such don’t ever exist by themselves, without being connected to a given – only a given can be determined as abstraction. So only a given can be red, circular, flat, etc…

Note 1:That we can imagine red, green, big and other abstracts, without those being given to us, is not saying that we won’t imagine them as given which is red, green, big, circular, flat and so on. In fact I can’t imagine red differently then by imagining that it is a given which is red, I can’t imagine a circular without imagining that it is given which is circular, and so on.

Mind-Body problem

In  What happens to non-materialists about consciousness?, I tried to show how non-materialists about consciousness can hardly stop there, and will need to accept that other phenomena in the nature as life and evolution are not-fully-physical also.

In my thinking, there is only one rational way to combine those things, without getting into dualistic thinking. And that is – to consider physical-world-of-physics a projection. In sense simmilar to that of vector space projection in math.

The analogy would be this… the physical-world-of-physics would be the x-axis, and the real world would be the plane. Analogical to the projection (in the example P(x,y)=(x,0)) would be the quantification of abstractions by 3rd person observers used in physics. This should be taken merely as analogy, as the projections in math are always quantitative in nature. Not so in the case of world to physical-world-of-physics.

So mind and brain would be two projections of the real world, one into 1st person abstractions, and the second into 3rd person abstractions. And because they are projections of the same “reality”, they show correlations. Of course, nothing is special about the part of reality which is projected to brains/minds, so it would be true that there would be something missing out from our analysis of projections of life, evolution, and everything else.

Of course, for one to accept this kind of thinking, must accept that things are not configurations of parts, but that things which exist can be further determined somehow. Check the semantics posts for argument on this.

And this is compatible with physics too. Take for example quantum entanglement which is more compatible with the idea of existing whole, which can be further determined (collapsed by measurement), then to usual thinking of physical systems as configurations of parts. Stanford encyclopedia has nice article on relation between physics and holistic ideas in general.

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