This video lecture series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjABUhyu6dw does a good job showing how a psychiatrist, Niall McLaren, argues toward a dual aspect theory. I recomend his books: http://www.niallmclaren.com/bibliography
Nice, thanks. I watched the series and took some notes (and sent them off to him also).
I like that he clearly sees the limitations of the other approaches, but he does not yet see the problems with the assumption of ‘information’ and the ‘semantic realm’. He is modeling experience logically in space rather than naturalistically through time.
1. He says that meaning “emerges from neuronal function”.
I would dispute that and say that nothing emerges from neuronal function except more neuronal function. Personal meaning is instead recovered as an experiential recapitulation of higher and lower levels (super-personal and sub-personal) of experience since experience is primitive and personal. His view mistakes the difference between one level of impersonal phenomena (form, matter) and another impersonal level (function, logic) for the difference between personal, private presentations
impersonal, public presentations. *
His view overlooks the same issue all the way down the line:
2. Logic gates, in his view, “coopt the mechanical function to acquit the semantic function of defining relationships”.
I suggest pivoting that assumption. It is we, the human end user or programmer who coopts both the a-signifying mechanical forms and a-signifying semiotic functions of the logic gate for our personal agendas. The logic gate has no semantic agenda, it is, like a marionette or cartoon character, a mindless machine with two mindless aspects – a spatially extended form and a temporally inferred function. There is no temporally intended motive, except the one which has been co-opted by the third and primary influence – participatory awareness .
We are exploiting the public physics of the logic gate’s form to generate a more subtle level of public physics which we read as signs. In other words, we exploit the public facing forms and functions of the gate to exploit our own public facing forms and functions (optical patterns to tease the eye, acoustic patterns to call to the ear), allowing a sharing and communication of experience in spite of forms and functions, which are completely hidden from the conscious spectacle. In fact no ‘information’ is exchanged, except metaphorically. What is exchanged is concretely real and physical, although physics and realism of course, should only be thought of as a range of scaled or scoped experience based on time-like frequencies on space-like obstructions.
3. His view focuses on the logic of the mind rather than the richness of qualia.
I suggest instead that the mind tries to be logical only when focusing on public interactions. Private fantasy would be the more raw presentation of mind; dreams, visions, delusions, etc. Logic is born out of necessity, not innate to consciousness. Left to our own devices, a brain in a nutritionally rich vat would wallow in a paradise of illogical raptures forever.
4. His view conflates grammatical structure for meaning.
This overlooks the point that communication is a skill learned expressly for public interaction, not for private understanding. The true meaning itself is not assembled internally from parts using logic and grammar, but rather ‘insists’ as a narrative gestalt. ‘The boy is eating some cake’ is only an experience of verbal syntax through which we recover a deeper perceptual understanding of the referent, based on our experiences with or about boys, eating, and cake. The order of words is no longer important within the private range of experience.
While it is important to model thought backwards through communication like he does for purposes of AI development, it is a mistake to apply the model the ontology that way. The horse is not an assembly of carts, so to speak. The cart without the horse is useless. The words and sentences are empty carts without the personal experience of semiosis, which is not included in physics or information theory. Experience is the key.
5. His views on personality and mental disorder are the weakest parts of the presentation in my opinion. They are normative and nakedly behaviorist, mistaking again public behaviors for private realities. What he sees as simply a collection of habits, I see as a vast interiority of identity and influence rooted in the sub-personal, super-personal and super-signifying bands of sensory-motive experience.
6. I disagree too that neurons “pass information mindlessly”.
I would say that the same could be said of our own mass production systems. All mechanism is mindless, but that doesn’t mean that sub-personal organisms like neurons are devoid of intention or participatory experience. It is that sub-personal experience which our experience is made of; not the motions of structures within cells, but the private content associated with the public bodies which we define as cells (through our human scaled perceptions).
The three pronged plug that he says we are looking for is sensory-motive participation (or ‘sense’). The three prongs are (I) private experience, (II) public bodies, and (III) the potential for significance-entropy to be generated through the multiple levels of spacetime-body::timespace-experience interaction.
I was sure to mention that I do appreciate his work. I think that he is doing a great job, and I probably disagree with his model less than I do most scientific models.
* to be precise, impersonal public presentations are representations from a fundamental or absolute perspective, while personal private presentations are representations from a derived or secondary perspective. This is very confusing, but something like a chair which is objectively real is fundamentally a representation within the experience of whoever is encountering it. The chair seems like a presentation to us because that is the function of the representation – to warn us of the presence of something completely outside of ourselves.
A feeling or a memory, by contrast, which is subjectively experienced is fundamentally a presentation within our experience but seems like a representation to us because it lacks the realism of a public representation. This is an ironic twist, that we see as real that which we have only indirect contact with through our body’s interactions and we tend to consider as less than real that through which we are directly manifested. I suggest that from an absolute or fundamental perspective, the personal, private range of presentation extends far beyond the public range in terms of phenomena which can cross the boundary of realism to allow experiences which are more than real and less than real. This feat, in my estimation, is far more impressive than the not-unimpressive feat of public presentation, which although staggeringly complex and orderly, is bound by the shackles of realism, empty of participation, meaning, and sensory quality.