Home > consciousness, philosophy, physics, semiotics > Being No One – Thomas Metzinger

Being No One – Thomas Metzinger

January 24, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

A very good, concise presentation. I disagree with his ultimate conclusions, not because of faulty reasoning, but because of the same overlooked assumptions which most contemporary thinkers miss. Despite the appeal to transparency of modeling to explain the existence of subjective qualities, there really is no connection offered at all. A model is a cognitive index through which one instance of experience or presentation can be encapsulated within another. This is a re-presentation. Data which moves from one table to another, which is concatenated or compressed, is not a model unless a conscious entity interprets it that way. A DVD full of laser pits is not a color and sound recording unless it is decoded to a video screen by a DVD player. The DVD player is not playing a movie unless a movie-literate audience is available to watch it.

The problem with the idea of the phenomenal self model, as I see it, is that there is no computational benefit or physical resource which could account for the extra-physical, extra-informational presentation of the ‘model’ to the unmodeled system. In Raymond Tallis’ book ‘Aping Mankind’, he talks about the obvious disadvantages to such an introduction of conscious presentation into unconscious systems, which, after all, have successfully driven the rest of the universe, from the synthesis of nucleic acids to the neutralization of countless pathogens in our immune system. For something as important as executive control of the organism as a whole, an error ridden, self-deluded agent is the last thing that you would want sitting in the cockpit. Imagine if your digestive system relied on such a volitional dreamer to assimilate your nutrients or remember to regulate the pH of your blood.

No, I’m afraid that no information-based architecture can be used to thoroughly explain subjective experience, although it can explain how the particular human quality of subjective experience can be repaired, augmented, manipulated, etc. With information, we can’t even emulate human consciousness, but we can emulate some important products of it, IMO.

I think that I have found a better way to approach phenomenal facts. Rather than assuming that the experience of seeing red is indirect and non-physical I propose instead that physics has a private and a public range (which themselves have overlapping and underlapping regions).

I suggest that experience of seeing red is not synonymous with factual knowledge, but rather all factual knowledge is a category of direct sensory-motor experience. Experience or sense is primary, beneath matter, energy, spacetime, quantum, information, and arithmetic. Not human sense, but sense as universal fundamental.

As human beings, we are staggeringly complex, multilevel organisms. Our direct experience encompasses nested sub-personal experiences and super-personal signifiers as a recapitulation or compound direct experience. The experience of seeing red is a simpler experience, not because it is an illusion or functionally expedient representation, but because it is, on the native level of a whole person, a direct and ‘pre-factual’ physically real presence. Physical reality referring specifically to that which has both privately and publicly ranged presentation.

It’s a complete reworking of physics, I admit, but I humbly say that I think that it reconciles physics, philosophy, subjectivity, and information theory.

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