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Consciousness and The Interface Theory of Perception, Donald Hoffman

January 14, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

A very good presentation with lot of overlap on my views. He proposes similar ideas about a sensory-motive primitive and the nature of the world as experience rather than “objective”. What is not factored in is the relation between local and remote experiences and how that relation actually defines the appearance of that relation. Instead of seeing agents as isolated mechanisms, I think they should be seen as more like breaches in the fabric of insensitivity.

It is a little misleading to say (near the end) that a spoon is no more public than a headache. In my view what makes a spoon different from a headache is precisely that the metal is more public than the private experience of a headache. If we make the mistake of assuming an Absolutely public perspective*, then yes, the spoon is not in it, because the spoon is different things depending on how small, large, fast, or slow you are. For the same reason, however, nothing can be said to be in such a perspective. There is no experience of the world which does not originate through the relativity of experience itself. Of course the spoon is more public than a headache, in our experience. To think otherwise as a literal truth would be psychotic or solipsistic. In the Absolute sense, sure, the spoon is a sensory phenomena and nothing else, it is not purely public (nothing is), but locally, is certainly is ‘more’ public.

Something that he mentioned in the presentation had to do with linear algebra and using a matrix of columns which add up to be one. To really jump off into a new level of understanding consciousness, I would think of the totality of experience as something like a matrix of columns which add up, not to 1, but to “=1”. Adding up to 1 is a good enough starting point, as it allows us to think of agents as holes which feel separate on one side and united on the other. Thinking of it as “=1” instead makes it into a portable unity that does something. Each hole recapitulates the totality as well as its own relation to that recapitulation: ‘just like’ unity. From there, the door is open to universal metaphor and local contrasts of degree and kind.

*mathematics invites to do this, because it inverts the naming function of language. Instead of describing a phenomenon in our experience through a common sense of language, math enumerates relationships between theories about experience. The difference is that language can either project itself publicly or integrate public-facing experiences privately, but math is a language which can only face itself. Through math, reflections of experience are fragmented and re-assembled into an ideal rationality – the ideal rationality which reflects the very ideal of rationality that it embodies.

  1. January 14, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Just to clarify, when he describes us as “creating what we see,” he does mean that we create as in “to make manifest,” but rather to perceive, correct?

    Seeing does not cause something to be, although seeing causes things to take on qualities to the extent that we are able to perceive, yes?

    • January 14, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      Yes, I think that whole area is not quite as developed as the other points he is making. There is still a double standard going on where the world of experiences is separate from the world of pure functions which somehow create experiences. I think that if we start from the beginning with a sense primitive, then our experience is not so much created as calibrated locally in the same way that Relativity is more like a dynamic table of equivalences than an effect which is being literally produced. When an object appears to us as smaller because it is further away, for instance, we are not shrinking the object, it is just how size and distance are related – it is the truth about perception of size and distance relative to our body. When we see a perceptual illusion, we are seeing the truth about how our perception is customized to integrate with other scales of own perception.

      • January 14, 2014 at 7:09 pm

        Thank you. 🙂

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