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FleshFactor: regressive force wishes to be ghost in machine

A E C  F O R U M - "F L E S H F A C T O R"

In response to my statement, "Everything we comprehend, we can 
construct. Everything we construct is a machine," Richard Brown wrote:

> Can we construct everything we comprehend?  How fully do we (and can we)
> comprehend the given, the stuff of nature?  Is comprehension merely a
> cognitive reflection of reality, a metaphor for something "out there", a
> symbolic description that serves us as a useful analytical and predictive
> tool.  Can we comprehend awareness? happiness?? intelligence???.

I am glad you took this up. I actually wanted to do it myself, but had no
time (writing in Enlish is hard work for me). Anybody else? Comprehension
(with all its different modes: immanent, transcendental, intuitive,
functional) is an interesting subject, and certainly a key to why we
sometimes don't understand each other (when stating things from within our
different modes of comprehension). 

If we can comprehend awareness...? We do recognize it, don't we? That in
itself is a (kind of) comprehension. Albeit not enough to 'construct'
awareness, but enough to relate to it (and build models and theories that
help us think about it). Which generally is all we can do - given the kind of
intellect we have. Yes, as long as intellect is involved, I would say that
comprehension is 'merely a cognitive reflection of reality' and a metaphor
for something 'out there'. The only way, I suppose, to 'fully comprehend the
given' is contemplation (by which I don't mean meditation; and if any of you
think contemplation is a silly discipline, I won't be too lazy to sit down
and systematically and thoroughly demonstrate that it has higher cognitive
value than that of the intellect, but no practical value). The thing with
contemplation is that what we gain there is not concrete knowledge, but
insights, and insights we cannot use to construct things because they (the
things) would then have to include everything that our insights include, and
that is infinitely more than the thing we want to construct. 

Shall we ever comprehend life in such a way that we can construct living
organisms? Is there a "life force" which will always defy our comprehension,
that kind of comprehension which allows us to construct things, or if not a
'life force' then an 'evolutionary legacy' which is beyond our grasp, or is
it just a matter of studying more carefully and getting better at
manipulating those giant amino acid molecules and the like? 

Talking about models and theories, what do you think about Minsky's model 
self-awareness - with A, B, C (n) brains? I could never work out where brain B
gets all its ideas about what to tell brain A to do. From brain C? And where
does C get them from? D? E, F, G...? Where does it all start and end (if
anywhere)? Somewhere within the boundaries of the model? That is the thing with
models, that they are isolated from everything else. Models have to be,
otherwise we would end up with one infinite model which wouldn't fit in our
finite(?) brain.


Valery Grancher wrote:

> I don't think that we can be all right when we mix concepts from various
> domains such as philosophy, metaphysics, science.  This kind of a
> conceptual mixture or concoction becomes a new kind of fiction. 
I too am often disturbed by this, but at the same time I don't feel I should
be. That is to say I have a definite feeling that 'domain-merging', even if
indiscriminate, can generate nourishing food for thought. Why shouldn't we
mix concepts from various domains? We can do what ever we like - as long as
we know what we are doing. And even if we don't - conceptual confusions and
mistakes can sometimes bring new insights, which might never be arrived at by
a more methodical approach. 

As we know that every language (including English) is a meta-language, providing
various kinds of 'phenomenological perception', why shouldn't we let our
'phenomenological perception' have its head?

> Please be serious  [V.G.]

Yes, Sir.! Whatever you say. We've been silly and had fun while you were
away, but now that you're back, we'll behave ourselves. (Just kidding. 
Don't get me wrong, but get me.)


Why do I always feel like I'm 200 years old when I sit down to write a
message to FleshFactor? As if something was dragging me back in time to find
my thoughts for FF in the 18th century or thereabouts. And I see myself as
not the only regressive force in this forum, as many other participants also
seem to exhibit historically regressive tendencies. We are a bit like birds
who can't take off from the sandy ground because their flapping just makes
them sink in more and more. 

Why can't we see any bright prospects in the future? I find myself reading
Derek Robinson's old submissions over and over to get a lift in the direction
I think this forum should be heading. The kind of optimistic ease with which
he relates to things in those writings gives one a kick. Come on, Derek, tell
us some more stories about cursors moving about on the screen as we wish,
while our bodies turn into solid cubes and the space around us gets folded
into our chests. It was very stimulating and inspiring! It almost made me
change my mind about all the 'inward-looking-entity' stuff I was defending so
stubbornly. I'd very much like to try how it feels to be "a ghost in the
machine" and I'd gladly let my 'autonomous entity' dissolve behind the 
screen and watch my 'identity' (what a burden!) disappear. If you ever need a
guinea-pig for your VR experiments (what is it you actually work with?) -
here I am, even at the risk of not being quite myself afterwards. 

 Dinka Pignon


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