8. Pinocchio : Consciousness
Why is it that the world seems
to be out there beyond our eyes when we can be certain that the world we are
experiencing is within the confines of our skulls? The answer lies in the difference between the presentation
phase and response phase of our navigation systems. Our tendency, even if we are
educated as to the processes of our navigation system, is to think of what we
are experiencing in the presentation phase of our minds to be the appearance
and nature of the external world. The presentation phase is a Map and is our
mind’s analog for a world that has no appearance.
The reason we experience the Map as a dynamic
world is a result of the way the navigation system works. The presentation phase
functionally proceeds the computation of response in the response phase.
you are reading this paper, you are probably a lot like me.
Ours minds are busy with ideas a lot of the time.
We come up for a reality check every so often and to our surprise we find
that the world is there more or less just the way it was when we left it.
Our experience of the world is substantial in a way that the ideas that
are metamorphosing in our minds are not. We
do reality checks because our ideas can take us too far a field from the world
that we have to deal with and to which our ideas, if they are to have any value,
must apply. But in fact, this
distinction that we feel between the world of our ideas and the real world is
the distinction between the presentation phase and the response phase of our
navigation systems. We have no
experience that is not innate to our own flesh.
you think about it, you will see that the processes of the presentation phase
should not (logically in respect to selective evolution) be manipulatable by the
conscious mind. In the presentation phase we need to see the world as it is
rather than how we would like it to be. The
aspect of the conscious mind that deals with thought is based on the function of
action planning (see SELF: From Action Plan to Person) and is creative which is
appropriate to the response phase of navigation. That is the aspect of
consciousness wherein we imagine the world the way we would like it to be and
then try to effect the change. Changing the presentation of the world in our
minds would not accomplish the navigation needed to survive in the ‘real’
world. On the other hand, the
character of the response phase is one in which we want to have creativity of
ideas to design responses to the ‘real’ world.
The person that is ‘in touch with reality’ is adept at comparing his
ideas with the Map and with memories of the ‘real world’.
The emotional content of a reality check feels the way that it does
because of this contrast between the two phases of navigation.
Both phases are part of our conscious mind but the presentation phase is
beyond the thinking mind’s sphere to manipulate.
sharp distinction between the Map and the world of our thoughts and imaginings
is the reason that we are (before we learn otherwise) convinced that we are
dealing with the experience of the world itself. The method of presenting the external environment in the
navigation system is for all intents and purposes fixed.
We (our ‘selves’) are not allowed to manipulate the way that the Map
is presented. The environment is
the exclusive affecter of the presentation function so that the Map is an analog
of the world. It therefore seems
that what we experience in the Map is not ourselves.
On the other hand, the Map is an artifice manufactured by the organism
that has none of the character of the world for which it is an analog.
being kidnapped by aliens from outer space and being blindfolded and moved into
a pitch-black room. You have access
to an unlimited source of tennis balls and your left foot is chained to whatever
you are standing on. In fact, the
room has all kinds of equipment to monitor you but none of it makes any sound or
admits any kind of radiation. After
a while you get bored and decide that you will start throwing the tennis balls
out into the darkness. You can hear
them hit things and sometimes more than one thing as they go ricocheting about.
From the pattern of the sounds you begin to form an image of the spatial
relationships of things in the room. You
have very keen ears and a perfect memory and so as time passes you begin to have
clear images of the objects in the room but they are all very foreign and mean
nothing to you.
situation design is intended to be an analogy for our relationship to our
environment but it will only serve as a starting point.
The first counterpoint of the analogy is that the room is pitch black
because there is no such thing as appearance outside of our minds.
By throwing tennis balls you are able to get information.
The counterpoint for tennis balls in the analogy is photons.
The analogy gets a bit messy here because instead of tennis balls coming
back to you, photons from some light source are bounced off objects and then
they bring information to you instead of the sound (air vibrations) of your
tennis balls hitting things.
call photons light but it is entirely a mistake to think of light in colors. The absence of appearance is not necessarily pitch-blackness
and maybe pitch-blackness is a not even good analogy. The photons are stimuli carrying information that set brain
states to experiential states of color. The
spatial relationships in the pattern of the photons reaching you is preserved by
your visual system and an analogy for the pattern of spatial relationships is
constructed in states of your brain producing your experience of seeing things. When
you constructed images of the objects in the dark room from the sounds of the
tennis balls hitting things, you did so using an innate ability to layout a
spatial relationship in your mind. Your
mind already had an empty spatial framework in which you could locate the
relative coordinates of the returning sounds of tennis balls hitting things.
is my opinion that this framework is a
physical space in our minds in which the spatial relationships of the analogy
for the external world (the Map) can be laid out. There probably are multiple registers for different aspects
of vision that are correlated but I believe there must be and underlying
physical spatial relationship. I
have two reasons for that opinion. It
would be too difficult to take analog information out of a spatial format and
represent it in a digital, mathematical or other non-spatial format, be able to
retain information on all the zillions of relative coordinates and compute
navigation. I can’t imagine
navigation evolving that way in nature. It
would seem far more reasonable to think that a spatial analogy for the
environment was projected to the brain upon which spatial navigation could be
computed directly. The other reason
is that if our notion of space is not derived from the experience of space
itself in the mind then I think we have to question whether space is an illusion
fundamentally. That might mean that
there are no dimensions, no distances between things and that things are not in
positions relative to each other. If
space is an illusion then I haven’t been able to penetrate it.
One thing does seem certain; we are still a long way from understanding
the neural correlates of experience. Nevertheless,
our experience is of the brain and it appears in a spatial format.
finish up on counter pointing the analogy of our darkened room, I should point
out that although sounds are different to colors they are both experiences.
We can wonder if a bat sees the shapes of things in the world or instead hears
their shapes or maybe its experience is something altogether different that we
can’t even imagine because we have no such experience with which to imagine. It seems entirely reasonable to think that other creatures or
even inanimate things may have experiential states, which are different than
ours. Our brains’ hardware
determines the experiential states in which we can imagine. And don’t forget, unless there is also a cognitive link to
an experiential state, it cannot be known.
is one other aspect of the darkened room analogy that I couldn’t assemble an
aura of importance about but that is very important.
I said it was an alien environment and that you didn’t recognize
anything in it. That is not quite
true. You recognized that it was
yourself in the room, chained to the floor and that you had tennis balls.
Suppose we were to take even those recognizable objects a way and then
did away with gravity and all your tactile senses.
I am sure that you have heard about black box experiments in which they
put a person for an extended period of time and his/her mind becomes
the mind as a navigation system, couldn’t we expect it to break down?
What would there be to process and is the mind not what it is processing?
Of course there is a lot of internal memory that can be processed but
that is not the designed purpose of the system.
There is an intangible relationship of the mind to the environment that
is essential to the processes of the mind.
It is a gap that we could not expect a mind in a black box to fill for
long. There is a unity of the mind
and the environment such that our minds are complimentary functions of that
relationship. It is information
from the environment that forms the content of the mind. If it were possible to drop your mind into a telepathic gas
cloud somewhere out in space it would soon become non-functional or begin to
learn new content. The earth is a
stage in which the mind is a part in the drama but without the stage its costume
and all its lines are pointless. Finally,
the stage itself is pointless. There
are only relative roles being played by the actors. The mind is what it is because the world is what it is.
It would have been a very different relationship if it had begun
differently long ago. The experience of consciousness is the function of a
navigation system. Though some of
us may be navigating primarily through ideas our entire behavior finds its basis
in navigating to survive.
you will imagine all this in gray, as we did in the paper ‘PINNOCHIO:
Thought’, you will be able to see it all as a dance in the sea of particles
except for a very important detail. You
are a part of the event. The
content of your mind is merely an intangible representation of the world but
beyond your mind you are also a material part of the event happening.
That materiality is the substrate of your mind and it is invested by the
intangible function of intelligence, which represents what is happening in the
world and thinks about it. The
function of intelligence perpetuates the life of the organism in which it has
arisen. To do that, it is
associated to a navigation system that represents the environment in patterns of
your states of being creating the contents of your mind.
just is experience (a physical
state of being) and if it did not exist you would not have experience.
It is because it is also the substrate for cognitive processes that you
know about it. You can imagine
‘nothing’ because nothing is an idea but you can’t imagine the experience
of nothing. Imagining experience
requires experience. The world outside of our minds has no appearance because
appearance is a construct predicated on experiential states in our brains.
If it were not so, we would not be able to close our eyes and imagine
seeing something in our minds. Ideas
can be processed without experiential states but then we wouldn’t be aware of
them experientially as inner speech or visual imaginings.
you want to truly understand this then try to get beyond the egotistical ruse of
being an observer. Get something
that is flat and of matte appearance in a neutral tone (like green or brown)
with no texture of color, hue or surface to distract you that is large enough to
fill your vision. Stare at this
surface at reading distance until you can come to grips with the fact that what you are looking at is not there but rather is a state in your
brain. While your mind is
processing data about an object, the object is content in the process but if you
have negated everything about the functional role of the object (in this case
the one at which you are staring) then it should reduce to pure experience.
It is at that point that you should be able to realize experience is a
state of your being. You are trying
to make the leap from being an observer into being an experience.
Being an observer is a relationship that overlays reality.
Experience is not a relationship. It
is a state. This is worth doing to understand what consciousness is from
the bottom up. If you have already
understood logically how our conscious world is constructed then your mind
should be able to lead you to this jumping off point. The mind is process and cannot be experience nor can it make
the last step to realizing experience but it can take you (you are the mind)
there and abandon you for the moment that you need to realize experience for
itself free of being an image in the mind.
We can understand what we are.
is all that there is that is real in our world.
It is the media on which the mind formulates consciousness. Conscious images are formed in experiential states.
The forms are a Map that represents the external environment.
Everything that we consider to be the world is only our own mind’s
analogy for the world. We
experience the world because of this process and the world we experience is this
process. It is an information process.
We do not experience real things. Things
only exist for us as the shapes of experiential states even if they are a tiger
leaping at us or the arms of our lover. Consider
the fact that this is the only world you have ever known.
You haven’t been able to compare it to the real world.
That possibility simply doesn’t exist because the world you know would
not exist if it were not for intangible information processing being carried on
a physical substrate within your skull.
you wave your hand in front of your face, you will notice that there is a
trailing image of your hand left over from the moments before the point at which
you are looking at it. The reason
for the trailing image is that the states representing where your hand was are
still fading while your hand has moved to another position.
Your real hand does not have a trailing image. Would we see motion if there were no trailing image?
I don’t think neural science can answer this question satisfactorily
yet. There are cells that have been
recognized as motion detector cells but I don’t think it is clear as to how
they fit into consciousness. Motion seems to be as much an idea as it is an event.
What tells us that a blurred image of a hand is a moving hand and not
simply a blurred thing? The blur disappears when the image stops moving.
That would be a conceptual understanding of the blur implying something
in motion. We might not be
knowledgeably aware of the blur representing motion but we have certainly
learned the concept unconsciously. To see motion, we
have to experience the image of something being in more than one place at once,
where it was and where it is, and its transiting from the first to the second
place. Motion, in the way that we
experience it, is something that can only be apprehended in a mental process
where the system design has a fade time. Of
course a mechanical system such as a motion detector can detect motion but to
consciously experience motion implies a moving conscious experience.
So here we have another characterization that the mind adds to the way
that it represents the world. The
motion that we perceive is not a characteristic of the world but is rather only
a characteristic of the mind. Objects
in the world move but not in the way that we perceive them to move.
how far does this system bias go in distorting what the external world is really
like or in creating the way that we experience our world?
There is a sense of motion about our lives.
We are involved in activities that are moving our organism from point A
to point B. We even feel motion in
our minds as we understand things. Is
it only the system’s ability to hold onto the ‘moment before’ (and maybe
its inability to have it fade instantly) that creates the sense of motion?
It may be that the mind’s sense of motion and time are not real world
concepts. I want to say frankly
that I don’t understand time fundamentally.
I am pointing out that the sense of time that the mind understands is a
process that is peculiar to itself. It
creates what it calls motion which is the foundation for its sense of time.
It is only in the mind that an object can be moving from here to there.
In reality it is either here or there or where it is while it is moving
but it is not here moving to there. That
is a product of the fade factor in the mind.
The fade factor happens in the presentation phase of navigation but the
motion it implies can then be reinforced by deduction in the response phase that
remembers where something was in comparison to where it is.
is also this sense of motion that gives the mind its ability to understand
function. If it did not see things
move it would be hard to imagine it understanding how one thing related
dynamically to another. If we could
not understand how things behaved then we could not anticipate events. We can imagine instinctual creatures reacting to the fade
factor as motion but we can’t suppose that they can contemplate the passage of
time or coordinate events. Time for our minds is more than mechanical fact.
It is conceptual, too. It is
a tool that we use to plan actions. We
have created time in a way that makes it difficult to know what real world time
is not a system in a vacuum by any means. It
is more like the executive department of the nervous organization of the
organism. The conscious mind is a dynamic system that is responsible for
gratifying the needs of the inner milieu of the organism and navigating the
organism as a mobile entity in the environment in which the organism must
survive. It is not directly
involved with controlling the functions of the inner milieu but the organism’s
internal conditions such as hunger, thirst, body temperature and fatigue are
summarized and reported to it. It
in turn is driven by these conditions to cause the entity of the organism to
perform actions that will change or gratify those conditions.
The mind primarily directs the activities of the whole organism.
It does this through control of the musculoskeletal system.
summary, I would like to draw a portrait of consciousness.
The physical limits of our conscious experience are within our heads.
Nothing reaches out from our heads to apprehend the world. Our sensory apparatuses glean information from cues in the
environment but from that point on the information about the environment is
presented as an analogy in a format that is peculiar to the brain.
Nothing in our world is what it appears to be.
All things in the landscape of our world are built from the fabric of
experiences. Our world is a living biological process that is a navigation
is a dynamic relationship driven by the need to gratify conditions that keep the
body in equilibrium internally and within the environment. These needs are generated in the body and are summarized and
reported to the mind where they are felt as drives and emotions and where they
motivate one’s intelligence to devise action plans to gratify them.
The mind contains a proprioceptive image of the body that intelligence
identifies as the organism, which it is to serve.
The environment is represented for intelligence in the Map, which
presents the world dynamically in such away that the functions of things in the
world can be observed. The mind
learns the behavior of things so that it can anticipate changes in the
environment while navigating the organism through it.
Intelligence is dynamic information processing being driven by needs to
organize responses to the conditions of the environment.
It identifies the body image of the organism in which it arises as itself
and the needs of the organism as its own. It
thus becomes a cybernetic entity and the agent of the organism and views the
world as different than itself. The
world it relates to is the presentation phase of navigation in the mind but the
‘self’ as agent of the organism sees the presentation as the world that is
external to itself the organism. It
explains this by believing that it sees, hears and otherwise perceives the
world, as it is where it is. The
presentation phase is a good analogy for the world because what is presented is
controlled by the information coming from the environment.
The ‘self’ is not aware of itself as the response phase of navigation
and so causes intelligence to second-guess itself through the subsystem of the
‘self’. There is no one to
dispute it so the ‘self’ establishes itself in its beliefs as the mover and
shaker that controls all the activities of the entity of the organism.
The ‘self’ is an anomaly in the navigation system but the system
accommodates its creation. More
will be said about the ‘self’ in the next paper PINNOCHIO: Self.
So this is how we come to be people in the world when in fact it is all
information being processed by neurons in our heads.