Peeking Behind the Icons

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Peeking Behind the Icons by Donald Hoffman

Quote:After you put on your helmet, you find yourself on a sandy beach with nine other players dressed not in the ugly high-tech bodysuits you saw just a moment ago, but in flattering bathing suits. You’re surrounded by palms trees and blue skies, with light puffy clouds. You hear the soft screeching of gulls, and the gentle pounding of surf. You see an off-white volleyball lying before you on the sand, and a volleyball net already set up...

Then you serve and the fun begins. You and the others are soon completely absorbed as you dig, set, feint, and spike with abandon. This goes on for a few wonderful minutes.

Then, suddenly, you are plagued with philosophical worries about the game you’re now playing. Between points, and in lulls in the action, question after question comes to mind. The first is this:

Are we all seeing and playing with the same volleyball?

Quote:So, returning to our brain example, the phenomenal brain that you saw in The Virtual Brain, and the phenomenal brains that neuroscientists study in their labs, are wonderful graphical interfaces and eminently worthy of study, but they are not the relational brain and they alone cannot determine the true nature of that relational brain. The relationship between the phenomenal brain and the relational brain is systematic and arbitrary, as arbitrary as the relation between mint and columns of glass.

Hoffman also digs deeper into these questions in a more recent work that's brought up in another thread, but I'll just link here for convenience:

Quote:If ITP is right, then causality of physical objects is doomed. When a bat hits a ball, we naturally assume that the subsequent motion of the ball is caused by its collision with the bat. ITP entails that this assumption is false. Bat and ball are simply perceptual icons employed by H. sapiens to guide adaptive behavior. They are not insights into the causal structure of objective reality.

Quote:Similarly, for most everyday purposes, indeed for most scientific purposes, it is a harmless, even useful, fiction to attribute causal powers to physical objects in space-time. For instance, for most research in neuroscience it is a harmless fiction to assume that neurons have causal powers, and that neural activity causes our behaviors and conscious experiences. But for someone who wants to understand the hard problem of consciousness — namely, how our conscious experiences are related to brain activity — this fiction is no longer harmless, and has blocked progress for centuries. ITP makes a clear prediction: Neural activity causes none of our behaviors and none of our conscious experiences. If experiments prove otherwise, then ITP is disconfirmed.

Quote:Space and time are not fundamental features of objective reality. The predicates of space and time are predicates that a particular species has evolved as a useful shorthand to guide adaptive behaviors. They are not an insight. Physicists will discover that spacetime is not the right language or framework for a theory of reality as it is. They will discover that theories that are forced to be stated in the language of spacetime will miss deep symmetries of nature, and will probably also be unnecessarily complex. They will discover that there is a deeper theory of reality, one that is non spatial and non temporal, from which spacetime can be derived as a consequence. An example of this kind of theory is the work of Seth Lloyd (2006), in which he posits that quantum information and quantum computations — not in space and time but just in themselves — might be the fundamental reality.

For more on Seth Lloyd's theory, see this thread.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell

(This post was last modified: 2018-11-16, 07:53 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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The "might be the fundamental reality" suggests to me he has given given the matter a great deal of thought.  A well as well as bringing to mind one my favorite quotes. " things are not as they appear, nor are  they otherwise.
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