B:CP Course Study Guide Ch. 3 Premises

[Rick Marken (2013.07.20.1440)]

And here’s the Study Guide for Ch. 3, Premises.

Best

Rick

Week 4 Study Guide, CH 3 Premises.doc (28.5 KB)

···


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Rupert Young (2013.07.23 22.00 BST)]

1. If all perceptions are “neural currents” then why do all perceptions seem so different from each other. Why does the perception of “blue” differ from a perception like “honesty” if they are both just the rates of firing of neurons?
Well, big question; concerning qualia and consciousness. Did I miss this in the chapter? No idea.

2\. What is the advantage of the premise that all perceptions are “neural currents”?

Not sure I understand the question, advantage compared to what?
1. Do you agree that “experienced reality” is different from “a supposed external reality” as Bill says on page 39 of the chapter? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes. External reality is quantitative, experience is qualitative and perceptions don't have external correlates.

4\. Why does Bill prefer the analog computer as a model for the nervous system over the digital computer?

Due to their continuous nature they better reflect continuous reality.

As an exercise, try to relate the analog components described in Ch. 3 to the components of the basic control system as implemented in Powers’ Live Block Diagram program:

I can't see in the block diagram where the type of functions are specified, though I guess the comparator is the summation of inhibitory and excitatory signals.

Leading questions:
1. One, itchy leg. No.
2. Yes loads. Yes many.
3. No, that would be silly (and dangerous). Yes.
4. No. No. No.

Regards,
Rupert Young
Mobile: +447795 480387
Moon's Information Technology Limited

···

On 20/07/2013 22:38, Richard Marken wrote:

[Rick Marken (2013.07.20.1440)]

And here's the Study Guide for Ch. 3, Premises.

Best

Rick

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
<mailto:rsmarken@gmail.com>> rsmarken@gmail.com
<http://www.mindreadings.com>> www.mindreadings.com

[Rick Marken (2013.07.24.0920)]

  Rupert Young (2013.07.23 22.00

BST)]

  1.       If
    

all perceptions are “neural currents” then why do all
perceptions
seem so different from each other. Why does the perception of
“blue”
differ from a perception like “honesty” if they are both just
the
rates of firing of neurons?
Well, big question; concerning qualia and consciousness. Did I
miss this in the chapter? No idea.

Thanks for the replies, Rupert. In case anyone else is planning to answer let me quickly comment on what we’re trying to get at in this chapter.

There is no answer to question 1 in the chapter. We just want you to think about the implications of assuming that neural firing rates represent perceptions. Since all firing rates are the same what do you think makes one firing rate different than another. The answer to this does assume that you already know something about the PCT models of behavior.

     2. What is the advantage of the premise that all perceptions

are
“neural currents”?

  Not sure I understand the question, advantage compared to what?

The advantage relative to the digital view which assumes that pattern of neural firing is a code that represents perceptions in some way.

  1.         Do you agree
    

that “experienced reality” is different from “a supposed
external reality” as Bill says on page 39 of the chapter? If
so, why? If not, why not?

  Yes. External reality is quantitative, experience is qualitative

and perceptions don’t have external correlates.

OK, this answer does reflect a good understanding of the question. It’s a good answer though it would be nice to have a little more explanation, particularly of what you mean by “perceptions don’t have external correlates”.

      4. Why does Bill prefer the analog computer as a model for the

nervous system over the digital computer?

  Due to their continuous nature they better reflect continuous

reality.

I think there is a better answer to this and it is given in the chapter.

    As

an
exercise, try to relate the analog components described in Ch. 3
to the components of the basic control system as implemented in
Powers’ Live Block Diagram program:

  I can't see in the block diagram where the type of functions are

specified, though I guess the comparator is the summation of
inhibitory and excitatory signals.

Yes, you do have to answer this on the basis of your existing understanding of PCT. And you’re right, the comparator represents the summation of inhibitory and excitatory signals. I think the main thing I would like you to think about is the fact that the signals (perceptual and error) are real numbers. I would like you to think about how this relates to the basic premises of PCT described in Ch. 3 and what this suggests about the consistency of PCT (versus other model of behavior) with basic neurophysiology.

Best

Rick

···
  Leading questions:
  1. One, itchy leg. No.
  2. Yes loads. Yes many.
  3. No, that would be silly (and dangerous). Yes.
  4. No. No. No.
Regards,
Rupert Young
Mobile: +447795 480387
Moon's Information Technology Limited

On 20/07/2013 22:38, Richard Marken wrote:

[Rick Marken (2013.07.20.1440)]

  And here's the Study Guide for Ch. 3, Premises.



  Best



  Rick



  --

  Richard S. Marken PhD

  rsmarken@gmail.com

  [www.mindreadings.com](http://www.mindreadings.com)


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Adam Matic 2013.07.25.1820 CET]

···
  1.       If
    

all perceptions are “neural currents” then why do all
perceptions
seem so different from each other. Why does the perception of
“blue”
differ from a perception like “honesty” if they are both just
the
rates of firing of neurons?

My best guess is simple because they are physically separate perceptions. They ‘exist’ in different parts of the nervous system. Ther perception of blue is somewhere in the occipital lobe. There are neurons that say ‘this is X amount of blue’. It’s similar for honesty - there is perceptual function somewhere in the brain that perceives how ‘honest’ some sentence or a person is.

      2. What is the advantage of the premise that all perceptions

are
“neural currents”?

In relation to the digital coding premise, there is no need for coding and decoding, the signal simply is perception.

  1.         Do you agree
    

that “experienced reality” is different from “a supposed
external reality” as Bill says on page 39 of the chapter? If
so, why? If not, why not?

Don’t see what else there is to do but agree. Quite trippy.

“Look around: That is perception. It’s always there.”

  4. Why does Bill prefer the analog computer as a model for the

nervous system over the digital computer?

The most important reason, I guess, is that it seems to be a much better approximation of what biological neural systems do. Correlates of neural activity are not found in digital code, but in impulse frequency, on all receptors.

    5. As

an
exercise, try to relate the analog components described in Ch. 3
to the components of the basic control system as implemented in
Powers’ Live Block Diagram program:

The input function could be composed of various elements, with adding, subtracting, multiplying, integrating or differentiating, depending on it’s complexity. The comparator is probably just weighted adding and subtracting. The output function, again, could probably contain complex functions.

Adam

One main implication, I guess, is that the fact that different
perceptions are a product of similar neural currents is that what we
experience is not external reality, but experience “constructed”
within the brain. This, and PCT in general, I think still doesn’t
explain why there is a different qualitative, or experiential,
difference between neural pathways. This also raises the issue of whether other animals are conscious of
this difference, and does that matter? I would say no. That being
conscious of the qualitative difference between perceptions is not
necessary to achieve control of (most) perceptions. After all we are
not conscious of most of what we are controlling at any given
moment.

Bill gave the example of the perception of taste being a combination
of sensation of sweetness and acidity, but there is nothing in the
external world that correlates to that perception. The reality that impinges on our selves, our bodies, comprises what
could be called raw values of environmental events. But those values
are of a quantitative nature, such as wavelengths of light falling
on the retina, rather than the experiential quality of a colour,
such as blue. It is only at this boundary that we could say that
neural currents correlate with the external world. Retinal cones,
for examples, respond to to wavelengths of light roughly
corresponding to red, green and blue. This (visible light) is only a
small proportion of the entire spectrum of light in the environment;
and is different in other animals. As the response is probably not
strictly linear then the neural currents in the cones are not direct
correlates of the light, besides the point that the “units”
(wavelengths and current) are different.
Beyond this anything we experience is not directly experienced, but
a combination of lower-level neural currents. We don’t have cones
that respond to the colour purple, so any perception of purple is a
higher-level perception of values from the red and blue cones.
Higher-level perceptions are formed in the brain. Light reflected
from a chair is an incoherent set of independent lights rays, it is
only in the brain that they somehow become related. It is more
obvious with other perceptions, such as hunger, a (perceptual)
feeling for which nothing exists in the external world (includes
stomach) to which this perception corresponds. Likewise with
abstract concepts, such as honesty, fairness, fear or justice.

···

[From Rupert Young (2013.07.25 20.40
BST)]

Rick Marken (2013.07.24.0920)]
          If all perceptions are “neural currents” then why do

all perceptions seem so different from each other. Why
does the perception of “blue” differ from a perception
like “honesty” if they are both just the rates of firing
of neurons?
Well, big question; concerning qualia and consciousness.
Did I miss this in the chapter? No idea.

      Thanks for the replies, Rupert. In case anyone else is

planning to answer let me quickly comment on what we’re trying
to get at in this chapter.

      There is no answer to question 1 in the chapter. We just want

you to think about the implications of assuming that neural
firing rates represent perceptions. Since all firing rates are
the same what do you think makes one firing rate different
than another. The answer to this does assume that you already
know something about the PCT models of behavior.

  1.                 Do you agree that
    

“experienced reality” is different from “a supposed
external reality” as Bill says on page 39 of the
chapter? If so, why? If not, why not?

          Yes. External reality is quantitative, experience is

qualitative and perceptions don’t have external
correlates.

      OK, this answer does reflect a good understanding of the

question. It’s a good answer though it would be nice to have a
little more explanation, particularly of what you mean by
“perceptions don’t have external correlates”.

Regards,
Rupert

[Martin Taylor 2013.07.26.13.00]

  1.        If all perceptions are “neural
    

currents” then why do all perceptions seem so different from each
other. Why
does the perception of “blue” differ from a perception like
“honesty” if they
are both just the rates of firing of neurons?

  [MT] This question is about the difference between conscious

perception and perceptual signals. More precisely, it concerns the
fact that if there is a real environment such that actions upon it
can influence the values of the differently located perceptual
signals, then different actions have different effects on
different perceptual signals. Technically, those differences need
not be reflected in different qualia, but if there is to be
consciousness that can be in some way used to affect what is and
what is not controlled, then the different controllable
perceptions should be differently tagged in consciousness.
Furthermore, the controllable perceptions that together contribute
to a higher-level controllable perception should be so marked
(tagged) in consciousness. The “tags” are the qualia.

  1.        What is the advantage of the premise
    

that all perceptions are “neural currents”?

[MT] I think one of the most important paragraphs in the book is the

one at the bottom of p23, that starts “The level of detail one
accepts as basic must be consistent with the level of detail in the
phenomena to be described in these basic terms.” If the signal
pathways are physically bunches of parallel neurons, and a
phenomenon have a bandwidth low enough that sufficient neural
impulses will occur in the tract to allow tracing the course of the
highest frequency component of the phenomenon, then it is convenient
and will not affect the results if we consider only the average
rate. Bill does make the point that this is only an approximation,
but to me it is the same approximation as distinguishes chemistry
from atomic physics.

[MT] On p25 Bill makes a related, and perhaps equally important,

point that the linear systems he will be describing are only a
small-signal approximation to what actually happens, and do not
apply when values in a linear system would go negative. This has
often been forgotten in CSGnet discussions of PCT, and it is
important, because when you leave the small-signal domain,
non-linear systems can exhibit quite unexpected behaviour.

  1. Do you agree that
    “experienced reality” is
    different from “a supposed external reality” as Bill says on page
    39 of the
    chapter? If so, why? If not, why not?

    [MT] In one sense I do agree, because
    “experienced reality” is the result of tagging different signal
    patterns in the brain, whereas if there is an external reality,
    whatever it is, it is not signal patterns in the brain. I think
    this is the sense in which Bill said what he says on P39.

    [MT] In another sense, I do not agree, because
    we have no way of knowing whether the reality we experience is or
    is not a faithful representation of some part of what is “out
    there”. It might be, for all we know. What we can know is that
    when we perform some action that we can perceive we have
    performed, and it influences some other perception, we can infer
    that there is something “out there” affected by our action, and
    that something influences our perception. [Aside: this is why I
    disagreed with Bill about the construction of perceptual functions
    being arbitrary, independent of whatever structures are “out
    there”].

  2. Why does Bill prefer the
    analog computer as
    a model for the nervous system over the digital computer?

    For the same reason as he substitutes neural current for a precise
    analysis of neural pulse timing. The underlying basis of the
    digital computer is “on-off”, and he uses an “on-off”
    representation of a neuron as a straw man against which to lean an
    argument about analogue versus digital computation. To me this
    presents a problem, because there is a real argument that I think
    Bill misses. Conceptually, there’s no argument with the fact that
    if you use neural currents as the basic measure of signal
    strength, then you are clearly in the analogue domain, but you
    could develop the neural current idea even if neurons were
    “on-off” flip-flops. To dismiss neural firing and then to complain
    about inaccurate modelling of a neuron is to make a domain error.
    The real issue is that if you simulate the analogue domain
    digitally, you always have a problem with aliases in the signal
    representation. That’s why some people prefer vinyl to digital
    audio recordings. The alias problem can be mitigated by using very
    high sampling rates, but they can’t be eliminated. Bill’s argument
    about whether there is or is not a “state as of now” in a
    complicated network isn’t valid now, if ever it was. Transmission
    lags can be included in a digital simulation, though maybe that
    would have become computationally infeasible quite quickly in

  3. What you can’t avoid is the alias problem. Analogue
    computers do not have that problem.

I hope this is more in line with what you want than my comments on

the earlier chapters were.

Martin

[John Kirkland 2013.07.27]

An exigesis of relevant sections of each targeted chapter via posed questions is appropriate for checking up on a reader’s understandings but for me there remains a different set of ‘problems’. If I might, let me take a few minutes to outline some of these concerns. Of course I am not requesting any commentary about these; but, if this was a seminar they could be additional grist.

For instance:

  1. where is the evidence supporting or refuting Bill’s set of assumptions (aka premises) proposed 40 years ago. I hasten to add this is way outside my knowledge base and thus need to call upon contemporary experts.

  2. The binary/analog distinction appears to be a platform for advocating there’s more on than meets the eye, perhaps presaging an analogy of continuity.

  3. If there is an hierarchical set of sub-systems then are higher level ones contingent upon the arguments proposed for lower-level ones? I’m having trouble reconciling a ‘yes’ answer here when considering von Betrlanaffy’s notion of general systems. Unless, like a tree trunk, perception is the agency for connecting everything. Other analogies come to mind too, like a nervous system.

  4. I am unsure how non-linear models can service conventional logic, along with its concomitant premises, conclusions, arguments and syllogisms. In short, is there possibly a parallel means of explanation which is non-linear? And there may be more than one.

  5. The notion of a ‘sort of existence theorem’ is interesting since it tends to defy a logical system of premises and conclusions; evidence is left in a vague zone of possibility and probability unified by idiosyncratic, personal, unique perceptions.

  6. I am not able to distinguish between the relationship between flicker fusion frequency (the movie film makes discrete units continuous; chopped up pieces appear to merge) and flow (uninterrupted successive continuity). What is the matter here?

  7. Is a reverberating circuit (p. 30) like a tuned resonant circuit? Or is it emphasising the role of an oscillator?

  8. p.32 ‘The added design required to make a complete differentiator is left as an exercise for the reader, being fairly obvious’ - is it achieved by adding another loop? Seriously, I’d like an answer to this one.

  9. The chapter deals with neural currents. In this scenario can one have I without E and R?

  10. I’d be quite willing to accept everything up to Page 34 as an article of faith, which in the absence of other evidence is what it is in any case. And this raises an interesting question, at least for me, ‘What is the evidence?’ Is it anything more than an article of faith? Is it a series of simulations demonstrating working models, the ‘facts’ of the case? Is it a hodge-podge of assembled facets focussing upon a central point (perception) that’s then taken as a conduit of and for understanding? Is it lack of error, like resonance?

  11. ‘That is perception’ is a short-cut for asserting idealism, ironically by table-thumping. And this introduces a particular philosophical stance, which is what this chapter is possibly all about endorsing. I’m consistently surprised how few jay-walking pedestrians are not injured, how many waiting transit passengers don’t continue walking into the path of the transport vehicle, and so on. Of course, I’m merely acknowledging the stone Johnson kicked. But did he understand Berkeley’s point?
    A few quotes (from http://groups.able2know.org/philforum/topic/2995-1 )
    a. Berkeley did not claim the non-existence of
    stones or that kicking a stone will not produce sensation. He claimed the
    rock did not exist apart from the perception of its solidity or the
    perception of pain when struck, and so on.
    b. Berkeley’s idea is that the material world only exists in the mind, so the rock is ideal, but the point is, also is his own foot. I don’t think
    Berkeley’s idea was that everything only exists in the mind, but just everything in the way we experience it exists only in the mind, i.e. a division of phenomena, and noumena, later taken up by Kant.

c. I think all metaphysical world views involve some axiomatic assumptions and independent external reality is the default commonsense, presupposed, hard core assumption with the burden of proof on idealists.

As I recall one of the hallmarks of behaviourists was, ‘It works’; articulated from a realist, practical, functional base. Perhaps this is the challenge to address, at all levels.

I don’t think Bill fell into the idealist trap, he was too wary for that. Hence my general point may be summarised, to misquote Burke, unless we know our history we are doomed to repeat it. It is my view we need to have a working knowledge of the idealist/realist schism. And brushing off the realist perspective is foolhardy. Now, if I was desgning a course…

  1. And, yes, I am most heartened by the summary.

BTW, I do appreciate others’ commentaries to rick’s curly questions.

···

On Sat, Jul 27, 2013 at 5:42 AM, Martin Taylor mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net wrote:

[Martin Taylor 2013.07.26.13.00]

  1.        If all perceptions are “neural
    

currents” then why do all perceptions seem so different from each
other. Why
does the perception of “blue” differ from a perception like
“honesty” if they
are both just the rates of firing of neurons?

  [MT] This question is about the difference between conscious

perception and perceptual signals. More precisely, it concerns the
fact that if there is a real environment such that actions upon it
can influence the values of the differently located perceptual
signals, then different actions have different effects on
different perceptual signals. Technically, those differences need
not be reflected in different qualia, but if there is to be
consciousness that can be in some way used to affect what is and
what is not controlled, then the different controllable
perceptions should be differently tagged in consciousness.
Furthermore, the controllable perceptions that together contribute
to a higher-level controllable perception should be so marked
(tagged) in consciousness. The “tags” are the qualia.

  1.        What is the advantage of the premise
    

that all perceptions are “neural currents”?

[MT] I think one of the most important paragraphs in the book is the

one at the bottom of p23, that starts “The level of detail one
accepts as basic must be consistent with the level of detail in the
phenomena to be described in these basic terms.” If the signal
pathways are physically bunches of parallel neurons, and a
phenomenon have a bandwidth low enough that sufficient neural
impulses will occur in the tract to allow tracing the course of the
highest frequency component of the phenomenon, then it is convenient
and will not affect the results if we consider only the average
rate. Bill does make the point that this is only an approximation,
but to me it is the same approximation as distinguishes chemistry
from atomic physics.

[MT] On p25 Bill makes a related, and perhaps equally important,

point that the linear systems he will be describing are only a
small-signal approximation to what actually happens, and do not
apply when values in a linear system would go negative. This has
often been forgotten in CSGnet discussions of PCT, and it is
important, because when you leave the small-signal domain,
non-linear systems can exhibit quite unexpected behaviour.

  1. Do you agree that
    “experienced reality” is
    different from “a supposed external reality” as Bill says on page
    39 of the
    chapter? If so, why? If not, why not?
  [MT] In one sense I do agree, because

“experienced reality” is the result of tagging different signal
patterns in the brain, whereas if there is an external reality,
whatever it is, it is not signal patterns in the brain. I think
this is the sense in which Bill said what he says on P39.

  [MT] In another sense, I do not agree, because

we have no way of knowing whether the reality we experience is or
is not a faithful representation of some part of what is “out
there”. It might be, for all we know. What we can know is that
when we perform some action that we can perceive we have
performed, and it influences some other perception, we can infer
that there is something “out there” affected by our action, and
that something influences our perception. [Aside: this is why I
disagreed with Bill about the construction of perceptual functions
being arbitrary, independent of whatever structures are “out
there”].

  1. Why does Bill prefer the
    analog computer as
    a model for the nervous system over the digital computer?
  For the same reason as he substitutes neural current for a precise

analysis of neural pulse timing. The underlying basis of the
digital computer is “on-off”, and he uses an “on-off”
representation of a neuron as a straw man against which to lean an
argument about analogue versus digital computation. To me this
presents a problem, because there is a real argument that I think
Bill misses. Conceptually, there’s no argument with the fact that
if you use neural currents as the basic measure of signal
strength, then you are clearly in the analogue domain, but you
could develop the neural current idea even if neurons were
“on-off” flip-flops. To dismiss neural firing and then to complain
about inaccurate modelling of a neuron is to make a domain error.
The real issue is that if you simulate the analogue domain
digitally, you always have a problem with aliases in the signal
representation. That’s why some people prefer vinyl to digital
audio recordings. The alias problem can be mitigated by using very
high sampling rates, but they can’t be eliminated. Bill’s argument
about whether there is or is not a “state as of now” in a
complicated network isn’t valid now, if ever it was. Transmission
lags can be included in a digital simulation, though maybe that
would have become computationally infeasible quite quickly in
1973. What you can’t avoid is the alias problem. Analogue
computers do not have that problem.

I hope this is more in line with what you want than my comments on

the earlier chapters were.

Martin

[David Goldstein (2013.07.26.21:03)]
[John Kirkland 2013.07.27]

John,

I was looking for your answers to the “curly” questions. Did I miss them?

By the way, I have to take the blame for
these particular “curly” questions.

As I said to Martin, the goal of the course is to help us all understand what Bill said.

Perhaps, a neuroscience person on the list can answer some of your question about contemporary evidence in support of the premises in this chapter.

When I looked up the definition of premise on the internet, it said:

"prem·ise (prms)

n. also prem·iss (prms)
1. A proposition upon which an argument is based or from which a conclusion is drawn.

2. Logic
a. One of the propositions in a deductive argument.

b. Either the major or the minor proposition of a syllogism, from which the conclusion is
drawn.

3. premises Law The preliminary or explanatory statements or facts of a document, as in a deed.

4. premises
a. Land and the buildings on it.

b. A building or part of a building.

v. prem·ised, prem·is·ing, prem·is·es

*v.*tr.
1. To state in advance as an introduction or explanation.

2. To state or assume as a proposition in an argument.

*v.*intr.
To make a premise."

I think that Bill emphasizes the fact that the experienced world seems continuous, stable, and there, at least when we are awake.
An analog computer model for our nervous system
seemed more consistent for Bill with this experience than a digital computer model.
Also, an analog computer model for the nervous system was more compatible with the fact of control, which is the major phenomenon that he is trying to explain.

If we actually make this into an online, internet course, maybe we can have comments like yours, and those of Martin, in a separate section having to do with
issues and concerns raised by people friendly to PCT.

David

···

From: John Kirkland johnkirkland@GMAIL.COM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Sent: Friday, July 26, 2013 5:31 PM
Subject: Re: B:CP Course Study Guide Ch. 3 Premises

[John Kirkland 2013.07.27]

An exigesis of relevant sections of each targeted chapter via posed questions is appropriate for checking up on a reader’s understandings but for me there remains a different set of ‘problems’. If I might, let me take a few minutes to outline some of these concerns. Of course I am not requesting any commentary about these; but, if this was a seminar they could be additional grist.

For instance:

  1. where is the evidence supporting or refuting Bill’s set of assumptions (aka premises) proposed 40 years ago. I hasten to add this is way outside my knowledge base and thus need to call upon contemporary experts.

  2. The binary/analog distinction appears to be a platform for advocating there’s more on than meets the eye, perhaps presaging an analogy of continuity.

  3. If there is an hierarchical set of sub-systems then are higher level ones contingent upon the arguments proposed for lower-level ones? I’m having trouble reconciling a ‘yes’ answer here when considering von Betrlanaffy’s notion of general systems. Unless, like a tree trunk, perception is the agency for connecting everything. Other analogies come to mind too, like a nervous system.

  4. I am unsure how non-linear models can service conventional logic, along with its concomitant premises, conclusions, arguments and syllogisms. In short, is there possibly a parallel means of explanation which is non-linear? And there may be more than one.

  5. The notion of a ‘sort of existence theorem’ is interesting since it tends to defy a logical system of premises and conclusions; evidence is left in a vague zone of possibility and probability unified by idiosyncratic, personal, unique perceptions.

  6. I am not able to distinguish between the relationship between flicker fusion frequency (the movie film makes discrete units continuous; chopped up pieces appear to merge) and flow (uninterrupted successive continuity). What is the matter here?

  7. Is a reverberating circuit (p. 30) like a tuned resonant circuit? Or is it emphasising the role of an oscillator?

  8. p.32 ‘The added design required to make a complete differentiator is left as an exercise for the reader, being fairly obvious’ - is it achieved by adding another loop? Seriously, I’d like an answer to this one.

  9. The chapter deals with neural currents. In this scenario can one have I without E and R?

  10. I’d be quite willing to accept everything up to Page 34 as an article of faith, which in the absence of other evidence is what it is in any case. And this raises an interesting question, at least for me, ‘What is the evidence?’ Is it anything more than an article of faith? Is it a series of simulations demonstrating working models, the ‘facts’ of the case? Is it a hodge-podge of assembled facets focussing upon a central point (perception) that’s then taken as a conduit of and for understanding? Is it lack of error, like resonance?

  11. ‘That is perception’ is a short-cut for asserting idealism, ironically by table-thumping. And this introduces a particular philosophical stance, which is what this chapter is possibly all about endorsing. I’m consistently surprised how few jay-walking pedestrians are not injured, how many waiting transit passengers don’t continue walking into the path of the transport vehicle, and so on. Of course, I’m merely acknowledging the stone Johnson kicked. But did he understand Berkeley’s point?
    A few quotes (from Did Samuel Johnson REFUTE Berkeley )
    a. Berkeley did not claim the non-existence of
    stones or that kicking a stone will not produce sensation. He claimed the
    rock did not exist apart from the perception of its solidity or the
    perception of pain when struck, and so on.
    b. Berkeley’s idea is that the material world only exists in the mind, so the rock is ideal, but the point is, also is his own foot. I don’t think
    Berkeley’s idea was that everything only exists in the mind, but just everything in the way we experience it exists only in the mind, i.e. a division of phenomena, and noumena, later taken up by Kant.

c. I think all metaphysical world views involve some axiomatic assumptions and independent external reality is the default commonsense, presupposed, hard core assumption with the burden of proof on idealists.

As I recall one of the hallmarks of behaviourists was, ‘It works’; articulated from a realist, practical, functional base. Perhaps this is the challenge to address, at all levels.

I don’t think Bill fell into the idealist trap, he was too wary for that. Hence my general point may be summarised, to misquote Burke, unless we know our history we are doomed to repeat it. It is my view we need to have a working knowledge of the idealist/realist schism. And brushing off the realist perspective is foolhardy. Now, if I was desgning a course…

  1. And, yes, I am most heartened by the summary.

BTW, I do appreciate others’ commentaries to rick’s curly questions.

On Sat, Jul 27, 2013 at 5:42 AM, Martin Taylor mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net wrote:

[Martin Taylor 2013.07.26.13.00]

  1.        If all perceptions are “neural
    

currents� then why do all perceptions seem so different from each
other. Why
does the perception of “blue� differ from a perception like
“honesty� if they
are both just the rates of firing of neurons?

  [MT] This question is about the difference between conscious

perception and perceptual signals. More precisely, it concerns the
fact that if there is a real environment such that actions upon it
can influence the values of the differently located perceptual
signals, then different actions have different effects on
different perceptual signals. Technically, those differences need
not be reflected in different qualia, but if there is to be
consciousness that can be in some way used to affect what is and
what is not controlled, then the different controllable
perceptions should be differently tagged in consciousness.
Furthermore, the controllable perceptions that together contribute
to a higher-level controllable perception should be so marked
(tagged) in consciousness. The “tags” are the qualia.

  1.        What is the advantage of the premise
    

that all perceptions are “neural currents�?

[MT] I think one of the most important paragraphs in the book is the

one at the bottom of p23, that starts “The level of detail one
accepts as basic must be consistent with the level of detail in the
phenomena to be described in these basic terms.” If the signal
pathways are physically bunches of parallel neurons, and a
phenomenon have a bandwidth low enough that sufficient neural
impulses will occur in the tract to allow tracing the course of the
highest frequency component of the phenomenon, then it is convenient
and will not affect the results if we consider only the average
rate. Bill does make the point that this is only an approximation,
but to me it is the same approximation as distinguishes chemistry
from atomic physics.

[MT] On p25 Bill makes a related, and perhaps equally important,

point that the linear systems he will be describing are only a
small-signal approximation to what actually happens, and do not
apply when values in a linear system would go negative. This has
often been forgotten in CSGnet discussions of PCT, and it is
important, because when you leave the small-signal domain,
non-linear systems can exhibit quite unexpected behaviour.

  1. Do you agree that
    “experienced reality� is
    different from “a supposed external reality� as Bill says on page
    39 of the
    chapter? If so, why? If not, why not?
  [MT] In one sense I do agree, because

“experienced reality” is the result of tagging different signal
patterns in the brain, whereas if there is an external reality,
whatever it is, it is not signal patterns in the brain. I think
this is the sense in which Bill said what he says on P39.

  [MT] In another sense, I do not agree, because

we have no way of knowing whether the reality we experience is or
is not a faithful representation of some part of what is “out
there”. It might be, for all we know. What we can know is that
when we perform some action that we can perceive we have
performed, and it influences some other perception, we can infer
that there is something “out there” affected by our action, and
that something influences our perception. [Aside: this is why I
disagreed with Bill about the construction of perceptual functions
being arbitrary, independent of whatever structures are “out
there”].

  1. Why does Bill prefer the
    analog computer as
    a model for the nervous system over the digital computer?
  For the same reason as he substitutes neural current for a precise

analysis of neural pulse timing. The underlying basis of the
digital computer is “on-off”, and he uses an “on-off”
representation of a neuron as a straw man against which to lean an
argument about analogue versus digital computation. To me this
presents a problem, because there is a real argument that I think
Bill misses. Conceptually, there’s no argument with the fact that
if you use neural currents as the basic measure of signal
strength, then you are clearly in the analogue domain, but you
could develop the neural current idea even if neurons were
“on-off” flip-flops. To dismiss neural firing and then to complain
about inaccurate modelling of a neuron is to make a domain error.
The real issue is that if you simulate the analogue domain
digitally, you always have a problem with aliases in the signal
representation. That’s why some people prefer vinyl to digital
audio recordings. The alias problem can be mitigated by using very
high sampling rates, but they can’t be eliminated. Bill’s argument
about whether there is or is not a “state as of now” in a
complicated network isn’t valid now, if ever it was. Transmission
lags can be included in a digital simulation, though maybe that
would have become computationally infeasible quite quickly in
1973. What you can’t avoid is the alias problem. Analogue
computers do not have that problem.

I hope this is more in line with what you want than my comments on

the earlier chapters were.

Martin

Er no David, I’ve been remiss with respect to answering study guide questions.

I’ll continue to chug along chipping in with a few comments for possible use in future course supplements.

You’ve garnered some useful replies and I appreciate receiving the mini-reviews too.

In appreciation

JohnK

···

On Sat, Jul 27, 2013 at 1:25 PM, D GOLDSTEIN davidmg@verizon.net wrote:

[David Goldstein (2013.07.26.21:03)]
[John Kirkland 2013.07.27]

John,

I was looking for your answers to the “curly” questions. Did I miss them?

By the way, I have to take the blame for
these particular “curly” questions.

As I said to Martin, the goal of the course is to help us all understand what Bill said.

Perhaps, a neuroscience person on the list can answer some of your question about contemporary evidence in support of the premises in this chapter.

When I looked up the definition of premise on the internet, it said:

"prem·ise (prms)

n. also prem·iss (prms)
1. A proposition upon which an argument is based or from which a conclusion is drawn.

2. Logic
a. One of the propositions in a deductive argument.

b. Either the major or the minor proposition of a syllogism, from which the conclusion is
drawn.

3. premises Law The preliminary or explanatory statements or facts of a document, as in a deed.

4. premises
a. Land and the buildings on it.

b. A building or part of a building.

v. prem·ised, prem·is·ing, prem·is·es

*v.*tr.
1. To state in advance as an introduction or explanation.

2. To state or assume as a proposition in an argument.

*v.*intr.
To make a premise."

I think that Bill emphasizes the fact that the experienced world seems continuous, stable, and there, at least when we are awake.

An analog computer model for our nervous system
seemed more consistent for Bill with this experience than a digital computer model.
Also, an analog computer model for the nervous system was more compatible with the fact of control, which is the major phenomenon that he is trying to explain.

If we actually make this into an online, internet course, maybe we can have comments like yours, and those of Martin, in a separate section having to do with
issues and concerns raised by people friendly to PCT.

David


From: John Kirkland johnkirkland@GMAIL.COM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Sent: Friday, July 26, 2013 5:31 PM
Subject: Re: B:CP Course Study Guide Ch. 3 Premises

[John Kirkland 2013.07.27]

An exigesis of relevant sections of each targeted chapter via posed questions is appropriate for checking up on a reader’s understandings but for me there remains a different set of ‘problems’. If I might, let me take a few minutes to outline some of these concerns. Of course I am not requesting any commentary about these; but, if this was a seminar they could be additional grist.

For instance:

  1. where is the evidence supporting or refuting Bill’s set of assumptions (aka premises) proposed 40 years ago. I hasten to add this is way outside my knowledge base and thus need to call upon contemporary experts.
  1. The binary/analog distinction appears to be a platform for advocating there’s more on than meets the eye, perhaps presaging an analogy of continuity.
  1. If there is an hierarchical set of sub-systems then are higher level ones contingent upon the arguments proposed for lower-level ones? I’m having trouble reconciling a ‘yes’ answer here when considering von Betrlanaffy’s notion of general systems. Unless, like a tree trunk, perception is the agency for connecting everything. Other analogies come to mind too, like a nervous system.
  1. I am unsure how non-linear models can service conventional logic, along with its concomitant premises, conclusions, arguments and syllogisms. In short, is there possibly a parallel means of explanation which is non-linear? And there may be more than one.
  1. The notion of a ‘sort of existence theorem’ is interesting since it tends to defy a logical system of premises and conclusions; evidence is left in a vague zone of possibility and probability unified by idiosyncratic, personal, unique perceptions.
  1. I am not able to distinguish between the relationship between flicker fusion frequency (the movie film makes discrete units continuous; chopped up pieces appear to merge) and flow (uninterrupted successive continuity). What is the matter here?
  1. Is a reverberating circuit (p. 30) like a tuned resonant circuit? Or is it emphasising the role of an oscillator?
  1. p.32 ‘The added design required to make a complete differentiator is left as an exercise for the reader, being fairly obvious’ - is it achieved by adding another loop? Seriously, I’d like an answer to this one.
  1. The chapter deals with neural currents. In this scenario can one have I without E and R?
  1. I’d be quite willing to accept everything up to Page 34 as an article of faith, which in the absence of other evidence is what it is in any case. And this raises an interesting question, at least for me, ‘What is the evidence?’ Is it anything more than an article of faith? Is it a series of simulations demonstrating working models, the ‘facts’ of the case? Is it a hodge-podge of assembled facets focussing upon a central point (perception) that’s then taken as a conduit of and for understanding? Is it lack of error, like resonance?
  1. ‘That is perception’ is a short-cut for asserting idealism, ironically by table-thumping. And this introduces a particular philosophical stance, which is what this chapter is possibly all about endorsing. I’m consistently surprised how few jay-walking pedestrians are not injured, how many waiting transit passengers don’t continue walking into the path of the transport vehicle, and so on. Of course, I’m merely acknowledging the stone Johnson kicked. But did he understand Berkeley’s point?
    A few quotes (from http://groups.able2know.org/philforum/topic/2995-1 )
    a. Berkeley did not claim the non-existence of
    stones or that kicking a stone will not produce sensation. He claimed the
    rock did not exist apart from the perception of its solidity or the
    perception of pain when struck, and so on.
    b. Berkeley’s idea is that the material world only exists in the mind, so the rock is ideal, but the point is, also is his own foot. I don’t think
    Berkeley’s idea was that everything only exists in the mind, but just everything in the way we experience it exists only in the mind, i.e. a division of phenomena, and noumena, later taken up by Kant.

c. I think all metaphysical world views involve some axiomatic assumptions and independent external reality is the default commonsense, presupposed, hard core assumption with the burden of proof on idealists.

As I recall one of the hallmarks of behaviourists was, ‘It works’; articulated from a realist, practical, functional base. Perhaps this is the challenge to address, at all levels.

I don’t think Bill fell into the idealist trap, he was too wary for that. Hence my general point may be summarised, to misquote Burke, unless we know our history we are doomed to repeat it. It is my view we need to have a working knowledge of the idealist/realist schism. And brushing off the realist perspective is foolhardy. Now, if I was desgning a course…

  1. And, yes, I am most heartened by the summary.

BTW, I do appreciate others’ commentaries to rick’s curly questions.

On Sat, Jul 27, 2013 at 5:42 AM, Martin Taylor mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net wrote:

[Martin Taylor 2013.07.26.13.00]

  1.        If all perceptions are “neural
    

currents” then why do all perceptions seem so different from each
other. Why
does the perception of “blue” differ from a perception like
“honesty” if they
are both just the rates of firing of neurons?

  [MT] This question is about the difference between conscious

perception and perceptual signals. More precisely, it concerns the
fact that if there is a real environment such that actions upon it
can influence the values of the differently located perceptual
signals, then different actions have different effects on
different perceptual signals. Technically, those differences need
not be reflected in different qualia, but if there is to be
consciousness that can be in some way used to affect what is and
what is not controlled, then the different controllable
perceptions should be differently tagged in consciousness.
Furthermore, the controllable perceptions that together contribute
to a higher-level controllable perception should be so marked
(tagged) in consciousness. The “tags” are the qualia.

  1.        What is the advantage of the premise
    

that all perceptions are “neural currents”?

[MT] I think one of the most important paragraphs in the book is the

one at the bottom of p23, that starts “The level of detail one
accepts as basic must be consistent with the level of detail in the
phenomena to be described in these basic terms.” If the signal
pathways are physically bunches of parallel neurons, and a
phenomenon have a bandwidth low enough that sufficient neural
impulses will occur in the tract to allow tracing the course of the
highest frequency component of the phenomenon, then it is convenient
and will not affect the results if we consider only the average
rate. Bill does make the point that this is only an approximation,
but to me it is the same approximation as distinguishes chemistry
from atomic physics.

[MT] On p25 Bill makes a related, and perhaps equally important,

point that the linear systems he will be describing are only a
small-signal approximation to what actually happens, and do not
apply when values in a linear system would go negative. This has
often been forgotten in CSGnet discussions of PCT, and it is
important, because when you leave the small-signal domain,
non-linear systems can exhibit quite unexpected behaviour.

  1. Do you agree that
    “experienced reality” is
    different from “a supposed external reality” as Bill says on page
    39 of the
    chapter? If so, why? If not, why not?
  [MT] In one sense I do agree, because

“experienced reality” is the result of tagging different signal
patterns in the brain, whereas if there is an external reality,
whatever it is, it is not signal patterns in the brain. I think
this is the sense in which Bill said what he says on P39.

  [MT] In another sense, I do not agree, because

we have no way of knowing whether the reality we experience is or
is not a faithful representation of some part of what is “out
there”. It might be, for all we know. What we can know is that
when we perform some action that we can perceive we have
performed, and it influences some other perception, we can infer
that there is something “out there” affected by our action, and
that something influences our perception. [Aside: this is why I
disagreed with Bill about the construction of perceptual functions
being arbitrary, independent of whatever structures are “out
there”].

  1. Why does Bill prefer the
    analog computer as
    a model for the nervous system over the digital computer?
  For the same reason as he substitutes neural current for a precise

analysis of neural pulse timing. The underlying basis of the
digital computer is “on-off”, and he uses an “on-off”
representation of a neuron as a straw man against which to lean an
argument about analogue versus digital computation. To me this
presents a problem, because there is a real argument that I think
Bill misses. Conceptually, there’s no argument with the fact that
if you use neural currents as the basic measure of signal
strength, then you are clearly in the analogue domain, but you
could develop the neural current idea even if neurons were
“on-off” flip-flops. To dismiss neural firing and then to complain
about inaccurate modelling of a neuron is to make a domain error.
The real issue is that if you simulate the analogue domain
digitally, you always have a problem with aliases in the signal
representation. That’s why some people prefer vinyl to digital
audio recordings. The alias problem can be mitigated by using very
high sampling rates, but they can’t be eliminated. Bill’s argument
about whether there is or is not a “state as of now” in a
complicated network isn’t valid now, if ever it was. Transmission
lags can be included in a digital simulation, though maybe that
would have become computationally infeasible quite quickly in
1973. What you can’t avoid is the alias problem. Analogue
computers do not have that problem.

I hope this is more in line with what you want than my comments on

the earlier chapters were.

Martin