NYTimes.com: Cells That Read Minds...REMARKABLE

[From: Paule Steichen Asch (2006.14]


----- Original Message -----
From: "Rick Marken" <marken@MINDREADINGS.COM>
Sent: Friday, January 13, 2006 8:29 PM
Subject: Re: NYTimes.com: Cells That Read Minds

[From Rick Marken (2006.01.13.1730)]

> Bruce Nevin (2006.01.13.1959 EST)
> That's assuming that there is one and only one way to construct a
> perception that for the organism represents the intention of the other.

I think you're replying to me. No, what I said does not assume that. It
assumes that the researches were talking about cells that respond
differently to intentional and unintentional behavior.

> Doing the test for controlled variables is the only correct way that we
> know, the only basis for a scientific investigation of intention. A
> part
> of that methodology, we are very careful (or should be) to avoid
> projecting our expectations of what we would do if we were that other.
> We must compensate for our very natural anthropomorphizing of animals
> and, shall we say, "personomorphizing" of other people. We have to
> resist these intrusions of inappropriate subjectivity into the
> objective
> procedures of science.
> But what is it that we are resisting? (And properly so.) Does it not
> amount to constructing perceptions, however inaccurate and fallible
> they
> may be, of the perceptions of others? It is this, I believe, that
> Martin
> is talking about.

If so then he is talking about something different that what the
researchers were talking about. What you are describing here is cells
that perceive intentionality (a relationship level perception, at
least), whether the behavior perceived was actually intentional or not.
  I would guess that there are such cells to be found because, as you
note, we perceive intentionality in behavior whether or not the
behavior was actually intentional. For example, I've sometimes
perceived the actions of the wind as intentional when I was trying to
read papers outside. But the researchers are saying, not that the cells
are constructing perceptions of intention (whether or not the action
perceived is _actually_ intentional). They say specifically that these
cells "fire in response to chains of actions linked to intentions". In
other words, these cells differentially respond to intentional vs
unintentional actions in the same way that some cells respond
differentially to long vs short wavelength light.

> It is this construction of perceptions -- perception
> of other, perception of other's perception of the environment as we
> perceive it, perception of other's perception of ourselves, perception
> of other's intention -- that we share with some animals, with people
> untutored in PCT, and also with people who are expert in PCT
> (obviously,
> or there would be no need to resist them and compensate for them).

I agree. And I believe that there must, then, be afferent neurons, at
high levels in the nervous system, that carry signals that are
perceptions of intentionality. But I don't believe (as the researchers
do) that our perceptions of intentionality are "veridical".

> These
> constructed perceptions are unreliable, incomplete, blinkered by
> limitations of knowledge, presupposition, expectation, and prejudice,
> they are unscientific and unsuitable for building a science, but they
> are absolutely appropriate subject matter for PCT.

Of course. But the conclusion of the researchers -- that they have
found cells that detect intentionality (that they are cells that read
minds) -- is almost certainly incorrect. And it's incorrect because
they don't know what intentionality _is_.



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