Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sources of Driving Functions

Can they depend on time or timing or time dependant phenomenon? For example: How long it takes for recognition to occur? Can they be aspects of the memory trace or the lack of counter evidence in other memory traces? I am very certain about my name, I am currently certain now about the time of day, the year, perhaps many other things. What is the nature of this psychological. which is to say, physiological, certainty? What is the driving function if I assert, or acknowledge, certainty here?

Notice that I cam assert the certainty or merely acknowledge it. Is this the same process, the same driving functions with just potentially variable output states? Is the driving function mnemonic or something else? Am I certain about my name because no one has ever suggested that it is something else? Is their a “doubt” state or process and is my confidence in a proposition a result a low level of activity somewhere or a greatly reduced state of doubt?

I wonder sometimes about the possibility of a post economic society, one in which money is no longer relevant. This doesn’t seem quite possible to me, not everyone can have a house in Malibu or an original Picasso, so it seems we would have to retain some measure of value or a means of exchange. On the other hand, how can we know what the world will be like 1000 years hence, or 10,000 years from now? Doubts both ways? What is the nature of these doubts? There seems to be a feeling associated with them. What is it, anxiety, a fear of being wrong?

Meaning: The Strawman

Do we suppose that when we learn a language we learn the meanings of words? Meanings are sometimes given explicitly as when we define words for children, e.g., answer the question “What does X mean”?. But most of the words we learn are not learned through explicit definition. Does a word have to have a meaning (or a referent) to be comprehended or used successfully? Are meanings what makes language work? Many analysts of linguistic behavior seem to suggest that this is the case. Let us call this the simplified strawman theory of meaning. (SSTM)

Is it supposed that words without specific referents must have meanings and that these meanings are somehow formulated and internalized when we learn a language and serve as determinants of semantic aspects of linguistic behavior. Somehow, evidently, we are suppose to abstract the meanings of non-referential words and utilize these meaning things in our subsequent linguistic behavior. But maybe e just rely on multiple exposures to a word, numerous instantiations of correct usage and base subsequent performance on this.

Monday, April 7, 2008

What is Philosophy?

As noted before, on the surface we are doing psychology, not philosophy, because we seem to be concerned with cause not reasons or justification. This is wrong because we are concerned ultimately with the consequences, the meaning, the significance of what we now know to be the cognitive psychology of human agents. We are concerned with the implications of this psychology, not of the specific content. If you ignore human psychology, human capacities and limitations then you are doing something other than human philosophy. There may be a more generic philosophy of agents, but we can’t do it yet.

Human philosophy is exhausted by the possibilities of human cognitive psychology. If there is no ghost in the machine then we are left with only the mechanics of the machine and that is the end of it. Once you reject the ghost you must acknowledge the limits. This has not yet been done, it is what we are trying to do. We cannot escape with the normative escalation because this is still subject to the theory of limits. The desirable must include or is limited by the possible. Similarly the theory of philosophy as meaning, as referents of universal terms, of conceptual analysis, all must be based on what are cognitive capabilities really are.

The dogmas of meaning are probably especially important to consider here. The idea that meaning is essential to language, that meaning is what is important, what is to be analyzed or discovered ignore the fact that meaning is a theoretical term that has no known experimental referent in cognitive psychology. Meaning is what we say its all about, what it is really, however, is process. Meaning has become the cover term, the mask, the mystery for and about our cognitive functions, the modern philosophical equivalent of coloricfluid or the physicist’s ether.

What is the case, what ought to be the case. The universe of possible discourse outside the area of purely formal systems like logic or mathematics is pretty well exhausted by these two possibilities.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Advancing the Theory of Driving Functions

How is it possible to answer a question like “Do you hear anything?’ We can imagine a test in which a screen flashes this question to a subject wearing headphones who is suppose to press a button, yes or no. This audiologist test does not require that the sound be identified, only that the subject knows that there is a detectible sound. His responses then are not being determined by a recognition network but by some network capable of determining the level of activity in the auditory cortex, let us assume. We can imagine other minimal level of stimulus tests for the other sensory modalities as well. How is a driving function generated in situations like this?

Consider also responses determined by quantitative variations in the stimulus. How do we know, which is to say : How can we say…that the amplitude of a stimulus has changed even if the stimulus has no name, does not trigger a particular recognition network? Perhaps this reflects some pattern of activity in the sensory organs, something is switched on or off as the quantity of stimulus changes. But we can probably judge variations. Values along a continuum as well, so on/off theories are problematic. We imagine we can do this for stimuli which are not dangerous or painful so that protection mechanisms are not triggered.

There is no reason to think a priori that only specific stimuli or memories can serve as driving functions. We note here that driving functions are convenient abstractions or simplifications, macroscopic summations on microscopic events, somewhat analogous to Newtonian forces. Consider a pressure or impact force in Newtonian mechanics, they are summations of the large numbers of electro-magnetic the point(s) of contact. Newtonian forces are somewhat of a fiction. Driving functions are more real.

Epistemic Processes

In what sense, to what degree can our cognitive processes be said to differ from the fundamental information processing operations in the brain. Finally, after all, this is what is driving the response networks, these operations are the source of the driving functions. Is cognition nothing more than reduction and summation? Is this confusing the media with the message, the process with the product? Are these anything more than modes of transmission, principles of conduction?

Finally, we need a theory of cognitive affect. The affect for the subject effect, i.e., cognitive behavior. These would have to be sensory states, states of the sensory processing systems and other states of the CNS not currently known. Certainly our emotional states are elements here. We also need a theory of a” truth value” state. What is it that determines whether or not I regard a proposition as true? Is this anything more than an emotional tag associated with the content of the proposition? Positive for true, negative for false? How do they acquire these tags? I believe 2 + 2 = 4 but I’m not emotionally involved with the issue. But I’m upset if someone denies it, generally- maybe this is the clue.

Terms like “knowing”, “ understanding”,” believing” also have driving functions which are difficult to discern but which must finally come down to some system operation, perhaps not currently identifiable. Here’s what’s going on: We have at some output stage, say the premotor cortex, a network, an engram which if activated, driven by the appropriate sort of neurological activity will generate a particular element of behavior. I deny, agree, say “I don’t know”, whatever. The question is: What can I use to drive this response network, and what difference does it make?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Theory of Judgment

Predication, truth values, all judgments or reflections of knowledge or opinion are determined internally unless we are responding to an immediate sensory experience in which case the information in our response is determined by the sensory information. What’s happening in these other cases? In these other cases, justification for our judgments can have many forms and involve many reasons, ideas, thoughts, recollections etc., but they all have one thing in common, they are determined by our internal neurological states. Sometimes these states are determined by prior immediate sense experience, sometimes not. In all cases we can seek to determine the information contained in the behavior and determine its ultimate source. Frequently these will be auditory recollections, their remnants or related neurological phenomenon. Much of what we say is determined only by what we have heard before, novelty is difficult and rare.

We tend to think our judgments are determined by some other process, something deep and “cognitive”, something more than acquiescent recollection. But what evidence do we have for this? If I acknowledge that “Democracy is the best form of government..” is this because at the time of the acknowledgement I have reviewed all other forms and calculated their relative desirability. But is their really time for this?. Perhaps I have thought about this before and come to this decision and my current judgment is a reflection of these past efforts. More likely this is a reflection of an unconsidered but internalized prejudice. Is the linguistic history of an individual typically the result of informed, reasoned opinion at the time of performance or something else? What can this something else be?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Intelligence as Reactive Behavior

So, the difference between programmed and unprogrammed action is in reactivity. It is not behavioral change simpliciter, because programming can change behavior, over time intervals for example. It is behavioral change caused by changes in the external situation, (external to the behavior generating component) but not just by any aspect of the external change. Plants can change their growing patterns because of changes in the environment, if we fertilize them for example. .I can be walking along and fall into a hole, these are not intelligent reactions to the external world, they are mechanical or biochemical reactions. Reactive, information based, behavior is required for intelligence. But is this enough? Clearly not, my computer meets this standard, and it does not seem at all intelligent..

Is motive, intention, desire required for intelligent behavior? We think these half the causal nexus for human action, some of the non-specific excitation required for behavior. What do or would non- biological system, putative agents, require? Syntactic behavior at least requires a plan, a model or some other overall control or directive to determine the course of the behavior. It would seem generally to require some representation or formulation of an end state, though whether or not his is a goal is another question. If the behavior has no end state marker or criteria then it goes on forever until the system fails or runs out of energy. It could have a mechanical stop, the arm pushes out until it reaches a wall for example. But purely mechanical limits on behavior would tend to put it out of the cognitive realm.

So the first component of the external analysis of the concept of intelligence or since it is an external judgment , of intelligent behavior, is the bifurcation between the internal and the external, where the external is not necessarily the external world but rather the world external to the supposed cognitive unit of the system under consideration. The behavior must be reactive and reactive in an information sensitive manner. Secondly the behavior must be end state determinate, even if that end state is a continuous ongoing process or condition. What else is required? Variability, if you can only do one thing you aren’t or al least need not be very smart.