Monday, January 11, 2021

2/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (13-17)

https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00577


This is the second installation of Hoffman/Prakash’s responses which are attached to their 2014 Objects of Consciousness paper, specifically #13 to #17.  I haven't changed any of their words, simply added my two cents worth.

I don’t pretend to be any sort of scholar or self made expert, not even, this is a student’s exploration and discovery.  Something to share with other interested students.  Since I like homework more than most, I don’t mind sharing the fruits of my hours' worth of effort. 

I want to make my trail of discovery and adventures in critical thinking available to others with whom these themes resonate - especially those who also possess a desire to defend serious science against the current onslaught of strategic deception for fun, power and profit. 


Objections and Replies (13-17 of 21)


Hoffman:  Here we summarize helpful feedback from readers of earlier drafts, in the form of objections and replies.

Cc:  The objections are printed in blue, author’s responses in mauve, my comments in dark green.  Supplementary information is clearly marked.  Most titles are linked to original sources.

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Some Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception


Perceptual Systems, Historical Background, Innate And Learned Classical perceptual phenomena, Broad theoretical approaches, Current research/future developments.

Sources, science.jrank.org

Ecological approaches to perceptual learning: learning to perceive and perceiving as learning

Agnes Szokolszky, Catherine Read, Zsolt Palatinus, et al., 2019

The Essential Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception

Eric P. Charles, 2017,

The evolution of early symbolic behavior in Homo sapiens

Kristian Tylén, Riccardo Fusaroli, Sergio Rojo, et al. PNAS 2020

The Evolution and Fossil History of Sensory Perception in Amniote Vertebrates

doi.org/10.1146/annurev-earth-082517-010120, March 21, 2018 

Evolutionary Specialization of Tactile Perception in Vertebrates

Eve R. Schneider, Elena O. Gracheva, and Slav N. Bagriantsev, 2016

Evolutionary Psychology and the Emotions

Leda Cosmides & John Tooby, Handbook of Emotions, 2000

The evolution of modern human brain shape

Simon Neubauer, Jean-Jacques Hublin and Philipp Gunz, 2018:

Intrinsic Multiperspectivity: Conceptual Forms and the Functional Architecture of the Perceptual System

Rainer Mausfeld, PhD.

Perceptual Worlds and Sensory Ecology

By: Stephen Burnett, PhD, Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):75

Ch.17. A Hierarchical Model of the Evolution of Human Brain Specializations

H. CLARK BARRETT.

Surroundings and Evolution Shape Human Sight, Smell and Taste

by: Andrea Korte, February 19, 2017

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(13) In section Evolution and Perception, the authors' argument seems to be: Argument 1: (1) Natural selection favors fitness in perceptual systems. (2) Fitness is incompatible with truth. (3) Therefore, natural selection favors perceptions that do not see truth in whole or in part.

With some minor tweaking, Argument 1 can be made valid. But premise 2 is completely implausible. If a tiger is charging you with lunch on his mind, truth works in the service of fitness. (The authors' treatment here raises the question of why we have perceptual systems at all and not just kaleidoscope eyes. They never address this.)

The authors would object that premise 2 is too strong. They don't subscribe to premise 2, they would say. They would perhaps hold out for Argument 2:

Argument 2: (1) Natural selection favors fitness in perceptual systems. (2) Fitness need not always coincide with truth. (3) Therefore, natural selection favors perceptions that do not see truth in whole or in part.

But Argument 2 is not valid and not tweakable into a valid argument. The conclusion is a lot stronger than the premises.

Worse, any weaker premise doesn't give the authors their needed/wanted radical thesis: Perception is not about truth, it is about having kids. Which they insist must be interpreted as Perception is never about truth, but about having kids. But this interpretation is obviously false. For one thing, if an ancient ancestor of ours (call her, Ug) is successful in having kids, she needs to know the truth: that she has kids! Why? Because Ug needs to take care of them!

Hoffman:  We do not use either argument. We simply use Monte Carlo simulations of evolutionary games and genetic algorithms to study the evolution of perceptual strategies (as discussed in Objection 12). 

We find, empirically, that strategies tuned to truth almost always go extinct, or never even arise, in hundreds of thousands of randomly chosen worlds.

The key to understanding this finding is the distinction between fitness and truth. 

If W denotes the objective world (i.e., the truth), O denotes an organism, S the state of that organism, and A an action of that organism, then one can describe fitness as a function f:W × O × S × A

In other words, fitness depends not only on the objective truth W, but also on the organism, its state and the action. Thus, fitness and truth are quite distinct. 

In mathematics, a monotonic function is a function between ordered sets that preserves or reverses the given order. This concept first arose in calculus, and was later generalized to the more abstract setting of order theory.

Only if the fitness function happens to be a monotonic function of some structure in W, i.e., so that truth and fitness happen to coincide, will natural selection allow a truth strategy to survive. In the generic case, where truth and fitness diverge, natural selection sends truth strategies to extinction.

To phrase this as an argument of the kind given in the objection we would have Argument 3: (1) Natural selection favors fitness in perceptual systems. (2) Truth generically diverges from fitness. (3) Therefore, natural selection generically favors perceptions that diverge from the truth.

Citizenschallenge:  Arguably logical, but is it rational?  

Are behaviors within our biosphere simply being “preserved or reversed” or is more going on?  Action driving change is a constant with all its cascading bifurcation’s, nothing ever returns to where it began.  No two hunts, or foraging expeditions, or generations, are ever the same. 

A reminder, Hoffman’s Evolutionary Dynamics are reduced to the simplicity of a binary computer game unfolding within a rigid idealized mathematical universe. 

It’s fine for what it is - but to make sweeping dismissals regarding scientists understanding of the state of our physical reality, that’s too far, almost messianic some could infer.

DH:  The word generically here is a technical term. Some property holds generically if it holds everywhere except on a set of measure zero. So, for instance, the cartesian coordinates (x, y) of a point in the plane generically have a non-zero y coordinate. Here we are assuming an unbiased (i.e., uniform) measure on the plane, in which the measure of a set is proportional to its area. Since the set of points with a zero y coordinate is the x-axis line, and since lines have no area, it follows that generically a point in the plane has a non-zero y coordinate. Note, however, that there are infinitely many points with a zero y coordinate, even though this property is non-generic.

Reducing evolution down to geometry?

DH:  So our argument is that, for an appropriate unbiased measure, fitness functions generically diverge from truth, and thus natural selection generically favors perceptions that diverge from truth. This does not entail the stronger conclusion that natural selection never favors truth. That conclusion is indeed stronger than our premises and stronger than required for the interface theory of perception. Perhaps H. sapiens is lucky and certain aspects of our perceptual evolution has been shaped by a non-generic fitness function that does not diverge from truth. In this case some aspects of our perceptions might be shaped to accurately report the truth, in the same sense that your lottery ticket might be the winner. But the smart money would bet long odds against it. That's what non-generic means.

The account of the interface theory about Ug's perception of her kids is the same as the account in Objection 12 for the perception of lions. There are no public physical objects. Lions and kids are no more public and observer independent than are headaches. Lions and kids (and space-time itself) are useful species-specific perceptions that have been shaped by natural selection not to report the truth but simply to guide adaptive behavior. 

We must take them seriously, but it is a logical error to conclude that we must take them literally.

The image of rhetorical fancy dancing keeps returning to my mind.

Although our eyes do not report the truth, they are not kaleidoscope eyes because they do report what matters: fitness.

Our eye’s report on the optical images they are aimed at!  

Those imagines get processed into signals that are sent to the brain where the evaluating for potential fitness points happens.  The mind then sends commands to the brain, which in turn sends out action signals to the appropriate body parts.

The reality remains that “truth” is a not an aspect of actual “wet” evolution as it unfolds within our planet’s biosphere.  It’s a human thing.  

Notions such as “truth” or “correspondence to the objective world” play no role in explanatory accounts of perception.  -  by Rainer Mausfeld, PhD

Mausfeld, R. (2015). Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 22(6), 1535–1540. 

https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-014-0763-6


Abstract

"Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash (Psychonomic Review and Bulletin, 2015, in press) intend to show that perceptions are evolutionarily tuned to fitness rather than to truth. 

I argue, partly in accordance with their objective, that issues of ‘truth’ or ‘veridicality’ have no place in explanatory accounts of perception theory, and rather belong to either ordinary discourse or to philosophy. 

I regard, however, their general presumption that the evolutionary development of core achievements of the human perceptual system would be primarily determined by aspects of fitness and adaption as unwarranted in light of the evidence available.” ...


(14) We see then that the authors are caught in version of the Liar: Science shows that perception never cares about truth. Let this statement be L. L is derived via perception. So is L (together with its perceptual base) true or false? If it is one, then it is the other. Contradiction.

DH:  This is not our argument. We claim that perception evolved by natural selection. Call this statement E. Now E is indeed informed by the results of experiments, and thus by our perceptions. We observe, from evolutionary game theory, that one mathematical prediction of E is that natural selection generically drives true perceptions to extinction when they compete with perceptions tuned to fitness.

Suppose E is true. Then our perceptions evolved by natural selection. This logically entails that our perceptions are generically about fitness rather than truth. Is this a contradiction? 

Not at all. 

It is a scientific hypothesis that makes testable predictions. For instance, it predicts that (1) physical objects have no causal powers and 

What is that about?  No frame of reference is offered.  


The devil is in the details.  The phrase "correlation does not imply causation" refers to the inability to legitimately deduce a cause-and-effect relationship between two variables solely on the basis of an observed association or correlation between them.


DH:  (2) physical objects have no dynamical physical properties when they are not observed. These predictions are in fact compatible with quantum theory, and are part of the standard interpretation of quantum theory.

Crossing the line into scientific fraud here!  

We do not exist within the quantum realm of subatomic experiments!  Subtle fractal echoes not withstanding.

Those intellectual fancies are absolutely incompatible with all of our macroscopic, down to Earth, experiences! 

DH:  Suppose E is false. Then our perceptions did not evolve by natural selection. At present, science has no other theory on offer for the development of our perceptual systems. 

What’s he offering?  This is what happens when one loses perspective and fails to appreciate the profound difference between the Physical Reality our bodies are embedded within, and the unconstrained Mindscape our brain produces and that 'we' exist within.  

Worse, Hoffman crosses over into slander when he writes, “science has no other theory on offer for the development of our perceptual systems.”  

The study of our brain and perceptions is undergoing a revolution in deeper understanding.  We’ve only begun to appreciate the true complexity of the brain’s machinery.  

Evolutionary roots are likewise in early days of coming into focus.  Why toss up our arms and reach for the magical thinking so fast?

Or to put it another way, Hoffman is expecting us to arrive at home plate before even getting past second base.  

This selection is a teaser that only hints at the dynamic areas of study tackling the evolution of sense organs, pathways and perceptions has become.  No reason to turn our backs on it when we’ve gotten so far.

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Some Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception


Perceptual Systems, Historical Background, Innate And Learned Classical perceptual phenomena, Broad theoretical approaches, Current research/future developments.

Sources, science.jrank.org


Human perception is the active reception and coordination of information received through our sensory systems in order to make sense of the environment and to behave effectively within it. In contrast with the direct and immediate sensations actually received and transmitted, perception is the transformation of that information into nerve cell activity that is transferred to the brain where further processing occurs. 

Our perceptual systems do not passively receive stimuli from the world, instead they actively select, organize, interpret, and sometimes distort sensory information. The real world then may not be the same as the one we perceive. Broadly, perception can be said to be the study of the human organism's relation to the physical world.  …

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Ecological approaches to perceptual learning: learning to perceive and perceiving as learning

Agnes Szokolszky, Catherine Read, Zsolt Palatinus, et al.

First Published June 13, 2019

https://doi.org/10.1177/1059712319854687


… In this article, we focus on three theoretical stances within Ecological Psychology on the issue of perceptual learning: that of Eleanor J Gibson, the current theory of direct learning by Jacobs and Michaels, and the “organicist” approach based on ideas of organicist biology and developments in evolutionary biology. 

We consider perceptual learning as embedded in development and evolution, and we explore perceptual learning in more depth in the context of tool use and language development. We also discuss the relation between Ecological Psychology and Enactivism on the nature of perception. In conclusion, we summarize the benefits of Ecological Psychology, as a robust but still developing post-cognitivist framework, for the study of perceptual learning and cognitive science in general. …

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The Essential Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception

Eric P. Charles 

Published online:  July 11, 2017, Pages 198-212 |


ABSTRACT

Traditional theories of perception developed for centuries before Darwin conceived his theory of evolution by means of natural selection. Although many areas of psychological theory and research now have mainstream approaches strongly influenced by evolutionary thinking, mainstream perceptual theory remains close to its pre-Darwinian roots. 

This paper draws on insights from ecological psychology, especially as represented in J. J. Gibson's The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems (1966), to identify 4 elements that any future evolutionary approach to perception should be expected to include: (a) an ecological analysis of ambient energy, (b) a comparative understanding of the perceptual abilities of different species, (c) a dynamic understanding of organism–environment interaction as essential for perception, and (d) an understanding of perceptual attunement based on the concept of affordances. 

Each of these elements serves an essential theoretical role while also pointing toward lines of research where much work remains to be done. The presence of these elements explains, in part, the affinity between ecological psychology and other evolutionarily grounded approaches to psychology, including the emerging fields of enactivism and embodied cognition. …

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The evolution of early symbolic behavior in Homo sapiens

Kristian Tylén, Riccardo Fusaroli, Sergio Rojo, et al.

PNAS March 3, 2020 117 (9) 4578-4584; February 18, 2020; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1910880117


Abstract

How did human symbolic behavior evolve? Dating up to about 100,000 y ago, the engraved ochre and ostrich eggshell fragments from the South African Blombos Cave and Diepkloof Rock Shelter provide a unique window into presumed early symbolic traditions of Homo sapiens and how they evolved over a period of more than 30,000 y. Using the engravings as stimuli, we report five experiments which suggest that the engravings evolved adaptively, becoming better-suited for human perception and cognition. 

More specifically, they became more salient, memorable, reproducible, and expressive of style and human intent. However, they did not become more discriminable over time between or within the two archeological sites. Our observations provide support for an account of the Blombos and Diepkloof engravings as decorations and as socially transmitted cultural traditions. By contrast, there was no clear indication that they served as denotational symbolic signs. Our findings have broad implications for our understanding of early symbolic communication and cognition in H. sapiens.

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The Evolution and Fossil History of Sensory Perception in Amniote Vertebrates

First published as a Review in Advance on March 21, 2018 

https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-earth-082517-010120


… Fossil evidence suggests that Paleozoic taxa had only a limited amount of sensory capacities relative to later forms, with the majority of more sophisticated types of sensing evolving during the Triassic and Jurassic. 

Alongside the evolution of improved sensory capacities, various types of social communication evolved across different groups. At present there is no definitive evidence for a relationship between sensory evolution and species diversification. It cannot be excluded, however, that selection for improved sensing was partially triggered by biotic interactions, e.g., in the context of niche competition, whereas ecospace expansion, especially during the Mesozoic, might also have played an important role. …

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Evolutionary Specialization of Tactile Perception in Vertebrates

Eve R. Schneider, Elena O. Gracheva, and Slav N. Bagriantsev

April 6, 2016. -  https://doi.org/10.1152/physiol.00036.2015


Evolution has endowed vertebrates with the remarkable tactile ability to explore the world through the perception of physical force. Yet the sense of touch remains one of the least well understood senses at the cellular and molecular level. Vertebrates specializing in tactile perception can highlight general principles of mechanotransduction. Here, we review cellular and molecular adaptations that underlie the sense of touch in typical and acutely mechanosensitive vertebrates. …

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Evolutionary Psychology and the Emotions

Leda Cosmides & John Tooby

Handbook of Emotions, 2nd Edition, ©2000 

M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland-Jones, Editors. NY: Guilford.

 

Evolutionary psychology is an approach to the psychological sciences in which principles and results drawn from evolutionary biology, cognitive science, anthropology, and neuroscience are integrated with the rest of psychology in order to map human nature. By human nature, evolutionary psychologists mean the evolved, reliably developing, species-typical computational and neural architecture of the human mind and brain. 

According to this view, the functional components that comprise this architecture were designed by natural selection to solve adaptive problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and to regulate behavior so that these adaptive problems were successfully addressed (for discussion, see Cosmides & Tooby, 1987, Tooby & Cosmides, 1992). …

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The evolution of modern human brain shape

Simon Neubauer, Jean-Jacques Hublin and Philipp Gunz

Science Advances  24 Jan 2018: Vol. 4, no. 1, eaao5961

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao5961


… Our data show that, 300,000 years ago, brain size in early H. sapiens already fell within the range of present-day humans. Brain shape, however, evolved gradually within the H. sapiens lineage, reaching present-day human variation between about 100,000 and 35,000 years ago. This process started only after other key features of craniofacial morphology appeared modern and paralleled the emergence of behavioral modernity as seen from the archeological record. 

Our findings are consistent with important genetic changes affecting early brain development within the H. sapiens lineage since the origin of the species and before the transition to the Later Stone Age and the Upper Paleolithic that mark full behavioral modernity.

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Intrinsic Multiperspectivity: Conceptual Forms and the Functional Architecture of the Perceptual System

Rainer Mausfeld, PhD.

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Perceptual Worlds and Sensory Ecology

By: Stephen Burnett, PhD 

Dept. of Natural Sciences, Clayton State University

© 2011 Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):75


Every organism inhabits a world that is the sum total of all the information being received and processed by that organism's nervous system (Dangles et al. 2009). The term umwelt was coined to describe this perceptual world by Jakob von Uexküll in 1909 (Rüting 2004, Shettleworth 1998). 

This umwelt differs for each organism, which means that it is difficult for us to truly understand how another organism perceives the world. This conundrum has been of interest to both philosophers (Nagel 1974) and biologists (Griffin 1958) for many years. It should also be noted that it is common for sensory systems to change with development of an animal, meaning that the umwelt that organism inhabits can often change over the course of its life (Dangles et al. 2009). 

The field of sensory ecology is based on studying the sensory systems of animals in order to understand what they perceive in their environments and how that is going to affect their interactions with that environment (Dangles et al. 2009). This perceptual world is highly dependent upon the senses that a particular organism possesses, although it is also affected by the internal workings of an animal's nervous system at any given time. An animal can possess a variety of senses, which we can categorize based on the type of information that each sense receives (the sensory modality, Table 1). 

The relative importance of particular sensory modalities varies from one species to another, and it is often possible to learn a great deal about the ecology and evolution of a species by examining the different sensory modalities it possesses (Dangles et al. 2009). When examining the sensory ecology of other animals, humans tend to focus on the abilities we know best:  …

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Ch.17. A Hierarchical Model of the Evolution of Human Brain Specializations

H. CLARK BARRETT.


… However, if brain mechanisms evolve through processes of descent with modification, they are likely to be heterogeneous, rather than coming in just two kinds. They are likely to be hierarchically organized, with some design features widely shared across brain systems and others specific to particular processes. Also, they are likely to be largely developmentally plastic and interactive with other brain systems, rather than canalized and isolated. 

This chapter presents a hierarchical model of brain specialization, reviewing evidence for the model from evolutionary developmental biology, genetics, brain mapping, and comparative studies. …

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Surroundings and Evolution Shape Human Sight, Smell and Taste

by: Andrea Korte, February 19, 2017


Understanding how the five senses evolved can help inform how human sight, smell and taste continue to shift based on the environment, according to three researchers at the 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston.

We are currently experiencing “a state of mismatch” between the ways our senses evolved and our current surroundings, according to Kara C. Hoover, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Our ancestors’ visual acuity evolved outside in the natural world, said Amanda Melin, assistant professor of anthropology and archeology and medical genetics at the University of Calgary. …

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Point being, the science is alive and well, doing what it’s supposed to be doing, studying what can be studied.  Allowing facts to drive understanding.

DH:  Scientific theory, development of our perceptual systems.  So, in this case, science cannot at present make an informed prediction about whether our perceptions are true or not. But this is not a logical contradiction.

Playing games with words.  “Truth" doesn’t come into it!  

Our eyes receive the optical image that is focused through the lens apparatus onto the retina; where the signals are processed through the optic nerve; onto the appropriate structures within our brains; which continue processing the image-signal through a myriad of “filters,” and modifiers weighting in from throughout our body.  That's where fitness potentials are teased out of the incoming signals, before final images get projected onto the metaphorical mind’s eye.  

Only to be refreshed milliseconds later. 

DH:  So there is no liar paradox. And there'd better not be. Science cannot be precluded a priori from questioning the veridicality of the perceptions of H. sapiens, any more than it can be precluded from questioning the veridicality of the perceptions of other species. 

David Marr, for instance, argues that “… it is extremely unlikely that the fly has any explicit representation of the visual world around him—no true conception of a surface, for example, but just a few triggers and some specifically fly-centered parameters … ” and that the fly's perceptual information “… is all very subjective” (Marr, 1982, p. 34). Science has no trouble investigating the veridicality of the perceptions of other species and concluding, e.g., in the case of the fly, that they fail to be veridical. 

Again, this is nonsensical.  Here in 2021 we know that flies eyes are incredibly sharp, fast, precise optical instruments

Just because flies can’t recognize the difference between a slick ad and a loser, does not justify claiming flies’ vision fails to be veridica.

DH:  Its methods apply equally well to evaluating the veridicality of the perceptions of H. sapiens (Koenderink et al., 2010; Koenderink, 2011b, 2013).


(15) Section The Interface Theory of Perception fares no better. Here they say Reality, we learned, departed in important respects from some of our perceptions. This is true. But it is true because other perceptions of ours won out because they were true. E.g., the Earth is not a flat disk or plane.

DH:  Other perceptions indeed won out—not because they are true but because they are adaptive in a wider range of contexts. Flat earth is adequate for many everyday activities, but if one wants to circumnavigate the earth by boat then a spherical earth is more adaptive. If one wants to control satellites in orbit or navigate strategic submarines then a spherical earth is inadequate and a more complex model is required.

Perceived 3D space is simply a species-specific perceptual interface, not an insight into objective reality; 

Repeating a mantra without evidence beyond one’s conviction is not science.

we have argued for this on evolutionary grounds, 

But his “evolutionary grounds” are a computer based evolutionary game, within an idealized digital universe.  Something that has nothing to do with “wet” evolution which Hoffman has never studied and rarely acknowledges.

DH:  and researchers in embodied cognition have arrived at a similar conclusion (Laflaquiere et al., 2013; Terekhov and O'Regan, 2013). Space as modeled in physics extends perceived space via the action of groups, e.g., the Euclidean group, Poincare group, or arbitrary differentiable coordinate transformations (Singh and Hoffman, 2013)

Any objects embedded in space, including earth and its 3D shape, are thus descriptions in a species-specific vocabulary, not insights into objective reality.

Hoffman keeps coming on as though he believes he’s speaking of our actual physical reality, when in fact this is simply an interesting intellectual mind experiment.  

Unfortunately, a mind experiment that doesn’t respect the constraints of physical reality.

DH:  (16) Also, I don't understand their interface theory of perception. I not only take my icons seriously, but literally: they are icons. I'm prepared to wager the farm on this: they are indeed icons.

We would agree that icons are indeed icons. When I open my eyes and see a red apple, that red apple is indeed an icon of my perceptual interface. When I close my eyes that icon disappears; I see just a mottled gray field. Now some physicalists would like to claim that even when my eyes are closed, an objective red apple still exists, indeed the very red apple that triggered my perceptual interface to have a red apple icon. It is this claim that is generically incorrect, if our perceptual systems evolved by natural selection.

An “icon” is an image representing something else.  It has no substance.  You could say an “icon” is our image in a mirror, or that post card of Yosemite Valley.  

As opposed to looking at an actual person, or standing at Wawona Tunnel staring at the vista, those would be more accurately called a “facade.”  The surface layer of something with substance and internal structure.  

Our minds that are responsible for extracting the meaning from the received image!


(16) Also, I don't understand their interface theory of perception. I not only take my icons seriously, but literally: they are icons. I'm prepared to wager the farm on this: they are indeed icons.


DH:  We would agree that icons are indeed icons. When I open my eyes and see a red apple, that red apple is indeed an icon of my perceptual interface. When I close my eyes that icon disappears; I see just a mottled gray field. Now some physicalists would like to claim that even when my eyes are closed, an objective red apple still exists, indeed the very red apple that triggered my perceptual interface to have a red apple icon. It is this claim that is generically incorrect, if our perceptual systems evolved by natural selection.


Manipulating meanings is wordplay used to confuse rather than clarify.

Icons don’t have internal substance, they are symbols that point to something else that does possess substance.

Okay, Hoffman doesn’t deny we are made out of stuff, it’s just nothing like the stuff all our sense driven observations lead us to understand.  For him, reality is actually woven together by his Conscious Agents for our benefit.  

An illusion draped over a supposedly more "real" substructure within quarks, time and gravity.  Because we need them to guide us through our lives.   

I can’t buy it, there's no need whatsoever for introducing such contrived and distracting complications.  Science offers plenty of sober information with which to tease out our imagination's puzzles.


(17) The authors make too much of the Humean idea that the appearance of cause and effect is simply a useful fiction (section The Interface Theory of Perception). They like all mammals and perhaps most animals cannot fail to see causation in the deepest aspects of their lives. The authors believe in causation as deeply as anyone in the world. Why? 

DH:  Because we are all hardwired to see causation. And while it is true that causation goes away at the quantum level, we have no reason to believe that it doesn't really exist at the macro level. 

These two levels don't live well together, but pretending that there's no such thing as causation is silly, at least it is silly without a lot of argument

Catch that caveat?  'A lot of argument may change that simple truism?'

Who’s in charge, reality, or our imagination and ability to manipulate debate?

DH:  Even Hume admitted that causation was perfectly real when he had left his study and went to play backgammon with his friends.

There is indeed good evidence that belief in causation is either innate or learned early in life (Carey, 2009; Keil, 2011)

Go figure.  Let's think about why humans might have an innate awareness of cause and effect.  

It’s another example of the profound difference between appreciating the isness of physical reality and getting led astral by our fascinating, florid, malleable, boundless human mindscapes

DH:  And of course we, the authors, are no exception; we, no less than others, have a psychological penchant toward causal reasoning about the physical world. 

The problem is Hoffman hasn’t taken the time to take his bearings.  

He, and so many others, have never stopped to explicitly recognize the profound divide between Physical Reality and our individual and collective Mindscape, so they get themselves all tangled up trying to reconcile a god that doesn't have a material basis.  

Rather than simply observing what is and accepting god as a character of our own creation.  

Why not a little humility?  Appreciating the wonder in our senses and the evolution-made mind we perceive it through.  

We, the biological creature that learned to reflect upon the creation that made us.  

It’s between Earth’s evolution and us humans, no outside agents needed.

DH:  But, equally, we no less than others have a psychological penchant toward assuming that space, time and physical objects are not merely icons of a species-specific perceptual interface, but are instead real insights into the true nature of objective reality. 

Science has a habit of correcting our penchants, even those deeply held. Evolutionary games and genetic algorithms convinced us, against our deeply held convictions to the contrary, that perceptions are, almost surely, interfaces not insights; they also convinced us that the appearance of causality among physical objects is a useful fiction.

Consider the tone and hubris behind those words, it’s almost like the human assumes the shape of reality is dependent on his pronouncements.

DH:  Perceptual icons do, we propose, inform the behavior of the perceiver, and in this sense might be claimed to have causal powers. This sense of causality, however, differs from that typically attributed to physical objects.

This talk confuses me.  Doesn’t everyone appreciate that our actions, even our looks can have causal powers over perceivers? 

We are social animals, we are constantly assessing and weighing and acting with intent to influence others behaviors.  We also constantly enlist physical objects, knowing they will help us achieve physical goals.  Why pretend it ain’t so?

DH:  Hume's ideas on causation had little influence on us, in part because exegesis of his ideas is controversial, including projectivist, reductionist and realist interpretations (Garrett, 2009).

Our views on causality are consistent with interpretations of quantum theory that abandon microphysical causality, such as the Copenhagen, quantum Bayesian and (arguably) many-worlds interpretations, (Allday, 2009; Fuchs, 2010; Tegmark, 2014). 

The burden of proof is surely on one who would abandon microphysical causation but still cling to macrophysical causation.

DH  : “Physicist realize that spacetime is doomed, as well as its objects.  A new theory is required, in which spacetime, objects, their properties, and their fiction of cause and effect, sprout from a more primal cause.”   (C.A.R. ch10 ¶4)


How ironic, placing some burden of proof on Cause and Effect, but treating the untestable Many Worlds Interpretation as something we can bet on - though it is untestable.  That’s simply weird.

For what it’s worth, cause and effect is plenty established.  One more time, where’s the fiction at: CERN, Voyager Missions, Nuclear energy, etc., etc., etc., heck a can of beer for that matter, none of it would be possible, if not for the absolute rigidity of nature’s rules, along with humans thoroughly understanding causation and Physicalism within our world.  



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Cc’s Students’ Guide


Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-Gravity, a critical review of, The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid The Truth From Our Eyes, by Donald Hoffman, ©2019, W.W.Norton Company


The Prelude, Prof Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity

Chapter 10a, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents (1/3)

Chapter 10b, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents (2/3)

Chapter 10c, Community: Network of Hoffmanian Conscious Agents (3/3)

Chapter 1, Mystery: The Scalpel That Split Consciousness

Chapter 2, Beauty: Siren of the Gene

Chapter 3, Reality: Capers of the Unseen Sun

Chapter 4, Sensory: Fitness beats Truth

Chapter 5, Illusory: The Bluff of the Desktop

Chapter 6, Gravity: Spacetime is Doomed

Chapter 7, Virtuality: Inflating a Holoworld

Chapter 8, Polychromy: Mutations of an Interface

Chapter 9, Scrutiny: You Get What You Need, in Both Life and Business

Appendix,  Precisely: The Right to Be (Foolish)


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Hoffman/Prakash’s Objects of ConsciousnessObjections and Replies

Frontiers in Psychology - June 17, 2014


4/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness,  (conclusion)

1/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (1-12)

2/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (13-17)

3/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (18-21)


Further background information:


Paul Mealing considers Hoffman's "Objects of Consciousness.”

The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One

Sabine Hossenfelder in Defense of Scientific Realism and Physical Reality

Student Resource - Frontiers in Psychology - profits über alles? A closer look. 

Student Resource - physical origins of mind - Dr. Siegel, Allen Institute Brain Science, Tononi, Koch.


More to come . . .


Feel free to copy and share

WhatsUpWithThatWatts.blogspot.com


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Students Introduction to Reality Based Brain/Consciousness Research


The Mind as a Complex Mathematical System with Emergent Properties, Daniel Siegel

A Scientific Explanation of the Human Mind | Daniel Siegel

Dan Siegel: The Neurological Basis of Behavior, Mind, Brain and Human Relationships, Part 1 to 3 

Allen Institute for Brain Science

Giulio Tononi on Consciousness

Consciousness: here, there and everywhere?  Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch

Video, Giulio Tononi on Consciousness

The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness, Dr. Christof Koch,

Allen Institute for Brain Science

Allen Brain Observatory: Visualizing the brain in action

Allen Cell Types Database: Understanding the fundamental building blocks of the brain

Allen Institute for Brain Science,  Coding & Vision 101, 12-part undergraduate-level lecture series

Brain Expansion Microscopy, Harvard Medical School,

Lattice light-sheet microscopy

Gut bacteria and mind control: to fix your brain, fix your gut!

New center advances biomedical and brain imagingUniversity of Delaware,

Stunning Brain Map Reveals Tiny Communication Network

Brain Research: New Discoveries and Breakthroughs at UC Davis


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Some Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception


Perceptual Systems, Historical Background, Innate And Learned Classical perceptual phenomena, Broad theoretical approaches, Current research/future developments.

Sources, science.jrank.org

Ecological approaches to perceptual learning: learning to perceive and perceiving as learning

Agnes SzokolszkyCatherine ReadZsolt Palatinus, et al., 2019

The Essential Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception

Eric P. Charles, 2017,

The evolution of early symbolic behavior in Homo sapiens

Kristian Tylén, Riccardo Fusaroli, Sergio Rojo, et al. PNAS 2020

The Evolution and Fossil History of Sensory Perception in Amniote Vertebrates

doi.org/10.1146/annurev-earth-082517-010120, March 21, 2018 

Evolutionary Specialization of Tactile Perception in Vertebrates

Eve R. SchneiderElena O. Gracheva, and Slav N. Bagriantsev, 2016

Evolutionary Psychology and the Emotions

Leda Cosmides & John Tooby, Handbook of Emotions, 2000

The evolution of modern human brain shape

Simon Neubauer, Jean-Jacques Hublin and Philipp Gunz, 2018:

Intrinsic Multiperspectivity: Conceptual Forms and the Functional Architecture of the Perceptual System

Rainer Mausfeld, PhD.

Perceptual Worlds and Sensory Ecology

By: Stephen Burnett, PhD, Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):75

Ch.17. A Hierarchical Model of the Evolution of Human Brain Specializations

H. Clark Barrett

Surroundings and Evolution Shape Human Sight, Smell and Taste

by: Andrea Korte, February 19, 2017


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The bottom line, courtesy of:

Mysteries of Modern Physics by Sean Carroll

Jan 29, 2020  -  Darwin College Lecture Series


Sean Carroll,  10:45

. . .  these are the particles that make up you and this table and me and this laptop and really everything that you have ever seen with your eyes touched with your fingers smelled with your nose in your life. 


Furthermore we know how they interact with each other and even better than that, the most impressive fact is that there will not be a discovery tomorrow or next century or a million years from now which says you know what there was another particle or another force that we didn't know about but now we realize plays a crucial role in our everyday life. 


As far as our everyday life is concerned by which I really mean what you can see with your eyes touch with your hands etc we’re done finding the underlying ingredients. That is an enormous achievement in human history one that does not get enough credit, because of course as soon as we do it we go on to the next thing.  


Physics is not done.  I'm not saying that physics is done, but physics has understood certain things and those things include everything you encounter in your everyday life - unless you're a professional experimental physicist or unless you're looking of course outside our everyday life at the universe and other places where we don't know what’s going on. … 


Sincerely,

Peter Miesler

aka citizenschallenge

email:  citizenschallenge at gmail

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