March 2008


Homuncular strategies for explaining mental faculties are not in fashion. Indeed, you will be laughed out of town if you are incautious with them. Dennett likes to sanction their use as long as they cash out in less-than-intelligent sub-processes, whcih have less intelligent sub-parts themselves, and so down to stupid neurons.

Oddly, while we protest at using homuncular strategies for discussing ‘parts’ of our minds (as if minds had parts), we seem happy to use them willy-nilly when discussing the affairs of nations. It seems natural, even correct, to say things like “Russia bristled”, “China objected”, “The USA wants….” etc. I think this is not accidental, and not “mere metaphor”. From where we are standing, nations seem to behave intentionally. Complex behaviour typically appears intentional. That is, it is about something. (more…)

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Robotocists find support for the embodiment hypothesis. Smart parts! Distributed smartness. Smartness in the fit of the organism to the environment.

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The Pink Monkey project is underway. Hans Rosling is on board.

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… is not to be less real, in any sense.  Once we “thingify” the P-world–treat it as a discernable object with properties, and temporarily stop trying to describe it from the inside–then phenomena defined over multiple P-worlds are just as real.  When we see the battles of nations, are those not real battles between real nations?  We insist that they are all the act of individuals, but they have a reality of their own, and the participants are less free than they think.  So we are not the participants in these patterns.  We are also constituted by the patterns among the P-worlds.  Nations are emergent phenomena in a very real sense.  The problem with cashing this insight out is that an emergent phenomenon, to be justly so called, is a structural pattern defined over a substratum.  Prior to the emergence, there are lots of individual bits.  Thereafter, there are coordinations, such as bubbles, cells, columns, and nations.  Dynamics is the language in which we are written.