December 2009


This post has some lovely things to say about the relation between cause and effect, derived from considerations of the frame of reference of a physical theory.  For a natural scientist from a past civilization to have the concept of conservation of momentum is astounding.  But his conception of weight is interesting.  We now differentiate between mass and weight.  He didn’t.  If you hold gravity constant, there is no difference.  His theory was completely consistent within its conventional frame of reference.  Science strives to expand that frame of reference, leaving old truths new in a new way, with more context.

With P-world theory, my goal is to provide a little more context.  A framework within what we know has its place, but it is a larger place, admitting of more kinds of truth.

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Dehaene has an interesting article in Edge.org on his work in studying brain activity related to consciousness experience, or rather brain activity associated with the ability to report on the nature of brief stimuli presented visually. He uses language in an infuriating way typical of neuroscience:

We can see a lot of cortical activation created by a subliminal word. It enters the visual parts of the cortex, and travels through the visual areas of the ventral face of the brain.

Now, If I have a basin of water, and I tap the side, waves propagate through the basin, but my tap is not propagating, and there is an important distinction between the wave pattern and the tap. Yet neuroscientists talk as if stimuli were being passed around in the brain. An important insight of the enactive tradition is to clearly separate between the tap and the waves, or between a perturbation to the dynamics of the organism and the effect of that perturbation.