• Metaphysician Undercover
    9.5k
    Well, that's the thesis of the series, so that leaves us nowhere to go.Banno

    Are you claiming that the thesis of the series is that thinking is going on somewhere other than within the person thinking? Did you read any of the articles?
  • apokrisis
    5.5k
    SO add a time and place, if you likeBanno

    Yes. You can keep adding displacement. As much as you want. But that doesn't absolve you of the need to account for that machinery of displacement. Your anti-Cartesianism still misses the point.
  • Banno
    15.9k
    Is it really an issue? It's not hard to add time and place; indeed, time and place are implicit in the statement: "the cat is on the chair" is true right now because Jack is on the chair.

    Here:
    p2y261ma25a2b1oo.jpg
    See?
  • apokrisis
    5.5k
    I don't understand this sentence. Can you clarify?Banno

    It is not a flaw but the reason why it works.
  • Banno
    15.9k
    You appear to have introduced a technical term - displacement - without telling us how you are using it.

    Could you please clarify?
  • apokrisis
    5.5k
    I'm sure you were making this point. It started back here - https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/145216

    But yes, I see Cavacava is too. That's encouraging.
  • apokrisis
    5.5k
    You appear to have introduced a technical term - displacement - without telling us how you are using it.Banno

    Err. Pattee's epistemic cut. Rosen's MR systems. Von Neumann's self-reproducing automata. :)

    If you want the technicalities, look them up.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.5k
    Apo seems to use "epistemic cut" as a catch-all phrase.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.5k
    Yes and yes.Banno

    All I see is mention of thought being objects "active within our bodies", like this:

    "All the objects we encounter, the objects we call experience, continue to be active in our bodies and brains, continue to be our experience. It is the nature of our fantastically complex brains that they allow these encounters to go on, and to go on going on. The encounters are not “stored” and are certainly not static. They are continuing to happen. They are us."

    What makes you think that the thesis is that thinking is outside of our bodies?
  • Banno
    15.9k
    So I Googled "Pattee Displacement" and got the standard catalogue of American motorcycles. X-)

    Would someone else here tell me how displacement is being used?
  • Banno
    15.9k
    Take a look at the Pizza thought experiment.

    http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/11/26/the-pizza-thought-experiment/


    Might be worth a thread on its own.
  • Banno
    15.9k
    Ah. found this:

    The brain is full of knowledge that may appear unrelated to any immediate useful action, construction, or control. Nevertheless, this high level of information is what forms our models, our value systems, our aesthetics, and our world view from which we ultimately derive our goals, decisions, and actions. It is certainly not meaningless. This problem of delayed meaning arises because of the apparent total lack of intrinsic connection between the time and place where we acquire new information and the time and place where it is selected or when we decide to use it in our actions and efforts to control. In physical jargon this arbitrariness in time scale or lack of any definable temporal relation between events is called incoherence. In linguistics jargon it is called displacement. It is this temporal arbitrariness that is one reason semiotic control is difficult to incorporate into physical models or any dynamic formalism where time or sequence defines the next-state transition.
    http://www.informationphilosopher.com/solutions/scientists/pattee/

    (my emphasis)

    So displacement is where one talks about something in a different place to where it is happening?
  • apokrisis
    5.5k
    Well it is the central thing to a semiotic metaphysics. So yeah.

    A modelling relation with the world is based on the displacement that is the separation of the model from the world it seeks to regulate.

    The idea is terribly simple and familiar. The map is not the territory, etc. I get tired of all the pretence that this is something esoteric and not merely a precision description of the ontology involved.

    If you want a more technical framing, Pattee's slogan is that life is based on the dichotomy of rate independent information and rate dependent dynamics.

    But let's cut out all the feigned shock and horror. The epistemic cut is perfectly straight-forward.
  • apokrisis
    5.5k
    So displacement is where one talks about something in a different place to where it is happening?Banno

    Nope. ;)
  • Banno
    15.9k
    ...displacement... is the separation of the model from the world it seeks to regulate.apokrisis
    AH! Cheers.

    "The map is not the territory" was a favourite term of mine asa child. I was into General Semantics and all that.

    And in a way it is true. "Jack" is not Jack. The word is not the thing.

    In another sense, "the map is not the territory" is quite problematic. In order to use a map one must understand the little crosses and lines as being buildings and roads and stuff.
  • apokrisis
    5.5k
    In another sense, "the map is not the territory" is quite problematic.Banno

    Of course. Hence why you are already wandering off down a familiar and reassuring seeming path - semiotics as Sausserean dualism. Displacement as what Derrida meant.

    You are going to find semiotics "problematic" while you continue to attempt to assimilate it to good old Kantian representationalism.

    If you don't get the irreducibly triadic structure of a sign relation, you haven't yet got it at all.

    As I said, our model of the world is really the model of us in that world. The displacement is not dyadic but another rung up from that. The world becomes the place we also discover ourselves. And you need an epistemology that has that structural recursion.

    Again, google some real writers on the issue - Pattee's epistemic cut, Rosen's modelling relation, Von Neumann's self-reproducing automata.
  • Banno
    15.9k
    If you don't get the irreducibly triadic structure of a sign relation, you haven't yet got it at all.apokrisis

    Might be true. Peirce had a strange affection for triads. Yet another thing that irks. So I am not convinced I want it all. Or any of it.

    Despite your protestations Peirce remains sidelined in philosophy. There are good reasons for that, triadic fetishes perhaps being one. Pattee is just about unreadable. The SEP article on Peirce reads like a fan magazine. And you are such a rude bugger. It's all just not very attractive.
  • apokrisis
    5.5k
    And you are such a rude bugger.Banno

    Rather than trolling, just deal with the arguments for a change.

    Hint. Telling me "you have a feeling" is not an argument. It is a confession you just lost the argument.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.5k
    Take a look at the Pizza thought experiment.Banno

    It's just more of the same. What Manzotti is arguing is that we have no need for the word "thoughts". "Thoughts" is a fictional word, it really refers to nothing. But if we must say that it refers to something, then what it refers to is nothing other than the external things which are the objects of thinking. However, he clearly maintains that thinking is an activity which is going on within the human body. Here's a telling quote:

    "What we call thinking is a form of action, a way our body organizes our behavior in response to those external causes that our so-called thoughts are about."

    But let's cut out all the feigned shock and horror. The epistemic cut is perfectly straight-forward.apokrisis

    Thanks apokrisis, I read the referred article by Pattee. I disagree that the epistemic cut as described, is perfectly straight forward, because Pattee's categories are confused. He starts out by describing it as the division between subject and object, observer and observed. Then he proceeds to compare this to the symbol and what is symbolized, but this is where he looses track of his own categories. Both the symbol, and the thing symbolized are objects, and neither qualifies to be placed in the category of subject, or observer. He tries to represent this as the proper division by allowing that the symbol actively changes, as if it were an aspect of the active subject, but it is not an aspect of the subject, it is an object which is changing. Thus he proceeds to discuss the symbols as if they were active constraints (on the subject side of the epistemic cut), claiming to have bridged the epistemic cut in this way, but all he has done is made a category mistake.
  • apokrisis
    5.5k
    Like Banno, whatever makes you happy I guess. I couldn’t even begin to untangle the misconceptions in all that.
  • StreetlightX
    8k

    Super interesting interview. I do wish these people would drop the outdated 'inside/outside' / 'internalist/externalist' vocabulary though. The distinction - when taken in the absolute - is not helpful, and the more philosophically astute move would be to show how they are largely misleading when thinking about thought. As tends to be the case, these people are rehashing - in a more neuroscientific key - findings that phenomenologists have established for half a century or more now. *sigh*
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.5k
    I couldn’t even begin to untangle the misconceptions in all that.apokrisis

    Yet you just said:

    The epistemic cut is perfectly straight-forward.apokrisis

    What is very straight forward is Pattee's category mistakes. Take the map/territory example. These two are both objects, so there is no epistemic cut between these two. They are both things to be observed, and not of the subject, or observer. The epistemic cut is defined by Pattee as the division between subject and object, observer and observed, so there is no epistemic cut between the map and the territory.

    Pattee claims an epistemic cut between "initial conditions" and "laws", but these are both of the subject. Then he claims an epistemic cut between "system being measured" and "measuring device", when these are both of the object. The article is just one category mistake after the other, as if Pattee's intent is to create so much confusion surrounding the epistemic cut, that it disappears into vagueness, where he can then claim that it has been bridged. Not at all surprising if he's following Piercean principles.
    "
  • schopenhauer1
    6.5k

    Thank you, succinct summary of the vagueness of apokrisis/Pattee's references to the almighty "epistemic cut". Apokrisis has to actually address this issue if he is to move anyone on this forum, yet he continually just hand-waves this off and tries to deflect real explanation of the problems you bring up. If he puts onus on you, then he can never be responsible for the burden of explanation- it is your fault with your interpretation. Also, you cannot repeat definitions of dodgy concepts with more dodgy concepts and think that it will come out square. You cannot get blood from a stone.
  • apokrisis
    5.5k
    To model the world, we must turn it into a set of measurements. A set of measurements is not the world. It is as simple as that.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.5k

    The set of measurements is part of the world, and that's why there is no "epistemic cut", as defined, between the measurements and the thing measured. There is perhaps an epistemic cut between the thing measured and the principles employed in measurement, and between the measurements and the principles employed, such that the act of measurement provides us with a separation, an epistemic cut, between the principles employed and the thing measured, along with the measurements. But this only begs the question of the existence of a "principle", just like "epistemic cut" begs the question of the existence of the subject. If we ignore this question altogether, concerning the existence of the principles, then the division between the measurements and the thing measured, is obscured in vagueness.

    In another sense, "the map is not the territory" is quite problematic. In order to use a map one must understand the little crosses and lines as being buildings and roads and stuff.Banno

    Banno gets this, but refuses to address the issue of what is a principle. Sam26 proposes hinge-props which are somehow different from principles, perhaps a special sort of principle. But Sam26 doesn't seem to be able to explain how to differentiate a hinge-prop from an axiom, or a self-evident truth.
  • apokrisis
    5.5k
    Take the map/territory example. These two are both objects, so there is no epistemic cut between these two.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yeah. I've said many times now that a dualistic ontology can't cut it. It has to be a triadic relation. So someone has to interpret the map to navigate the territory.

    Thus the further thing of the interpreter must either be addressed by the metaphysics, or else it sets up the familiar homuncular regress.

    A further obvious problem with a map is that it is representational. It is passive. It can't physically do anything to constrain the physics of the world.

    Well it does if you are reading it and saving your legs by not getting lost. But the epistemic cut is about the need for some actual hinge point, or transduction step, where information and physics truly make contact.

    Hence we have Pattee's focus on how a molecule can function as a message - how DNA can code for a protein that is then an enzymatic signal to switch on or off a metabolic process.

    So Peirce gives us the general triadic need to include the notion of interpretance in any modelling relation with the world. And Pattee focuses on the practicality of the machinery that connects the interpretance and the world.

    The usual dualistic bind that plagues representationalism is resolved by this modelling relation where the informational aspect of nature is tied in an interactive feedback loop with the material aspect of nature.
  • Janus
    11.7k


    It's true I have previously highlighted in different ways what seems to be an issue with thinking about spatiotemporal occurrences as timeless truths. I recall reading in Russell the assertion that once something has happened it remains forever true that it has happened, and even that it is true now and forever that whatever will happen in the future will happen in the future.

    All this seems logical enough; but the troubling question is as to what such timeless truths really consist in beyond our thinking of them. If they consist in nothing beyond our thinking of them then they are not really timeless at all, because our thinking is a temporal event. If they consist in something beyond our thinking of them, then what could that be but some eternal logical 'substance', universal mind, or God?
  • apokrisis
    5.5k
    In order to use a map one must understand the little crosses and lines as being buildings and roads and stuff.Banno

    Banno gets this, but refuses to address the issue of what is a principle.Metaphysician Undercover

    I'm not sure many maps are crosses and lines. Was Banno thinking of pirate maps? Normally those also have a palm tree and an instruction of how many paces to the west. :)

    But seriously, to get the point of Korzybski, he was saying that the map you find so useful as a model of the world is not the world. In fact, it functions by abstracting away as much of the physics of the real world as it possibly can.

    So the argument is against representationalism - the idea that the mind puts reality on display in some direct naive realist fashion.

    This is the essential problem with Banno's thinking. He wants to have a direct and veridical relation with the world. He wants nothing to intervene between his beliefs and the real facts. He is a good old fashioned Cartesian, but wants to deal with that by refusing to acknowledge his dualism of self and world. He pretends that because the relation feels direct and unmediated, that warrants an epistemology that just takes the relation to be direct and unmediated.

    However Korzybski got the fact that the modelling relation is not about veridical representation. The interpreter doesn't want to have to think about the whole of reality. S/he just wants simple signs telling him/her exactly how to react on any given occasion. The interpreter wants to function as a set of habits triggered by repeatable acts of measurement. The world - as represented in the interpreter's world model - should be reduced to a simple set of stop/go signs.

    This is anti-representational. The signs that constitute the map - or state of perceptual awareness - should be whatever can serve to get rid of the most unnecessary detail possible.

    It flips our usual intuitions on their head. But psychological science is perfectly familiar with the story. How else could the complex energy of the world get turned into some neural traffic of digitised spikes?

    So yes, a map might be just the barest thing of lines and crosses. Or a few named landmarks and named roads.

    In recursive fashion, this is even simpler than the world as we model it neurobiologically. Our eyes see buildings, roads and stuff. That is the level of modelling at which we navigate using the biology of perception. And it is impressively direct and veridical - if you don't know the first thing about the actual psychophysics of our neural-level models.

    But then, at a cultural and linguistic level, we can construct paper maps that abstract the essentials of our experiential maps. We can operate as interpreters seeking useful habits at this secondary level of semiosis. We can transcend our animal state by becoming creatures of even greater symbolic abstraction.

    The map and the territory story was meant to draw attention to this - the way that cognition is anti-representational. Modelling works by reducing a complex reality to the sparsest acts of measurements that can reliably do the job of getting us about the world.

    And yet Banno can't help himself. He has to jump to the representational veracity that he believes warrants his naive realism. Look everyone, there is the buried treasure, right where the map said it was!
  • apokrisis
    5.5k
    I recall reading in Russell the assertion that once something has happened it remains forever true that it has happened, and even that it is true now and forever that whatever will happen in the future will happen in the future.Janus

    The past may be certain, but the future is full of possibilities.

    So if Russell said this, he was surely just giving voice to the widespread confusion over how deterministic physics is in fact .... the map and not the territory.

    Our models of physics generally have the property of being time reversible. The equations encode a symmetrical relation with no preferred direction. They have to so as to fit a cause/effect model of reality. The past state that maps to the future state must commute. That future state must map back to the past for the simplistic maths to work and preserve the efficient causal relation being claimed.

    So this is what mechanics is about. Reducing reality to models of causal entailment. Mapping a prior state onto a future state in a timeless fashion. Going forwards in time has to look the same as if we were instead travelling back.

    It's not a problem as we know how to break the symmetry of these symmetric equations. We know that the variable we plug into them are the initial conditions. They are the information that comes from the past.

    But to the degree the world is mechanical and deterministic, we can also do the reverse. We can start with the final state and work back to predict what must have - retrocausally - been the initial conditions.

    Of course, we also know that such physical situations are rare rather than generic. After all, there is an even more fundamental law in the laws of thermodynamics where time now has a preferred direction due to entropification. Every actual physical process is frictional or heat wasting. That is information lost irrecoverably to an environment (Maxwell's demon argument).

    So you can't actually measure the full final state needed to run your deterministic equations in reverse. The critical details are almost sure to have escaped. And the more complex the system - the more realistic it actually is - the faster the information gets dispersed as statistical entropy.

    All this seems logical enough; but the troubling question is as to what such timeless truths really consist in beyond our thinking of them. If they consist in nothing beyond our thinking of them then they are not really timeless at all, because our thinking is a temporal event. If they consist in something beyond our thinking of them, then what could that be but some eternal logical 'substance', universal mind, or God?Janus

    It's not the truths that are timeless. It is the information recorded in a memory.

    So a model exists "outside" of the time of the physical process it models. It is displaced. There is an epistemic cut.

    And a model is only "the truth" in a semiotic sense. It is a model of the world with us in it. So it is the world as it is the most convenient and purpose-serving for us to imagine it.

    The model thus constructs "the interpreter" along with "the interpreted". The self becomes this timeless set of "truths" - or semiotic habits - that stands apart from the world it is in the habit of regulating according to its desires.

    The "truths" captured by this interpretive relation are not really truths at all. They are not the mind-independent facts of the world. But nor are they just idealist mental constructs. They are what is "true" about some self-interested system of interpretance - like an organism with an interest in autonomy.

    So an interpretive relation is true to itself! It is capturing the facts of how to be in a pragmatic or functional relation with the world ... as an organism.

    Now if you then extend semiosis to the Cosmos or Existence in general - make the leap to pan-semiosis - then you would be getting at the truly timeless and mathematical-strength habits of nature. You would be treating reality as a mind-full organism, or at least a purpose-driven dissipative structure.

    However I always agree that pan-semiosis is speculative metaphysics. Science hasn't quite got there, even if it is knocking on the door with its information theoretic turn, its new ontic structuralism.
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