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3096Comments on John Smythies' article "Space, Time and Consciousness" JCS, 10, No. 3, 2003, pp. 47-56

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  • Adhanom Andemicael
    Jul 2, 2004
      In his article "Space, Time and Consciousness," John Smythies discusses the
      relationship between consciousness and physical reality. There are some
      similarities between Smythies' theory of consciousness and my own theory.

      Jcs-online list-members may wish to read my paper "Temporal Passage":


      Target Article 61


      Adhanom Andemicael

      On July 01, 2004, Serge Patlavskiy wrote:

      Comments on John Smythies' article "Space, Time and Consciousness" Journal
      of Consciousness Studies, 10, No. 3, 2003, pp. 47-56

      [John Smythies] "The relationship between a consciousness and its brain" (p.

      [S.P.] Consciousness itself is already some relation (in particular - the
      relation of functional tautology; see [1]). So, there cannot be any kind of
      relation between consciousness and the brain, as there cannot be any
      relation (in its standard meaning) between the entities of a different
      nature. Moreover, it is hard to imagine how some brain can be the asset of
      some consciousness.

      [John Smythies] "My exposition will be presented in three sections. 1. The
      role of the brain and consciousness in perception following the
      demonstration by recent experiments in neuroscience and psychophysics that
      we do not perceive the world as it actually is but as the brain computes it
      most probably to be, These findings refute the philosophical theory of
      perception known as Direct Realism (Smythies, 1994b; Smythies and
      Ramachandran, 1998). This has important consequences for any theory of
      consciousness." (p. 48)

      [S.P.] In my earlier jcs-online discussion with Augustin Carreno I've stated
      the following idea.
      "Let us suppose that we are in a full darkness - we can see nothing. The
      assertion that the man can see in a full darkness looks paradoxically from
      everyday experience. But if we will use the theoretical knowledge about the
      infra-red rays, and construct necessary device, we would be able to get
      infra-red image (IRI) of the object which, say, is in front of us -- the
      IRI{object}. Will this image be informationally full? Everybody will say:
      "No". Well, then another example. If some bio-object creates an ultra-sonic
      image (USI) of the object -- the USI{object}, then will this image be
      informationally full? I would answer: "No, but it is expediently full for
      such a kind of species (bats, dolphins, etc.). Well, but when the human
      creates the image of the world using his natural sense organs (NSO) -- the
      NSO{world}, then will this image be informationally full? The answer also
      must be: "No, but it is expediently full for a human". (The expedient
      fullness means that both qualitative and
      quantitative characteristics of the image being received are enough for a
      human to survive). And the Third basic idea of Nonstatanalysis says that in
      case of using the IIS-modeling -- the IIS image of the object or the
      IIS{object}, it is informationally full -- to wit, absolutely full (being
      expediently full at every stage of the IIS development)."
      So, Nonstatanalysis - it is rather some fourth theory (see [3], [4]).

      [John Smythies] "2. The need to delineate clearly between phenomenal
      space-time and physical space-time. This will entail a consideration of
      recent theories in physics (such as Kaluza-Klein, superstring and brane
      theories) that suggest that space has more than three dimensions." (p. 48)

      [S.P.] Space has no dimensions. They are we, the theorists, who describe the
      subjectively perceived physical space with such or other characteristics and

      [John Smythies] "In the past the postulation of any mental entity additional
      or external to the brain led to Cartesian dualism as I noted earlier.
      Descartes used 'extension in space' as the criterion to distinguish between
      mental entities (unextended) and physical ones (extended). However, as I
      have argued at length elsewhere (Smythies, 1994a) this was probably a
      mistake." (p. 48)

      [S.P.] I think Descartes was right using "extension in space" as the
      criterion to distinguish between mental and physical. Moreover, I would like
      to add one more criterion - "duration in time". Using those two fundamental
      criteria, we want to show that mental entities and physical entities require
      principally different methods of study. For example, in Nonstatanalysis the
      mental phenomena are being formalized using the B-space's theoretical base
      where such concepts as "space" and "time" have no sense (see [3], [4]).

      [John Smythies] "These demonstrate beyond any doubt that, in vision, we do
      not perceive the world as it actually is, but as the brain computes it most
      probably to be (see Smythies and Ramachandran, 1998; Kovacs et al., 1996;
      Yarrow et al., 2001; and see further Vernon, 1962; Gregory, 1981;
      Ramachandran and Blakeslee, 1998)." (p. 48)

      [S.P.] It is a trivial conclusion that can easily be made intuitively
      without the necessity to embark upon conducting a large body of experiments.

      [John Smythies] "Visual sensations are not parts of external objects, as the
      Direct Realist theory holds, but are televisual-like constructions of the
      representative mechanisms of perception." (p. 49)

      [S.P.] For the pictorial rendition of this plain idea see [3], [5], Figure 2
      "The standard scheme of the process of cognition".

      [John Smythies] "Thus phenomenal consciousness must be allotted its own real
      space - phenomenal space." (p. 49)

      [S.P.] The term "phenomenal space" can only be used as a metaphor, which has
      nothing to do with the physical space.

      [John Smythies] "It has been suggested by several people (Broad, 1923;
      Price, 1953; Kuhlenbeck, 1958; Smythies, 1994a) that the solution to this
      problem may be that phenomenal space and physical space are simply different
      spaces, different parallel universes, whose contents are causally related.
      Here 'different spaces' does not mean that one is real and one is abstract,
      but that both are real but are topologically external to each other." (p.

      [S.P.] In Nonstatanalysis, the phenomenal and physical spaces differ in that
      the first one is being formalized using the B-space's theoretical base, but
      the second one - using the A-space's theoretical base (see [3], [5], Table
      2). Second, Nonstatanalysis is based on the idea that there are no parallel
      realities (universes) and that all phenomena belong to one and the same
      Reality (see [3], for the MTA assertions). Third, the phenomenal space is
      not real - it is only a theoretical construction. Forth, the phenomenal
      space cannot be seen nor defined by analogy with the physical space. Fifth,
      describing phenomenal space we have to regard <inverse relations> between
      the events in addition to the causal relations, which are only being taken
      into account when describing the physical space.

      [John Smythies] "It is also clear than the phenomenal space of consciousness
      has three spatial dimensions. One needs, for example, three numbers to
      locate a point in the body image or in a dream. But it may well be that the
      co-ordinate systems for these two spaces are different." (p. 51)

      [S.P.] They are surely different. For example, in Nonstatanalysis so called
      <cognitive frame of reference> is used in addition to the ordinary <physical
      frame of reference> (see [3], [4] for the CFR).

      [John Smythies] "My own contribution to this theory is to present the case
      that a consciousness may have its own space- time system and its own system
      of ontologically independent and spatiotemporally organized events
      (sensations and images) that have as much right to be called 'material' as
      do protons and electrons." (p. 55)

      [S.P.] Consciousness, as any other <cognitively independent entity> or the
      <things in themselves>, has nothing until we ascribe it with such or other
      features. Yes, we have to ascribe consciousness with some features when
      constructing the theory of consciousness, but the author, as it seems to me,
      tries to ascribe consciousness with some features only by analogy with the
      physical space without reference to any theory of consciousness.

      The author's "further exploration" of Andrei Linde's hypothesis is hidden so
      deep beyond the thoughts and ideas of various scientific authorities so that
      it can hardly be seen and properly evaluated without familiarizing oneself
      with the original Linde's theory.

      [1] jcs-online posting #2701 "The Principle of Cognitive Indeterminacy",at
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jcs-online/ or at
      http://www.geocities.com/spatlavskiy/, OTHER PAPERS --1.
      [2] jcs-online posting: "Imaginary Gap"- reply to Augustin Carreno at
      http://www.geocities.com/spatlavskiy/, OTHER PAPERS-1.
      [3] "Elaboration of the New Paradigm of Interdisciplinary Investigations",
      Journal of Conscientiology (ISSN 1520-4049), Volume 1, Number 4, pp. 305-36,
      1999 http://cogprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/archive/00003571/ or at
      http://www.geocities.com/spatlavskiy/, First target article, full
      illustrated version, Msword formatted.
      [4] "The Key Ingredients of a Specific Interdisciplinary Approach to
      Consciousness" at http://www.geocities.com/spatlavskiy/, Second target
      article, the full illustrated version, Msword formatted.
      [5] FIGURES&TABLES at http://www.geocities.com/spatlavskiy/
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