RE: [-empyre-] the heart of the matter
> Good morning all,
> I'm working right now on a research project concerned with
> synesthesia, hence my interest in the topic.
> I thought I'd start the discussion by posting a couple of ideas
> which have come to mind recently.
> Computationalism, the view that mental states are computational
> states—solely abstract and syntactic, neglects real-time,
> real-world constraints such as embodiment, interaction, physics,
> and semantics. Computationalism will always be in the process of
> revision because it is technology based and therefore always
> changes. The concepts 'red’, the ‘sound of a bell’ are
> abstractions - essentially information. They are not tied to
> exact neurons, just as a variable in a program need not be tied
> to a particular physical memory location (virtual addressing,
> virtual memory, cache, CPU registers etc). Information exists,
> but has no physical presence in itself. Information can only
> exist in a practical sense, however, if there is (at least) one
> representation of it in (at least) one medium physically. But
> that representation does not need any independent labelling with
> meaning - it can simply be an abstract symbol, whose meaning is
> entirely defined by its functional consequences.
> Bill and jackbackrack will have a different perspective, perhaps,
> coming from the fields of AI and robotics; what do you think?
> BTW, if you want more info about my project, check out:
It's great to have you and William and Jackbackrack on as guests. Thanks for
being a featured guest this month.
I think your description of 'computationalism' as 'the view that mental
states are computational states' is interesting.
When I studied 'data structures' of programming, it was exciting for me
because it seemed like these humble data structures--arrays, lists, stacks,
queues, and all sorts of trees, for instance--were much more flexible and
dynamic than data types--integers, strings, booleans, etc--and the step from
data types to data structures seemed inductive. Inductive in the sense that
'higher' data structures are made out of 'lower' data structures (and/or
Constructing a program involves careful thought about the data structures
one wants to create. The algorithms are to some extent independent of the
data structures but, in the nitty gritty of the code, how the data is
accessed and processed and stored has very much to do with the data
structures. Also, the data structures determine quite a bit concerning not
only the complexity/efficiency of the methods/routines/processing that one
can perform on the data, but also whether one can really at all perform some
operations on the data.
But mostly, what I'm trying to say is that the study of data structures was
exciting to me because it seemed like I was studying the building blocks of
mental and creative process, not simply bland widgetry.
I agree that "mental states are computational states". Not that they are
'like' computational states, but that they *are* computational states.
Mental states are computational states in the sense that the brain deals in
coded information, and what it does with that internally coded information
is process it. Very likely in ways that are no more sophisticated than the
theoretical limits of Turing machines.
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