[ExI] Meaningless Symbols.

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sat Jan 16 02:13:09 UTC 2010

2010/1/16 Gordon Swobe <gts_2000 at yahoo.com>:
> --- On Thu, 1/14/10, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Presumably for the brain you don't believe the code or the
>> algorithm implemented by neural networks firing gives rise
>> to understanding,
> If the brain uses code or implements algorithms at all (and it probably does not) then it must do something else besides. The computationalist theory of mind simply fails to explain the facts.

The primary visual cortex (V1) is isomorphic with the visual field.
Certain neurons fire when you see a vertical line and different
neurons fire when you see a horizontal line. The basic pattern
information is passed on to deeper layers of the cortex, V2-V5, where
it is processed further and gives rise to perception of more complex
visual phenomena, such as perception of foreground moving on
background and face recognition. The individual neurons follow
relatively simple rules determining when they fire, but the network of
neurons behaves in a complex way due to the complex interconnections.
The purpose of the internal machinery of the neuron is to ensure that
it behaves appropriately in response to input from other neurons. The
important point here is that the neuron follows an algorithm which has
no hint in it of visual perception. If you replaced parts of the
neuron with artificial components that left the algorithm unchanged,
the neuron would function normally and the subject's perception would
be normal. It wouldn't matter what the artificial components were made
of as long as the neuron behaved normally; and as discussed this is
true with the strength of logical necessity, unless you are willing to
entertain what I consider an incoherent notion of consciousness.
Moreover, it is the pattern of interconnected neurons firing that is
necessary and sufficient for the person's behaviour, so if
consciousness is something over and above this it would seem to be
completely superfluous. But if you still think that the consciousness
of the brain resides in the actual matter of the neurons rather than
their function, then you could consistently maintain that it resides
in the matter of the modified neurons provided that they still
functioned normally.

Stathis Papaioannou

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