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Consciousness in the Body Basler Lecture IV. George Kampis, Wayne G. Basler Chair ETSU, Spring Semester 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Consciousness in the Body Basler Lecture IV. George Kampis, Wayne G. Basler Chair ETSU, Spring Semester 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Consciousness in the Body Basler Lecture IV. George Kampis, Wayne G. Basler Chair ETSU, Spring Semester 2007

2 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 2 Wayne G. Basler

3 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 3 Basler lectures 2007 Spring

4 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 4 Summary of talk The reports of the existence of consciousness are greatly exaggerated The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated. – Mark Twain

5 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 5 Summary? The reports of the nonexistence of consciousness are greatly exaggerated The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated. – Mark Twain

6 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 6 Summary, more flesh Consciousness is something we all experience but do not understand. The lecture presents new developments in consciousness research focusing on the notion of "embodiment", i.e. the consequences of having not just a mind, but a physical body. Embodiment is a feature of cognition that amplifies the role of built-in features of an organism. Under embodiment, several "intelligent" functions are available "for free" - such as when a cleverly built robot or a critter can avoid objects without using any control, relying exclusively on suitable bodily features. A recent upshot of these developments is the well-known vacuum cleaner that scans the whole room autonomously, without much electronics that could go wrong - it's mostly just wheels, joints, and the shape. Recent ideas in consciousness research emphasize a similar approach. Experience, the feature of yellow to be yellow-ish, or pain to be painful, does not seem to be a given or inexorable feature of cognition on this account. So why and how do we have conscious experience? Is it real at all? Who are we? I review some of the recent works and offer some disturbing thoughts.

7 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 7 Lecture Plan Part 0: What, Consciousness? Part I: Consciousness and Embodiment Part II: Externalism Part III: Active Perception Part IV: The Emerging Picture Summary

8 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 8 Part 0 What, Consciousness?

9 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 9 Consciousness, is it Science? Household word, many meanings Notorious, distant, „ultimate”, expelled/cancelled The Th. Metzinger / ESF story Danger of hypocrisy (as with evolution..) The Consciousness Turn (Dennett, Chalmers, Tucson, JCS, ASSC jnls 1994-) Dennett, Daniel (1991),Consciousness Explained, Penguin

10 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 10 Toward a Science of Consciousness – the Series

11 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 11 TSC2007, Budapest (Hung.CogSci.Foundation)

12 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 12 Journal of Consciousness Studies The field of consciousness studies is at a very early stage, characterized by crude theories, most of which are unlikely to stand the test of time. We prefer a broad, diverse and open conceptualization — including political consciousness, and ecological consciousness (for example in the sense of Bateson’s ‘ecology of mind’), but we do not wish to define for our authors exactly what any of these terms mean. We seek to provoke a spirited debate by actively seeking serious opposing views, for example from cognitive science, biology and philosophy. For if we are to make progress in studying consciousness, we will have to think about it very clearly, and engage in serious constructive dialogues between a variety of viewpoints. And that is the purpose of this journal. – Joseph A. Goguen, 1994

13 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 13

14 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 14 ASSC Journals PSYCHE (ISSN: X) is a free electronic journal dedicated to supporting the interdisciplinary exploration of the nature of consciousness and its relation to the brain. PSYCHE publishes material relevant to that exploration from the perspectives afforded by the disciplines of cognitive science, philosophy, psychology, physics, neuroscience, artificial intelligence and anthropology. Interdisciplinary discussions are particularly encouraged. Consciousness and Cognition: An International Journal provides a forum for a natural-science approach to the issues of consciousness, voluntary control, and self. The journal features empirical research (in the form of regular articles and short reports) and theoretical articles. Book reviews, integrative theoretical and critical literature reviews, and tutorial reviews are also published. The journal aims to be both scientifically rigorous and open to novel contributions.

15 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 15 Summary of Part 0 Consciousness may not be science but people do it

16 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 16 Part I Consciousness and Embodiment

17 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 17 The Many Forms of Consciousness Attention (focus) Experience (stream) Quality (qualia) Access (awareness) Representation (memory) Reflection (language) Will (causal power) Introspective/Buddhist accounts (several) -..etc

18 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 18 1st Person Methods Varela, FJ.; Thompson, E; Rosch, E (1991). The embodied mind: Cognitive science and human experience. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. Lutz A, Lachaux JP, Martinerie J, Varela FJ. (2002) : Guiding the study of brain dynamics by using first- person data: synchrony patterns correlate with ongoing conscious states during a simple visual task. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 5;99(3): pdf pdf

19 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 19 And now… For something completely (?) different….

20 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 20 Embodiment … is the opposite of this.

21 Embodiment is a concept that expresses the unity of the ‘mental’ world with the ‘physical’. On the notion of embodiment, the emphasis is on the situatedness of the individual in a causal and social environment, and on the impetus of situatedness on our understanding of the function and structure of the mind. Embodiment is an anti- Cartesian notion in a double sense in that it denies both abstract and detached ‘representations’ but also a separability of the mind from the body (Varela et al 1992, Sporns 2002). A consequence of embodiment is that many genuine ‘cognitive’ functions are exported to the body. One way to understand this can be via robotics. In order to build a robot controller, no adequate model of the robot or of the enviromnent is necessary: they are already their own best models (Brooks 1991). The task is just how to utilize them in order to achieve a certain goal – such as adaptive survival. Embodiment is having that ugly thing not just around but instead of your deep and beautiful thoughts.

22 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 22 An embodied robot can do ‘intelligent’ things without any control. It is instrumental to say that embodied minds are in fact ‘thinking bodies’. The body alone has much of what is required for embodied cognition, which on this view boils down to sensorimotor coordination (Sporns 2002). We may think of obstacle avoidance as an example here: the size and elasticity, and the built-in flexible motions of the body may serve as a ‘low level intelligence’ that can achieve the task without any ‘higher control’ (Nolfi and Floreano 2000). For example, a suitably built LEGO robot may use its side wheels to ‘roll off’ complex wall traps without any external programming. To be consistent with this picture of the ‘thinking body’, we should analyse not just the (anti-) representational cognitive consequences but also the bodily nature of cognitive experience.

23 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 23 Summary so far You don’t need much brains to be smart.

24 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 24 Part II Externalism

25 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 25 Have some fun

26 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 26 Have some fun

27 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 27 Have some fun

28 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 28 Change blindness, inattentional blindness Neisser U, 1979 ``The control of information pickup in selective looking'', in Perception and its Development: A Tribute to Eleanor J Gibson Ed. A D Pick (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates) pp Simons, D. J., & Levin, D. T. (1998). Failure to detect changes to people during a real-world interaction. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 5, Simons, D. J., & Chabris, C. F. (1999). Gorillas in our midst: Sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events. Perception, 28, Gorilla, changing person, changing colors, dis/appearing objects (Simons lab): K. O’Regan nivea.psycho.univ-paris5.fr/ Timeable demo: More stuff:

29 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 29 Inattentional blindness implies philosophical externalism Inattentional blindness implies philosophical externalism. Externalism is the view that an isolated mind is incomplete in itself. Under externalism, mental content is not just in the toughts and in the concepts (or percepts) of the individual, and cannot be understood without reference to the outside physical or social objects. Externalism claims that outside objects work as a kind of semantic memory used but not possessed by the individual, such as when an external visual field gives meaning to the otherwise meaningless and incomplete mental fragments that we use to ‘represent’ it (O’Regan and Noe 2001). ‘Change blindness’ phenomena can be understood as examples of externalism: the subject never represents the actual sight but relies on the external world as a source. Embodiment implies externalism because embodiment holds that cognitive events involve bodily interactions which lie, by their definition, outside the mind - as the latter term understood in the opposite view, internalism. Visual memory (and much else) is external. „Details are in the world” (Dennett) Now: “Human and animal cognition thus extends into the tools and other physical environmental states we exploit, hence the localized, biological body is less relevant to cognitive science than the extended, constantly changing, distributed physical system that at any given time includes parts of our environment as well as parts of our bodies” (Chrisley and Ziemke 2002). Can externalism’s view of the physical environment modify our understanding of consciousness?

30 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 30 Or does it? (1) vision is active and exploratory rather than passive; (2) knowledge of sensorimotor contingencies plays a central role in conscious vision; and (3) the whole visual system uses the world as an “outside memory.” „Two visual systems” (Goodale and Milner): conscious vision vs motor action

31 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 31 Summary so far You don’t need much brains to be smart. Need even less to know what’s going on.

32 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 32 Part III Active Perception

33 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 33 Sensorimotor perception theory Physical realization of actions is a key to understanding perception (A. Noe 2005). Many works in embodied and situated cogntition exist that assume that the role of the body is that it enters interactions with the world via an ‘environmental coupling’ (e.g. Tani 1998, Pfeiffer and Scheier 1999, Ikegami and Iizuka 2003). The term expresses the co-dependent nature of internal (‘mental’) and external (‘world-related’) variables as well as an iterative build-up of the joint behaviour of these variables in the form of a stable dynamic attractor.

34 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 34 Sensorimotor coupling

35 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 35 Perception as action no complete symmetry exists between organism and environment (also stressed by W. Freeman) the symmetry is broken by proactive causality (i.e. self-action with manipulative effects) e.g. visually guided approaching of food, touch and smell, taste and eat (difficult to tell where perception ends; perception-as-food involves the whole cycle up to the beginning of consumption) (hunting illustration goes here) (Golden Eagle in Ishikawa, K.Sudo) approach occurs in a very complex way, involves scaring-away attempts and other "tests", manipulation includes hiding behind the sun, etc - in order to identify the target from its similarly complex reactions

36 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 36 Example: shape perception

37 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 37 Next: Perceiving Qualia (A. Noë)

38 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 38 Are qualia private and given? Inverted qualia argument says yes. Zombie argument says yes. On the sensorimotor account, however, two individuals (two organisms) with the same or similar sensorimotor abilities and a compatible history of sensorimotor events must share the same subjective experience. Qualia are non-private and non-given.

39 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 39 Summary so far You don’t need much brains to be smart. You need even less to know what’s going on. Even your experience is in your hand, not in your head.

40 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 40 Part IV The Emerging Picture

41 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 41 The emerging picture The renaissance of the body. Sensorimotor control does everything; consciousness (and the mind) does nothing. There’s just one kind of stuff. (Nothing else exists, even in a remote and „tricky” sense not, such as by „emergence” or similar). But we just don’t like to think about that. cf. eliminative reductionism (Churchland et al)

42 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 42 So where do we stand on all this? Well, there is inexorable/good evidence for –Bundle theories /narrative self –Lack of specific causal power of c. –Time delay of experience to action –Dissociation bw. c. will and the experiencing of it –A fading integrity and continuity of the self –Etc., etc. So the naive picture of the mind is forever lost. Does it follow that consciousness is „unreal”? (It depends).

43 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 43 Still a function for consciousness? Many theories assume no. (Especially if combined with all the above). Yet most biologist think there must be a biological reason for its existence (or otherwise it just would not be there) Grasping this function might modify the overly pessimistic (?) recent picture Canditate functions: secondary control systems (of different kinds – e.g. slow and global, on top of fast and local, or a pleasure and pain based ressuffling of old action selection preference systems Related to the role of the ventral system? ….(several speculations exist) Could be similar to the immune system, endocryne system etc….

44 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 44 Summary You don’t need much brains to be smart. You need even less to know what’s going on. Even your experience is in your hand, not in your head. Consciousness must be less of a big deal then, but still may be worth having, after all..

45 Consciousness in the Body - Basler Lecture IV 45 Thank you!


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