The goal of this short chapter, aimed at philosophers, is to provide an overview and brief explanation of some central concepts involved in predictive processing (PP). Even those who consider themselves experts on the topic may find it helpful to see how the central terms are used in this collection. To keep things simple, we will first informally define a set of features important to predictive processing, supplemented by some short explanations and an alphabetic glossary. -/- The features described here (...) are not shared in all PP accounts. Some may not be necessary for an individual model; others may be contested. Indeed, not even all authors of this collection will accept all of them. To make this transparent, we have encouraged contributors to indicate briefly which of the features are necessary to support the arguments they provide, and which (if any) are incompatible with their account. For the sake of clarity, we provide the complete list here, very roughly ordered by how central we take them to be for “Vanilla PP” (i.e., a formulation of predictive processing that will probably be accepted by most researchers working on this topic). More detailed explanations will be given below. Note that these features do not specify individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for the application of the concept of “predictive processing”. All we currently have is a semantic cluster, with perhaps some overlapping sets of jointly sufficient criteria. The framework is still developing, and it is difficult, maybe impossible, to provide theory-neutral explanations of all PP ideas without already introducing strong background assumptions. (shrink)
Philosopher and scientist Thomas Metzinger argues that neuroscience's picture of the "self" as an emergent phenomenon of our biology and the attendant fact that the "self" can be manipulated--and even controlled--raises novel and serious ...
In mental action there is no motor output to be controlled and no sensory input vector that could be manipulated by bodily movement. It is therefore unclear whether this specific target phenomenon can be accommodated under the predictive processing framework at all, or if the concept of “active inference” can be adapted to this highly relevant explanatory domain. This contribution puts the phenomenon of mental action into explicit focus by introducing a set of novel conceptual instruments and developing a first (...) positive model, concentrating on epistemic mental actions and epistemic self-control. Action initiation is a functionally adequate form of self-deception; mental actions are a specific form of predictive control of effective connectivity, accompanied and possibly even functionally mediated by a conscious “epistemic agent model”. The overall process is aimed at increasing the epistemic value of pre-existing states in the conscious self-model, without causally looping through sensory sheets or using the non-neural body as an instrument for active inference. (shrink)
Genes adjacent to species-specific loci are 6.2% older than genes adjacent to other dynamic loci (P < 10âˆ’2 by randomization; gray bars in Fig. 3); thus, species-specific genes are not randomly distributed but are found preferentially in the older regions, indicating that the incipient Escherichia and Salmonella lineages continued to participate in recombination at loci unlinked to lineage-specific genes.
This metatheoretical paper investigates mind wandering from the perspective of philosophy of mind. It has two central claims. The first is that, on a conceptual level, mind wandering can be fruitfully described as a specific form of mental autonomy loss. The second is that, given empirical constraints, most of what we call “conscious thought” is better analyzed as a subpersonal process that more often than not lacks crucial properties traditionally taken to be the hallmark of personal-level cognition - such as (...) mental agency, explicit, consciously experienced goal-directedness, or availability for veto control. I claim that for roughly two thirds of our conscious life-time we do not possess mental autonomy (M-autonomy) in this sense. Empirical data from research on mind wandering and nocturnal dreaming clearly show that phenomenally represented cognitive processing is mostly an automatic, non-agentive process and that personal-level cognition is an exception rather than the rule. This raises an interesting new version of the mind-body problem: How is subpersonal cognition causally related to personal-level thought? More fine-grained phenomenological descriptions for what we called “conscious thought” in the past are needed, as well as a functional decomposition of umbrella terms like “mind wandering” into different target phenomena and a better understanding of the frequent dynamic transitions between spontaneous, task-unrelated thought and meta-awareness. In an attempt to lay some very first conceptual foundations for the now burgeoning field of research on mind wandering, the third section proposes two new criteria for individuating single episodes of mind-wandering, namely, the “self-representational blink” (SRB) and a sudden shift in the phenomenological “unit of identification” (UI). I close by specifying a list of potentially innovative research goals that could serve to establish a stronger connection between mind wandering research and philosophy of mind. (shrink)
This metatheoretical paper develops a list of new research targets by exploring particularly promising interdisciplinary contact points between empirical dream research and philosophy of mind. The central example is the MPS-problem. It is constituted by the epistemic goal of conceptually isolating and empirically grounding the phenomenal property of “minimal phenomenal selfhood,” which refers to the simplest form of self-consciousness. In order to precisely describe MPS, one must focus on those conditions that are not only causally enabling, but strictly necessary to (...) bring it into existence. This contribution argues that research on bodiless dreams, asomatic out-of-body experiences, and full-body illusions has the potential to make decisive future contributions. Further items on the proposed list of novel research targets include differentiating the concept of a “first-person perspective” on the subcognitive level; investigating relevant phenomenological and neurofunctional commonalities between mind-wandering and dreaming; comparing the functional depth of embodiment across dream and wake states; and demonstrating that the conceptual consequences of cognitive corruption and systematic rationality deficits in the dream state are much more serious for philosophical epistemology (and, perhaps, the methodology of dream research itself) than commonly assumed. The paper closes by specifying a list of potentially innovative research goals that could serve to establish a stronger connection between dream research and philosophy of mind. (shrink)
The contributions to this book are original articles, representing a cross-section of current philosophical work on consciousness and thereby allowing students and readers from other disciplines to acquaint themselves with the very latest debate, so that they can then pursue their own research interests more effectively. The volume includes a bibliography on consciousness in philosophy, cognitive science and brain research, covering the last 25 years and consisting of over 1000 entries in 18 thematic sections, compiled by David Chalmers and Thomas (...) Metzinger. (shrink)
This is the first in a series of instalments aiming at a minimal model explanation for conscious experience, taking the phenomenal character of “pure consciousness” or “pure awareness” in meditation as its entry point. It develops the concept of “minimal phenomenal experience” as a candidate for the simplest form of consciousness, substantiating it by extracting six semantic constraints from the existing literature and using sixteen phenomenological case-studies to incrementally flesh out the new working concept. One empirical hypothesis is that the (...) phenomenological prototype of “pure awareness”, to which all such reports refer, really is the content of a predictive model, namely, a Bayesian representation of tonic alertness. On a more abstract conceptual level, it can be described as a model of an unpartitioned epistemic space. (shrink)
The goal of this article is to present a first list of ethical concerns that may arise from research and personal use of virtual reality (VR) and related technology, and to offer concrete recommendations for minimizing those risks. Many of the recommendations call for focused research initiatives. In the first part of the article, we discuss the relevant evidence from psychology that motivates our concerns. In Section “Plasticity in the Human Mind,” we cover some of the main results suggesting that (...) one’s environment can influence one’s psychological states, as well as recent work on inducing illusions of embodiment. Then, in Section “Illusions of Embodiment and Their Lasting Effect,” we go on to discuss recent evidence indicating that immersion in VR can have psychological effects that last after leaving the virtual environment. In the second part of the article, we turn to the risks and recommendations. We begin, in Section “The Research Ethics of VR,” with the research ethics of VR, covering six main topics: the limits of experimental environments, informed consent, clinical risks, dual-use, online research, and a general point about the limitations of a code of conduct for research. Then, in Section “Risks for Individuals and Society,” we turn to the risks of VR for the general public, covering four main topics: long-term immersion, neglect of the social and physical environment, risky content, and privacy. We offer concrete recommendations for each of these 10 topics, summarized in Table 1. (shrink)
What we traditionally call ‘conscious thought’ actually is a subpersonal process, and only rarely a form of mental action. The paradigmatic, standard form of conscious thought is non-agentive, because it lacks veto-control and involves an unnoticed loss of epistemic agency and goal-directed causal self-determination at the level of mental content. Conceptually, it must be described as an unintentional form of inner behaviour. Empirical research shows that we are not mentally autonomous subjects for about two thirds of our conscious lifetime, because (...) while conscious cognition is unfolding, it often cannot be inhibited, suspended, or terminated. The instantiation of a stable first- person perspective as well as of certain necessary conditions of personhood turn out to be rare, graded, and dynamically variable properties of human beings. I argue that individual representational events only become part of a personal-level process by being functionally integrated into a specific form of transparent conscious self-representation, the ‘epistemic agent model’. The EAM may be the true origin of our consciously experienced firstperson perspective. (shrink)
A representationalist analysis of strong first-person phenomena is developed (Baker 1998), and it is argued that conscious, cognitive self-reference can be naturalized under this representationalist analysis. According to this view, the phenomenal first-person perspective is a condition of possibility for the emergence of a cognitive first-person perspective. Cognitive self-reference always is reference to the phenomenal content of a transparent self-model. The concepts of phenomenal transparency and introspection are clarified. More generally, I suggest that the concepts of phenomenal opacity and phenomenal (...) transparency are interesting instruments for analyzing conscious, self-representational content, and that their relevance in understanding reflexive, i.e., cognitive subjectivity may have been overlooked in the past. (shrink)
In this speculative paper I would like to show how important the integration of mental content is for a theory of phenomenal consciousness. I will draw the reader's attention to two manifestations of this problem which already play a role in the empirical sciences concerned with consciousness: The binding problem and the superposition problem. In doing so I hope to be able to leave the welltrodden paths of the debate over consciousness. My main concern is to gain a fresh access (...) to the familiar theoretical difficulties associated with the concept of 'consciousness'. (shrink)
Before one can even begin to model consciousness and what exactly it means that it is a subjective phenomenon one needs a theory about what a first-person perspective really is. This theory has to be conceptually convincing, empirically plausible and, most of all, open to new developments. The chosen conceptual framework must be able to accommodate scientific progress. Its ba- sic assumptions have to be plastic as it were, so that new details and empirical data can continuously be fed into (...) the theoretical model as it grows and becomes more refined. This paper makes an attempt at sketching the outlines of such a theory, offering a representationalist analysis of the phenomenal first-person perspective. Three phenomenal target properties are centrally relevant. (shrink)
To have an ontology is to interpret a world. In this paper we argue that the brain, viewed as a representational system aimed at interpreting our world, possesses an ontology too. It creates primitives and makes existence assumptions. It decomposes target space in a way that exhibits a certain invariance, which in turn is functionally significant. We will investigate which are the functional regularities guiding this decomposition process, by answering to the following questions: What are the explicit and implicit assumptions (...) about the structure of reality, which at the same time shape the causal profile of the brain's motor output and its representational deep structure, in particular of the conscious mind arising from it (its ''phenomenal output'')? How do they constrain high-level phenomena like conscious experience, the emergence of a first-person perspective, or social cognition? By reviewing a series of neuroscientific results and integrating them with a wider philosophical perspective, we will emphasize the contribution the motor system makes to this process. As it will be shown, the motor system constructs goals, actions, and intending selves as basic constituents of the world it interprets. It does so by assigning a single, unified causal role to them. Empirical evidence demonstrates that the brain models movements and action goals in terms of multimodal representations of organism-object-relations. Under a representationalist analysis, this process can be conceived of as an internal, dynamic representation of the intentionality-relation itself. We will show how such a complex form of representational content, once it is in place, can later function as a functional building block for social cognition and for a more complex, consciously experienced representation of the first-person perspective as well. (shrink)
The representational dynamics of the brain is a subsymbolic process, and it has to be conceived as an "agent-free" type of dynamical self-organization. However, in generating a coherent internal world-model, the brain decomposes target space in a certain way. In doing so, it defines an "ontology": to have an ontology is to interpret a world. In this paper we argue that the brain, viewed as a representational system aimed at interpreting the world, possesses an ontology too. It decomposes target space (...) in a way that exhibits certain invariances, which in turn are functionally significant. A challenge for empirical research is to determine which are the functional regularities guiding this decomposition process. What are the explicit and implicit assumptions about the structure of reality, which at the same time shape the causal profile of the brain's motor output and the representational deep structure of the conscious mind arising from it (its "phenomenal output")? How do they constrain high-level phenomena like conscious experience, the emergence of a first-person perspective, or social cognition? By reviewing a series of neuroscientific results, we focus on the contribution the motor system makes to this process. As it turns out, the motor system constructs goals, actions, and intending selves as basic constituents of the world it interprets. It does so by assigning a single, unified causal role to them. Empirical evidence now clearly shows how the brain actually codes movements and action goals in terms of multimodal representations of organism-object relations. Under a representationalist analysis, this process can be interpreted as an internal representation of the intentionality relation itself. We try to show how such a more complex form of representational content, once it is in place, can later function as the building block for social cognition and a for more complex, consciously experienced representation of the first-person perspective as well. The motor system may therefore play a decisive role in understanding how the functional ontology of the human brain could be gradually extended into the subjective and social domains. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophical and scienti .c discussions of mind developed from a 'proto-concept of mind ',a mythical,tradition- alistic,animistic and quasi-sensory theory about what it means to have a mind. It can be found in many di .erent cultures and has a semantic core corresponding to the folk-phenomenological notion of a 'soul '.It will be argued that this notion originates in accurate and truthful .rst-person reports about the experiential content of a special neurophenomenological state-class called 'out-of-body experiences '.They can be undergone by (...) every human being and seem to possess a culturally invariant cluster of functional and phenomenal core properties similar to the proto-concept of mind. The common causal factor in the emergence and development of the notion of the soul and the proto-concept of mind may consist in a yet to be determined set of properties realized by the human brain, underlying the cluster of phenomenal properties described in the relevant first-person reports. This hypothesis suggests that such a neurofunctional substrate ed human beings at different times, and in widely varying cultural contexts, to postulate the existence of a soul and to begin developing a theory of mind. (shrink)
conscious content like ``the self in the act of In 1989 the philosopher Colin McGinn asked the knowing'' (see, e.g., chapters 7 and 20 in this following question: ``How can technicolor phe- volume) or high-level phenomenal properties like nomenology arise from soggy gray matter?'' ``coherence'' or ``holism'' (e.g., chapters 8 and 9 (1989: 349). Since then many authors in the ®eld in this volume). But what, precisely, does it mean of consciousness research have quoted this ques- that conscious experience has (...) a ``content''? Is tion over and over, like a slogan that in a nut- this an entity open to empirical research pro- shell conveys a deep and important theoretical grams and interdisciplinary cooperation? And problem. It seems that almost none of them dis- what would it mean to map this content onto covered the subtle trap inherent in this question. physical states ``under a certain description''? In The brain is not gray. The brain is colorless. other words: What kinds of relations a. (shrink)
This is a short sketch of some central ideas developed in my recent book _Being No One_ (BNO hereafter). A more systematic summary, which focuses on short answers to a set of specific, individual questions is already contained _in _the book, namely as BNO section 8.2. Here, I deliberately and completely exclude all work related to semantically differentiating and empirically constraining the philosophical concept of a "quale" (mostly Chapter 2, 3 & 8), all proposals regarding conceptual foundations for the overall (...) theory (2 & 5), all of the neurophenomenological case-studies used to test and refine it (4 & 7), and all remarks of a more general or methodological character (1 & 8). In particular, the present Pr. (shrink)
This article explores the ‘no-self alternative’ in the debate on the metaphysical and phenomenological concept of the self. It suggests that the no-self alternative may not be an alternative at all and it could simply be the default assumption for all rational approaches to self-consciousness and subjectivity. It outlines several different anti-realist arguments about the self and explains why the idea that there are no selves is counter-intuitive. It shows why the intuitions of phenomenology are traceable to the contingent fact (...) about the causal structure of our brains, which induces in each of us a first-person perspective that makes it difficult to deny the existence of selves. (shrink)
Gallagher is right in pointing out that scientific realism is an implicit background assumption of BNO, and that I did not give an independent argument for it. He is also right in saying that science does not _demonstrate_ the existence of certain entities, but that it assumes those entities in a process of explanation and theory formation. However, it is not true that science, as Gallagher writes (p.2), “simply” assumes the reality of certain things: such assumptions are embedded in the (...) context of an attempt to find the_ minimal _ set of ontological assumptions one has to make relative to a set of explanatory goals and relative to a specific data set in a certain domain. This parsimonious spirit is also the <blockquote> PSYCHE: http://psyche.cs.monash.edu.au/ </blockquote> spirit of SMT, which can be seen as a search for the minimal conditions under which a phenomenal self and a consciously experienced first-person perspective can emerge. (shrink)
We decided to use our editors’ introduction to briefly address a difficult, somewhat deeper, and in some ways more classical problem: that of what genuine open mindedness really is and how it can contribute to the Mind Sciences. The material in the collection speaks for itself. Here, and in contrast to the vast collection that is Open MIND, we want to be concise. We want to point to the broader context of a particular way of thinking about the mind. And (...) we want to propose an account of what open mindedness could mean in the context of the contemporary, interdisciplinary Mind Sciences. This variant of open mindedness is characterized by epistemic humility, intellectual honesty, and a new culture of charity. It also has a pragmatic dimension: open mindedness of this kind is research generating and fosters an environment of sincere and constructive interdisciplinary collaboration. And it is profoundly inspired by the classical ideals of philosophy as a pursuit of genuine insight and rational inquiry, the importance of a critical and in a certain sense non-judgmental attitude, and the deep relationship between wisdom and skepticism as an epistemic practice. Finally, and again very classically, open mindedness has an ethical dimension as well: it implies sensitivity to normative issues, including issues of an anthropological, sociocultural, and political kind. By bringing these different strands of ideas together and creating a bigger (and admittedly still sketchy) picture of what “open mindedness” might mean in the interdisciplinary Mind Sciences, we hope to start a conversation about how an open-minded attitude and a charitable culture of collaboration can be cultivated in the future. This is very much intended as an invitation to further think about and develop this topic. We hope our readers will join us in this endeavor. DOI: 10.15502/9783958571044 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.15502/9783958571044 ISBN: 9783958571044. (shrink)
Cognitive enhancement aims at optimizing a specific class of information-processing functions: cognitive functions, physically realized by the human brain. This article deals with ethical issues in cognitive enhancement. It discusses some standard conceptual issues related to the notion of “cognitive enhancement” and then continues from a purely descriptive point of view by briefly reviewing some empirical aspects and sketching the current situation. Several enhancement strategies are being tested and used. Then the chapter offers some reflections on the treatment or enhancement (...) distinction. It turns to normative issues by describing standard topics in current debates, then highlighting three examples of relevant novel questions under an ethical perspective. It is of central importance to be able to draw on long-term studies yielding data on the benefits, risks, and side-effects involved in the use of such substances over months and years. It concludes by making some general proposals for policy makers. (shrink)
This is an edited collection of 39 original papers and as many commentaries and replies. The target papers and replies were written by senior members of the MIND Group, while all commentaries were written by junior group members. All papers and commentaries have undergone a rigorous process of anonymous peer review, during which the junior members of the MIND Group acted as reviewers. The final versions of all the target articles, commentaries and replies have undergone additional editorial review. -/- Besides (...) offering a cross-section of ongoing, cutting-edge research in philosophy and cognitive science, this collection is also intended to be a free electronic resource for teaching. It therefore also contains a selection of online supporting materials, pointers to video and audio files and to additional free material supplied by the 92 authors represented in this volume. We will add more multimedia material, a searchable literature database, and tools to work with the online version in the future. All contributions to this collection are strictly open access. They can be downloaded, printed, and non-commercially reproduced by anyone. DOI: 10.15502/9783958571020 http://dx.doi.org/10.15502/9783958571020 ISBN: 978-3-95857-102-0. (shrink)
“Identity disorders” constitute a large class of psychiatric disturbances that, due to deviant forms of self-modeling, result in dramatic changes in the patients’ phenomenal experience of their own personal identity. The phenomenal experience of selfhood and transtemporal identity can vary along an extremely large number of dimensions: There are simple losses of content. There are also various typologies of phenomenal disintegration as in schizophrenia, in depersonalization disorders and in_ Dissociative Identity Disorder_, sometimes accompanied by multiplications of the phenomenal self within (...) one and the same physical system. It is important to not only analyze these state-classes in terms of functional deficits or phenomenology alone, but as _self-representational _content as well. For instance, in the second type of cases just mentioned, we confront major redistributions of the phenomenal property of "mineness” in representational space, of what is sometimes also called the “sense of ownership”. Finally, there are at least four different delusions of misidentification. Being a philosopher, I will discuss two particular types of identity disorder _ 2 _ in this contribution - disorders, which are of direct philosophical relevance: A specific form of DM, and the Cotard delusion. Why should philosophers do this? And why should psychiatrists care? (shrink)
This is a brief and accessible English summary of the "Self-model Theory of Subjectivity" (SMT), which is only available as German book in this archive. It introduces two new theoretical entities, the "phenomenal self-model" (PSM) and the "phenomenal model of the intentionality-relation" PMIR. A representationalist analysis of the phenomenal first-person persepctive is offered. This is a revised version, including two pictures.
An evaluating survey of the development of the neuroethics of pharmaceutical cognitive enhancement (PCE) during the last decade, focussing on the situation in Germany, has been undertaken. This article presents the most important conceptual problems, current substances and central ethical and legal issues. Very first guidelines and recommendations for policy-makers are formulated at the end of the text.
Das Ziel dieses Beitrags besteht darin, eine kurze Darstellung der "Selbstmodell-Theorie der Subjektivität" (SMT) anzubieten, die sich an naturwissenschaftlich orientierte Leser richtet, die selbst keine Philosophen sind, aber dennoch an philosophischen Theorien des Selbstbewusstseins interessiert sind.
Zoltan Jakab has presented an interesting conceptual analysis of the ineffability of qualia in a functionalist and classical cognitivist framework. But he does not want to commit himself to a certain metaphysical thesis on the ontology of consciousness or qualia. We believe that his strategy has yielded a number of highly relevant and interesting insights, but still suffers from some minor inconsistencies and a certain lack of phenomenological and empirical plausibility. This may be due to some background assumptions relating to (...) the theory of mental representation employed. Jakab. (shrink)
Allan Hobson praises and accuses me. He praises me for being empirically informed. And he accuses me of being a “third-person half-some-one” . Specifically, he encourages me to come out of the closet, share some of my own first-person phenomenological experiences, and stop hiding behind neurophenomenological case studies taken from the existing scientific literature. Which I will do, below. But let us first begin with a matter of conceptual controversy.
The article presents a critical survey of the philosophical discussion of the mind-body-problem since the collapse of Rylean behaviourism. The major theories (identity theories, supervenience, emergentist materialism, dualist interactionism and functionalism) are sketched and briefly evaluated with regard to their advantages and disadvantages. The conclusion is that no satisfactory theory about the relation between mental and neurophysiological states exists today, but considerable progress has been made regarding the contours of this cluster of problems. A catalogue of criteria which every future (...) theory concerning the mind-body problem must fulfill is given at the end. (shrink)