Explaining Bakker

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« on: April 21, 2013, 01:17:13 am »
Don't ask me how, but I got hold of a couple of neurolinguistics researchers, and attempted to present some of Bakker's work to them.

One I had read Notes Toward A Post-Normative Philosophy.

He replied by email:

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I don't understand it myself. None of the terms Bakker uses are familiar to me from the literature, and his writing is extremely dense and confusing. He presents no clear cognitive model, no contrasting hypotheses and no ways of testing them. This just doesn't look like good science to me, and while I'm open to new ideas they must be conveyed in a way I can understand. If Bakker is a scientist he should write like one: clearly and succinctly. If he is not, then he should make an effort to talk to scientists in their own language so long as he wishes to be understood.

Another I read (in person) some excerpts from Bakker's old lecture Semantic Apocalypse, as well as some TPB posts for supplement and clarification.

To paraphrase:

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She: This is so amazing!
I: *sub rosa fist-pump*
She: None of this makes any sense!
I: Well, he is a philosopher.
She: Usually, when I read philosophy I can understand it.

...

I: *explaining the gist of the Blind-Brain Hypothesis.*
She: He's not even a scientist. Does he have any evidence for this?
I: Well, if you would just read these essays...
She:  :o  :-\
I: Alright, how about this blog post...

...

She: This Bakker guy seems to be taking the obvious and coming to really weird conclusions from it.
She: I don't think I'm his part of his target audience. 

Well, Bakker loves to go on about how he's actually arguing with his writing, putting across important ideas to unlike-minded audiences, and so on.

And yet, if no one understands what the fuck he's talking about... Perhaps he should tone down the diction?

I myself must admit that I understand little of Bakker's posts and essays beyond their main point, especially his writings of the past year-and-a-half. I'm often mystified by his terminology, analogies, and thought process. I used to attribute this to my own stupidity, but these guys quoted above are legitimate scientists...

Thoughts? Does Bakker just make perfect sense to you all?

If not, perhaps we could collectively back a strongly-worded email advising him to tone down his obscurantist language if he actually wants to promulgate his ideas beyond like, a thousand fans and fellow crackpots?

Callan S.

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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2013, 08:36:21 am »
There was this bus ticket information guy at the bus stop the other day - supposedly to give out new information (mostly about them scraping paper tickets, the butt heads). I tried asking him another question about the zone we were in, when using a ticket machine.

It was really quite facinating how he fluidly veered around the fact that he didn't have a clue, even as he wore the big blue jacket of the company in question.

How good people are at avoiding saying they don't know.

Your first example
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This just doesn't look like good science to me, and while I'm open to new ideas they must be conveyed in a way I can understand.
is taking the easy way out - he's trying to appear reasonable by wanting the whole thing, with complete research and writing up, explained to him. Or he'll ignore it. He's not treating it as an opportunity to start research himself, he just wants someone else to do all the research, then present it to him. In a way it's alot more open minded than most because I think he would listen to it when presented in the form he refers to. But in another way it ignores question marks as any kind of opportunity. He wont say 'Well, there are some question marks there, but I aint got the time to chase them up (there's a universe full of question marks and I have my own to pursue)'. Everyone wants to think they have good reason to ignore something, so he invents a good reason. Ironically, it's a symptom of heuristic compression itself - the compression being to cut off any 'I wonder' question marks (they eat up calories like the Dickens!) and instead to go with 'no, there's no reason to think about that'.

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She: None of this makes any sense!
I see this alot - you say something complicated, but even if you stuck 'the sky is blue' in the middle of it, the person would still say EVERYTHING you said made no sense! 'The sky is blue' made no sense?  'Heuristic compression' isn't that complex to grasp. Perhaps applying it to the brain is, but then again understanding refraction of light is complicated as well. But no acknowledgement of even part of the document making sense.

Pride is the main issue here. No one wants to take a random document out of the blue and let it shame by them acknowledging 'hey, some bits make sense, so there's some legitimacy to it, but I don't understand alot of it - oh, I guess that reduces my hard earned legitimacy somewhat?'. Who wants to hand over their legitimacy to a random scrap of paper? Really?

And so I complete my knocking of the readers...

I think spare times a thing. Were talking question marks which may be of interest to pursue. Someone who's schedule is full (or atleast they think it's full) obviously doesn't have any time left for new question marks. Though they most likely wont admit it.

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Thoughts? Does Bakker just make perfect sense to you all?
I've studied other models who's texts made more sense years after the first read - like the gamist/simulationist/narrativist theory of roleplay inclination, for example. If you're a long term roleplayer that might seem utterly alien from first contact.

But there I go avoiding saying I don't understand it/cannot full model all of it that is described.

Perhaps we could break it down to the question marks that, whether we grasp the question right or not, we find the question interesting.

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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2013, 09:33:55 am »
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How good people are at avoiding saying they don't know.

That's rather unfair, and avoids much of their responses.

Quote from: Researchers
1. I don't understand it myself. None of the terms Bakker uses are familiar to me from the literature, and his writing is extremely dense and confusing. He presents no clear cognitive model, no contrasting hypotheses and no ways of testing them. This just doesn't look like good science to me, and while I'm open to new ideas they must be conveyed in a way I can understand. If Bakker is a scientist he should write like one: clearly and succinctly. If he is not, then he should make an effort to talk to scientists in their own language so long as he wishes to be understood.

2. Usually, when I read philosophy I can understand it.

Their issue here seems primarily to be with Bakker's language and the way he presents his ideas.

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is taking the easy way out - he's trying to appear reasonable by wanting the whole thing, with complete research and writing up, explained to him. Or he'll ignore it.

My impression is that a mere rewording of Bakker would be more fruitful than these sorts of aspersions.

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Pride is the main issue here. No one wants to take a random document out of the blue and let it shame by them acknowledging 'hey, some bits make sense, so there's some legitimacy to it, but I don't understand alot of it - oh, I guess that reduces my hard earned legitimacy somewhat?'. Who wants to hand over their legitimacy to a random scrap of paper? Really?

Is one obliged to respect what seems to one like incoherent ramblings? Which is more effective in writing, engagement or alienation? At any rate, neither you nor I can rebuke another for perceived pridefulness without coming off, as Bakker might put it, as "Hitler condemning Jesus Christ for hatefulness".

Ultimately, it's likely my fault - even what I understand of Bakker... the thing is, to begin to understand Bakker one really must read him extensively. I just haven't selected the appropriate excerpts, most likely. Also, I had read these Bakker pieces in the links multiple times and very closely, which probably wasn't passed along for the recipient of my little presentation or in the evident 20 minutes that the other one took to read and respond to the TPB post (judging by email response time).

I'll try a different approach with these two next time - if they'll humor me again. I'm currently starting to read Bakker's critical essay on the BBT, which hopefully will be written in a manner more appropriate to this type of reader; I'll reiterate the basic concept and as much of the 'rigorous proofs' as I'm able, and direct them to the thing itself to judge on their own time. Moreover, I'll adopt some of your language and ask:

1. Whether there's not anything in my expatiation or in Bakker's writings directly which they can more or less grasp.
2. Whether any of it seems interesting to consider (given their purviews) from Bakker's or even another's/their own perspective.
3. Whether there's not anything insightful or plausible in Bakker's evidences, given what they know about the brain.

I'll try that out next week, if possible.

Also, I ought to have noted that one of the above is not actually a native speaker of English! You can probably guess which one: they complained that "wow, my vocabulary is not that big"...


Wilshire

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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2013, 02:29:45 pm »
I think the opinions of your scientists seems reasonable. I'm not going to say I have spent any reasonable amount of time looking into Bakker's philosophies, but from what I have looked at, I can say that I felt similar to your quoted opinions. I, however, and just some guy off the street. One would hope that someone that is, more or less, in the field of study that the paper was written about, would be able to more fully grasp what the hell was going on.

Though the credentials of your readers may be important. I don't know what the paper(s) were about, and I don't know how much a 'neruolinguistic researcher' would know about it. However, what I can say is that Bakker does not write scientifically, and the people in the scientific community expect a certain kind of writing. I don't know how much Bakker claims to be a scientist, but he certainly isn't doing 'science' on a day to day basis. Philosophy and science can be more or less similar depending on how theoretical ones research is. I would imagine that your readers, since they are doing research (which I take to me actually doing experiments and developing working models of theories) that philosophy is not close to heart. Practical science, outside the realm of purely theoretical stuff, is not much like philosophy, and the practitioners would not appreciate something like the texts written by Bakker.

This is because, like they said, he isn't a scientist. I'm sure he could write something that could be more comprehensible for a scientific audiance, but from what I've seen, most of his work is not for them. Its for the philosophers. His papers are not scientific papers.

Go to google scholar or something similar and look up a journal article regarding something scientific.  You'll find a very similar design in all of them. They will start with an abstract, then go into their hypothesis, then a theory section, then their apparatus and method for testing, data and discussion, and finally the conclusions they came to. There will also be an appendix section.

There is not a lot of fluff. Not a lot of confusing dialect and complex sentence structure. The only thing that may be confusing are the terms that are very specific to the research itself, and these things are usually explained in the appendix, accompanied by all the references they used for their work.

Peer-reviewed scientific journal articles go through a rigorous process to get published, and their findings are typically more accurate and more reliable than textbooks or papers, since those can be written by just a few people and hold no obligation to be accurate.

I'm just trying to say I can understand the stance of the your scientists. Bakker is a philosopher not a scientist, and grabbing any random scientist from the street and asking them to interpret his writing will probably yield you the same result over and over again.

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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2013, 08:54:48 pm »
A very reasonable assessment; my only complaint is that it condemns Bakker to irrelevance - unless he's not really a post-posterity writer...

Although, perhaps I should have been more careful with my labels. While I did approach them in their capacity as such, they certainly do their fair share of theoretical work in syntax and semantics, from what I've learned, though one more so than the other (who is a full-on cognitive scientist). For the she, in fact, neurolinguistics is more of a sideshow, and one of her degrees is an MPhil in Linguistics; then again, I do recall her saying:

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Wow, I really don't know philosophy...

She didn't even believe there was such a thing as neurophilosophy until I wiki'd it for her.

Baztek

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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2013, 09:11:25 pm »
Bakker's ideas are fairly straightforward, but readability is a whole other story. Sitting down and reading a blog post of his from start to finish is as about as fun as pinching a loaf when you're constipated: it feels great when you're done, but there's a whole lotta grunting and pushing to get there. I never read his blog anymore and frankly I only keep it bookmarked for TUC updates.

Not to be the typical unsatisfied fantasy fan, but I think he'd get a lot more done if he didn't write mammoth dissertations on theories of the mind that only his userbase reads anyway. Like whatever, it's his life, who the fuck am I to tell him what to do etc, but the guy has a great knack for philosophically dense stories and I think a lot of that productivity is getting channeled into more fruitless endeavors.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2013, 09:16:00 pm by Baztek »

Wilshire

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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2013, 10:07:16 pm »
Yeah I would agree that the judgment passed was a bit harsh. Sure his stuff isn't a breeze to read, but there is no rule that it has to be. It isn't a scientific article and should lose points because of that fact. It might not be what one generally reads, but just because you dislike how it is written doesn't mean it is garbage.
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Callan S.

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« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2013, 02:11:05 am »
That's rather unfair, and avoids much of their responses.
I think my responce left some room for appeal and discussion, rather than just being a concluding judgement.

If it didn't and just seemed just a concluding judgement from me, okay, fair enough you responding with a concluding judgement yourself.

Okay, your judgement that it's just unfair (case closed) is heard and that you offer no appeal process is recognised.

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Their issue here seems primarily to be with Bakker's language and the way he presents his ideas.
I talked about it, but it just turned out to be unfair.

It takes two to tango - writer AND reader. I think you're quote just looks at one side as if they handle all of the dance themselves. I say that with room to appeal though, let me make clear this time.

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is taking the easy way out - he's trying to appear reasonable by wanting the whole thing, with complete research and writing up, explained to him. Or he'll ignore it.
My impression is that a mere rewording of Bakker would be more fruitful than these sorts of aspersions.
I certainly projected my values onto it. That doesn't mean the physical actions I describe aren't happening.

But if the rule is that if I'm not completely affirming then I'll be dismissed, okay. But if I'm completely affirming, then everyones right (well, except Bakker).

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Pride is the main issue here. No one wants to take a random document out of the blue and let it shame by them acknowledging 'hey, some bits make sense, so there's some legitimacy to it, but I don't understand alot of it - oh, I guess that reduces my hard earned legitimacy somewhat?'. Who wants to hand over their legitimacy to a random scrap of paper? Really?

Is one obliged to respect what seems to one like incoherent ramblings? Which is more effective in writing, engagement or alienation?
Obliged by some sort of god being? Or obliged by a recognition that tons of ideas that have atleast been scientifically proved in history have been dismissed as incoherant ramblings before that, by many people?

That a cursory look at history shows that time and time again sufficiently advanced truth can appear to many as incoherant rambles? And there's really not much to make it clear that oneself is going to be immune to that effect?

You can argue I'm wrong and nobodies every treated an eventually scientifically proven idea as incoherant rambling. If so I atleast agree you're consistant with how you see history.

But if you agree rather than argue that, well what, are you advocating that these people you know will be the ones who are immune to what many others have succumbed to in the past - seeing a coherant idea as incoherant?

Otherwise they are obliged by intellectual honesty to treat themselves as potentially sucumbing to the 'incoherant ramblings' effect.

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At any rate, neither you nor I can rebuke another for perceived pridefulness without coming off, as Bakker might put it, as "Hitler condemning Jesus Christ for hatefulness".
Okay?

So there was a rebuke somewhere? An implication that someone simply MUST change their behaviour? Perhaps you're saying from me?

To me, you've come in with a problem, like a guy bringing in a car to a garage - I'm just a mechanic. You think the problem is X, I tell you it's Y. When I tell you it's Y, it's my technical evaluation - not a finger waving proclamation of how thou must live. You can take your car to another garage. In a way, I'm indifferent if you don't care to engage the services of my garage. I was just offering a quote.

Never mind I have to wonder at christianities death toll total over the ages, compared to hitlers score. But damn I'm stupid to wonder such things and obviously start fighting a discussion war on a second front as well as the first. And yet...intellectually I'm compelled to wonder.

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1. Whether there's not anything in my expatiation or in Bakker's writings directly which they can more or less grasp.
If I sounded like I was giving aspersions before, I wouldn't put it this way!

Do you see any components, like heuristic compression, which make some amount of sense to you? Then just talk about what makes some amount of sense to you first, before putting forth documents - that's just part of regular discussion.

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2. Whether any of it seems interesting to consider (given their purviews) from Bakker's or even another's/their own perspective.
3. Whether there's not anything insightful or plausible in Bakker's evidences, given what they know about the brain.

I'll try that out next week, if possible.

Also, I ought to have noted that one of the above is not actually a native speaker of English! You can probably guess which one: they complained that "wow, my vocabulary is not that big"...
Vocabulary is just a compression method as well, to say more with fewer words. It's like a trade off, reader wise - make it less verbose, but it becomes longer, and people get bored before reading (applies to me as well!), verses concise vocab, makes it shorter, but starts falling down in immediate understanding with various sizes of audiences (size in proportion to vocab).

Then again maybe short vocab is Bakker being lazy as well, making him have to write less - it cuts that way too! Mind you, hey, he's gotta write us books, aye! Instead of all this brain wankery! ;) Joking!

Callan S.

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« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2013, 02:22:15 am »
There is not a lot of fluff. Not a lot of confusing dialect and complex sentence structure. The only thing that may be confusing are the terms that are very specific to the research itself, and these things are usually explained in the appendix, accompanied by all the references they used for their work.
So how do you explain this thing alot of us seem to be going through, often called conciousness? In a clinical fashion?

I mean, that our skull is full of synapses has been known for ages. But has that stopped ideas like dualism?

If the idea of conciousness was littered with fluff (never mind if the idea of conciousness itself is fluff), you'd have to include the fluff in order to reference it and begin to dismantle it.

It's a difficult situation. What do scientific works which pertain to dismantling superstitions through scientific testing refer to? Don't they refer to the superstitious fluff at various points?

Wilshire

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« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2013, 02:58:15 am »
Oh I've no idea how to go about it as I explained. Not a clue. I was merely trying to say that the way it is presented is more philosophical than scientific. Nothing is wrong with that, but if you ask a scientist to read it then they will likely give you a disappointing response.
One of the other conditions of possibility.

Callan S.

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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2013, 03:35:12 am »
I think it'd be interesting to raise the topic of 'conciousness' first. I suspect that a scientist might harbour a number of ideas on the matter, but not recall them to mind simply upon contact with a verbally dense document.

If they were to recall the ideas first, they might be able to start hesitantly pinning them to the words of the document, like 'heuristic compression', for example - one might think of how one simplifies our memory of things (or how art teachers have to teach you to draw what you see, not how you think of the object - because the latter isn't the same, as its been subject to compression).

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« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2013, 07:00:01 am »
1. Come now Callan, let's not be obtuse - no living human meticulously qualifies every single statement they make, not even you.
2. They are not functionally obliged, for the same reason as above. It' s fundamentally impossible, as it demands that everywhere one looks one should closely examine the scene for the proverbial 'Virgin Mary on the burnt toast' before looking away. You sort of acknowledged this in your first response with

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I think spare times a thing.

3. I'll factor your advice on "regular discussion" into my plans.

Moving on to particulars...

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That doesn't mean the physical actions I describe aren't happening.

The way you put it, he would demand a comprehensive report or meta-analysis before considering Bakker on his terms. My own feeling is that he just doesn't really understand what Bakker's point/idea is at all/, and that he would have been more amenable to the blog-post had it been couched in clearer language. That's the substance of my disagreement, basically.

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It takes two to tango - writer AND reader.

I am nothing to these two. They owe me nothing, and have no obligations toward me: more strangers than even acquaintances. They simply can not be expected to devote their full cognitive potential toward strange documents for an extended period of time at the behest of some young weirdo whom they have a decade or more on. Something similar goes for any potential future 'casual' encounters any given individual might have with Bakkerism. Bakker and his 'apostles' must be accommodating, otherwise any claims of being serious people making serious arguments toward the unlike-minded for the benefit of society - or whatever reformulation of Bakker's mission statement you'd like - is shown to be a platitude.

We simply can't afford to sit in a circle-jerk murmuring to each other, 'Ahh, those patsies are just too proud to see the genius of Bakker. But we, we are the visionaries; doubtless posterity will accept us for what we are, the heroes and harbingers of a new age'. I'm confident that Bakker himself would agree here, going by what he put front-and-center on his webzone; he claims to hate parochial self-congratulation.

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« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2013, 08:43:06 am »
Reading the essay...

If anyone would be so kind as to skim the first few pages of Bakker's essayand suggest improvements to this 'in-depth' recapitulation of the BBT:

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Neuroscientific research, according to Bakker, suggests that consciousness - which is to say, the neural circuits giving rise to what we call consciousness - is a recursive system that both feeds information to the rest of the brain, and processes information *from* the rest of the brain. However, for the latter function there is a sort of structured informatic bottleneck which effectively limits the information received by the consciousness-circuits, which is to say that consciousness is "blind" to everything that goes on in the brain other than what it actually directly gets or what it can infer by analyzing environmental manifestations of the brain's performance. You can easily demonstrate this by asking, "What is my brain doing right now?"

What Bakker argues is that this latter bit is responsible for our confabulations of such items as intentionality, the first-person perspective, the now, and those other things he mentioned in the abstract.

Basically, the structural limitations of consciousness-circuits result in the phenomenological phenomena mentioned above - that's what he tries to argue in the paper.

Here's a crucial block from the paper:

***

Information horizons: The boundaries that delimit the recursive neural access that underwrites consciousness.

Encapsulation: The global result of limited recursive neural access, or information horizons.

Sufficiency: The way the lack of intra-modal access to information horizons renders a given modality of consciousness ‘sufficient,’ which is to say, at once all-inclusive and unbounded at any given moment.

Asymptotic limits: The way information horizons find phenomenal expression as ‘limits with one side.’

We began by asking how information horizons might find phenomenal expression. What makes these concepts so interesting, I would argue, is the way they provide direct structural correlations between certain peculiarities of consciousness and possible facts of brain. They also show us that how what seem to be positive features of consciousness can arise without neural correlates to accomplish them. Once you accept that consciousness is the result of a special kind of informatically localized neural activity, information horizons and encapsulation directly follow. Sufficiency and asymptotic limits follow in turn, once you ask what information the conscious brain can and cannot access.

Moving on, I hope to show how these four concepts, along the open/closed structure of the RS, can explain some of the most baffling structural features of consciousness. By simply asking the question of what kinds of information the RS likely lacks, we can reconstruct the first-person, and show how the very things we find the most confusing about consciousness—and the most difficult to plug into our understanding of the natural world—are actually confusions.

***

Are you interested in hearing more? Does it seem at all plausible, or does this guy just sound like a total crackpot?

My original summary of the BBT went, for the in-person conversation with the female, went something like:

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It basically says that consciousness is actually a big illusion, and therefore agency, the self, the now, etc. along with it.

The evidence? Well, uhm...

Hopefully, the improved version will grab the attention without coming off as ludicrous.

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« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2013, 04:42:38 am »
Apologies, Bakker User, because I lack the cognition at the moment to respond appropriately to your thread's topic ;).

Though the credentials of your readers may be important. I don't know what the paper(s) were about, and I don't know how much a 'neruolinguistic researcher' would know about it. However, what I can say is that Bakker does not write scientifically, and the people in the scientific community expect a certain kind of writing. I don't know how much Bakker claims to be a scientist, but he certainly isn't doing 'science' on a day to day basis. Philosophy and science can be more or less similar depending on how theoretical ones research is. I would imagine that your readers, since they are doing research (which I take to me actually doing experiments and developing working models of theories) that philosophy is not close to heart. Practical science, outside the realm of purely theoretical stuff, is not much like philosophy, and the practitioners would not appreciate something like the texts written by Bakker.

+1 for two distinct formats.

Something similar goes for any potential future 'casual' encounters any given individual might have with Bakkerism. Bakker and his 'apostles' must be accommodating, otherwise any claims of being serious people making serious arguments toward the unlike-minded for the benefit of society - or whatever reformulation of Bakker's mission statement you'd like - is shown to be a platitude.

+1 but...

I'm not a very accommodating person - I advocate efficient communication but I don't cater to individual comfort. And I'm abrasive, I get "too real" for people "too quick." We get away with communicative felonies here, as far as socially described - it's maxim in certain circles, consistency is comfort - except I've never had the capacity to deny my curiousity and reflection isn't comfortable.

We simply can't afford to sit in a circle-jerk murmuring to each other, 'Ahh, those patsies are just too proud to see the genius of Bakker. But we, we are the visionaries; doubtless posterity will accept us for what we are, the heroes and harbingers of a new age'. I'm confident that Bakker himself would agree here, going by what he put front-and-center on his webzone; he claims to hate parochial self-congratulation.

So - I'll restart Disseminating Bakker and we'll get after it. Let's talk shop because we can't afford the time it takes to mention a lack without compensating with a proactive ;).

I never get this parochial self-congratulation charge? I'm not a guy people want to brush shoulders with - I'm clearly of the plebs. And I have this disdain for irrelevance.

Do we e-stink?

Reading the essay...

If anyone would be so kind as to skim the first few pages of Bakker's essayand suggest improvements to this 'in-depth' recapitulation of the BBT:

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Neuroscientific research, according to Bakker, suggests that consciousness - which is to say, the neural circuits giving rise to what we call consciousness - is a recursive system that both feeds information to the rest of the brain, and processes information *from* the rest of the brain. There are measured threshold of sensation, therefore perception. Except that what we consciously report as experienced is unequal to the brain's activity as described by brain-imaging technologies. However, for the latter function there is a sort of structured informatic bottleneck which effectively limits the information received by the consciousness-circuits, which is to say that consciousness is "blind" to everything that goes on in the brain other than what it actually directly gets or what it can infer by analyzing environmental manifestations of the brain's performance. You can easily demonstrate this by asking, "What is my brain doing right now?" I don't know - I could begin to describe rudiments, such as the perceptive processing of visual sensation (which is 30% of our brain's neural architecture), auditory sensation, language schemas, the representation of motor function for my haphazard typing skills and, arguably, my mouth and vocal cords because embodied cognition suggests that my voice reading my words inside my head is utilizing the same brain structures to simulate my voice as it would to speak it. This simply couldn't even hint at my total brain activity or that experience - think of the gradient between average Blind Brains and those Blind Brains that push the cognitive boundaries towards the actual extremes of the BBH - I don't know what it's like to control my heart beat or my body temperature but some people are able to have those experiences by way of various practices.

What Bakker argues is that this latter bit is responsible for our confabulations of such items as intentionality, the first-person perspective, the now, and those other things he mentioned in the abstract.

Basically, the structural limitations of consciousness-circuits result in the phenomenological phenomena mentioned above - that's what he tries to argue in the paper.

Here's a crucial block from the paper:

***

Information horizons: The boundaries that delimit the recursive neural access that underwrites consciousness. The various cognitive thresholds of sensation, thus perception, described above - that is, our brains, at every given moment, experience more than our sufficient experience of our feeling of "complete" cognition. We simply don't experience all the sight, sound, touch, smell, or taste that our brains experience - our sensual paraphernalia hasn't yet changed but we won't, without effort, experience the experience of experts, who've practiced to develop their perception of sensation: the palate's of great chefs, the visual reactions of race-car drivers or fighter pilots, the tactile discrimination of the blind or violinists, the auditory experience of musicians and composers, or the olfaction of perfumists or caffeine connoisseurs. Much less, the abstract experiences of linguists, artists, and mathematicians. Past the horizon of Blind Brain, Greater Brain still experiences more than any "us."

Encapsulation: The global result of limited recursive neural access, or information horizons. We experience those cognitive thresholds, simultaneously, at all times, despite the misleading impressions and abstraction of describing them separately. I imagine concentric circle, Blind Brain, the cognitive thresholds dictating encapsulation, Greater Brain.

Sufficiency: The way the lack of intra-modal access to information horizons renders a given modality of consciousness ‘sufficient,’ which is to say, at once all-inclusive and unbounded at any given moment. We don't experience an experience, or cognition of the lack beyond our cognitive thresholds - in the same way that we don't experience that special communication expertise develops a based on novel, new, shared experiences, exceeding those outside of their community.

Asymptotic limits: The way information horizons find phenomenal expression as ‘limits with one side.’ Why don't we experience, say, the circle of vision? I am aware of the way my perception of vision is manifest illusion. Colour discrimination fails based on the distribution of rods and cones, depth, detail - we don't see what we think we see. Our experiences, mostly activate original architecture, those determined by the facilitated average schemas - the average experience of average experience. So the more that you perceive a specific pot as the same pot, or a person as communicating in a certain way, then the less we actually perceive those things - objects or otherwise - in the moment; your brain simply utilizes the most impressionistic, on average, experiences to experience. You are a brain simulating much of it's experience as a brain in an environment, rather than constantly burning the energy to actually experience being a brain in an environment. But again we don't experience that lack.

We began by asking how information horizons might find phenomenal expression. What makes these concepts so interesting, I would argue, is the way they provide direct structural correlations between certain peculiarities of consciousness and possible facts of brain. They also show us that how what seem to be positive features of consciousness can arise without neural correlates to accomplish them. Once you accept that consciousness is the result of a special kind of informatically localized neural activity, information horizons and encapsulation directly follow. Sufficiency and asymptotic limits follow in turn, once you ask what information the conscious brain can and cannot access. Our brains exhibit common characteristics and generalized localization of function. My experience of threshold is determined by what I don't experience past the limits of threshold, in this case, due to the actual connective access certain brain structures have with one another.

Moving on, I hope to show how these four concepts, along the open/closed structure of the RS, can explain some of the most baffling structural features of consciousness. By simply asking the question of what kinds of information the RS likely lacks, we can reconstruct the first-person, and show how the very things we find the most confusing about consciousness—and the most difficult to plug into our understanding of the natural world—are actually confusions. The Recursive System - our brain - can only use the neural architecture it has evolved to recognize its environment to now recognize itself. It's self-referential, in which we are the referent - and this is actually what enchephalization describes, that is, the fact that we pass through all the developmental stages of our brain's evolution, the classic triune brain: reptile, mammalian, and neocortex (human). For our brain to actually experience, total brain experience of its existing neural architecture, it would have to raise the bar with another complexity of neural structure, post-neocortex?

***

Are you interested in hearing more? Does it seem at all plausible, or does this guy just sound like a total crackpot?

My original summary of the BBT went, for the in-person conversation with the female, went something like:

Quote
It basically says that consciousness is actually a big illusion, and therefore agency, the self, the now, etc. along with it.

The evidence? Well, uhm...

Hopefully, the improved version will grab the attention without coming off as ludicrous.

Just personal impressions, of course. Not sure if I've offered anything here.

Bakker User

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« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2013, 05:53:15 am »

+1 but...

I'm not a very accommodating person - I advocate efficient communication but I don't cater to individual comfort. And I'm abrasive, I get "too real" for people "too quick." We get away with communicative felonies here, as far as socially described - it's maxim in certain circles, consistency is comfort - except I've never had the capacity to deny my curiousity and reflection isn't comfortable.

I don't see it. From what I've read, I would describe you as "a nice guy", and "sensitive to the needs and needs and feelings of others".

This board generally is more or less par-for-the-course when it comes to civil Internet communities.

Quote
So - I'll restart Disseminating Bakker and we'll get after it. Let's talk shop because we can't afford the time it takes to mention a lack without compensating with a proactive ;).

I never get this parochial self-congratulation charge? I'm not a guy people want to brush shoulders with - I'm clearly of the plebs. And I have this disdain for irrelevance.

Do we e-stink?

That is, we can't afford - unless we're just doing all this for kicks in our spare time, or focusing on Bakker's fiction as such - to ignore the rest of the world because 'we just get it and they don't'. That's all.

Reading the essay...

If anyone would be so kind as to skim the first few pages of Bakker's essayand suggest improvements to this 'in-depth' recapitulation of the BBT:

Quote
Quote
Neuroscientific research, according to Bakker, suggests that consciousness - which is to say, the neural circuits giving rise to what we call consciousness - is a recursive system that both feeds information to the rest of the brain, and processes information *from* the rest of the brain. There are measured threshold of sensation, therefore perception. Except that what we consciously report as experienced is unequal to the brain's activity as described by brain-imaging technologies. However, for the latter function there is a sort of structured informatic bottleneck which effectively limits the information received by the consciousness-circuits, which is to say that consciousness is "blind" to everything that goes on in the brain other than what it actually directly gets or what it can infer by analyzing environmental manifestations of the brain's performance. You can easily demonstrate this by asking, "What is my brain doing right now?" I don't know - I could begin to describe rudiments, such as the perceptive processing of visual sensation (which is 30% of our brain's neural architecture), auditory sensation, language schemas, the representation of motor function for my haphazard typing skills and, arguably, my mouth and vocal cords because embodied cognition suggests that my voice reading my words inside my head is utilizing the same brain structures to simulate my voice as it would to speak it. This simply couldn't even hint at my total brain activity or that experience - think of the gradient between average Blind Brains and those Blind Brains that push the cognitive boundaries towards the actual extremes of the BBH - I don't know what it's like to control my heart beat or my body temperature but some people are able to have those experiences by way of various practices.

What Bakker argues is that this latter bit is responsible for our confabulations of such items as intentionality, the first-person perspective, the now, and those other things he mentioned in the abstract.

Basically, the structural limitations of consciousness-circuits result in the phenomenological phenomena mentioned above - that's what he tries to argue in the paper.

Here's a crucial block from the paper:

***

Information horizons: The boundaries that delimit the recursive neural access that underwrites consciousness. The various cognitive thresholds of sensation, thus perception, described above - that is, our brains, at every given moment, experience more than our sufficient experience of our feeling of "complete" cognition. We simply don't experience all the sight, sound, touch, smell, or taste that our brains experience - our sensual paraphernalia hasn't yet changed but we won't, without effort, experience the experience of experts, who've practiced to develop their perception of sensation: the palate's of great chefs, the visual reactions of race-car drivers or fighter pilots, the tactile discrimination of the blind or violinists, the auditory experience of musicians and composers, or the olfaction of perfumists or caffeine connoisseurs. Much less, the abstract experiences of linguists, artists, and mathematicians. Past the horizon of Blind Brain, Greater Brain still experiences more than any "us."

Encapsulation: The global result of limited recursive neural access, or information horizons. We experience those cognitive thresholds, simultaneously, at all times, despite the misleading impressions and abstraction of describing them separately. I imagine concentric circle, Blind Brain, the cognitive thresholds dictating encapsulation, Greater Brain.

Sufficiency: The way the lack of intra-modal access to information horizons renders a given modality of consciousness ‘sufficient,’ which is to say, at once all-inclusive and unbounded at any given moment. We don't experience an experience, or cognition of the lack beyond our cognitive thresholds - in the same way that we don't experience that special communication expertise develops a based on novel, new, shared experiences, exceeding those outside of their community.

Asymptotic limits: The way information horizons find phenomenal expression as ‘limits with one side.’ Why don't we experience, say, the circle of vision? I am aware of the way my perception of vision is manifest illusion. Colour discrimination fails based on the distribution of rods and cones, depth, detail - we don't see what we think we see. Our experiences, mostly activate original architecture, those determined by the facilitated average schemas - the average experience of average experience. So the more that you perceive a specific pot as the same pot, or a person as communicating in a certain way, then the less we actually perceive those things - objects or otherwise - in the moment; your brain simply utilizes the most impressionistic, on average, experiences to experience. You are a brain simulating much of it's experience as a brain in an environment, rather than constantly burning the energy to actually experience being a brain in an environment. But again we don't experience that lack.

We began by asking how information horizons might find phenomenal expression. What makes these concepts so interesting, I would argue, is the way they provide direct structural correlations between certain peculiarities of consciousness and possible facts of brain. They also show us that how what seem to be positive features of consciousness can arise without neural correlates to accomplish them. Once you accept that consciousness is the result of a special kind of informatically localized neural activity, information horizons and encapsulation directly follow. Sufficiency and asymptotic limits follow in turn, once you ask what information the conscious brain can and cannot access. Our brains exhibit common characteristics and generalized localization of function. My experience of threshold is determined by what I don't experience past the limits of threshold, in this case, due to the actual connective access certain brain structures have with one another.

Moving on, I hope to show how these four concepts, along the open/closed structure of the RS, can explain some of the most baffling structural features of consciousness. By simply asking the question of what kinds of information the RS likely lacks, we can reconstruct the first-person, and show how the very things we find the most confusing about consciousness—and the most difficult to plug into our understanding of the natural world—are actually confusions. The Recursive System - our brain - can only use the neural architecture it has evolved to recognize its environment to now recognize itself. It's self-referential, in which we are the referent - and this is actually what enchephalization describes, that is, the fact that we pass through all the developmental stages of our brain's evolution, the classic triune brain: reptile, mammalian, and neocortex (human). For our brain to actually experience, total brain experience of its existing neural architecture, it would have to raise the bar with another complexity of neural structure, post-neocortex?

***

Are you interested in hearing more? Does it seem at all plausible, or does this guy just sound like a total crackpot?

My original summary of the BBT went, for the in-person conversation with the female, went something like:

Quote
It basically says that consciousness is actually a big illusion, and therefore agency, the self, the now, etc. along with it.

The evidence? Well, uhm...

Hopefully, the improved version will grab the attention without coming off as ludicrous.

Just personal impressions, of course. Not sure if I've offered anything here.

Hmm...

Remember that this is basically a script for me to recite in-person, and I'd rather not adulterate the Bakker quote. In fact, it's not clear to me whether the bolded lines are just comments or you would actually have me insert them into the...? At any rate, I don't want to come off as lecturing them on the brain rather than merely raising certain salient facts to the attention; after all, I'm a layman and they're the scientists! I'd probably get the rhetorical shit beaten out of me if I tried something like that...

But thanks for the notes. Assimilating and reorganizing what you added, here's the new version:

Quote
Neuroscientific research, according to Bakker, suggests that consciousness - which is to say, the neural circuits giving rise to what we call consciousness - is a recursive system that both feeds information to the rest of the brain, and processes information *from* the rest of the brain. However, for the latter function there is a sort of structured informatic bottleneck which effectively limits the information received by the consciousness-circuits, which is to say that consciousness is "blind" to everything that goes on in the brain other than what it actually directly gets or what it can infer by analyzing environmental manifestations of the brain's performance. To elaborate, Bakker is claiming that research shows that this recursive system of consciousness-generating circuits has evolved to be self-recognizing and self-referential in a recursive manner, but only to a very limited extent because otherwise you'd need a whole new second brain to keep track of everything that's going on in the first one - or something like that. Hence: informatic asymmetry. You can easily demonstrate this by asking, "What is my brain doing right now?" Furthermore, aren't there measured thresholds of sensation, therefore perception, yet what we consciously report as experienced is unequal to the brain's activity as described by brain-imaging technologies. Right? This informatic asymmetry is indisputable, right?

What Bakker argues is that this latter bit is responsible for our confabulations of such items as intentionality, the first-person perspective, the now, and those other things he conveniently lists in the abstract of the essay in question.

Basically, the structural limitations of consciousness-circuits result in the phenomenological phenomena mentioned above - that's what he tries to argue in the paper.

So just hear it out - here's a crucial block from the paper:

***

Information horizons: The boundaries that delimit the recursive neural access that underwrites consciousness. [So, an aside: this basically refers to cognitive thresholds or informatic limits for various sensory/perceptual modalities. Think about how your visual field just sort of seems to run out into oblivion.]

Encapsulation: The global result of limited recursive neural access, or information horizons. [Another aside: so this is related to the idea of conscious unity, and how we perceive all the different modalities simultaneously, even as it seems we can distinguish between them.]

Sufficiency: The way the lack of intra-modal access to information horizons renders a given modality of consciousness ‘sufficient,’ which is to say, at once all-inclusive and unbounded at any given moment. [To elaborate, this means that we basically aren't bothered by the fact that there is a lack of information past the information horizons; concretely, like how you don't really perceive that there's a boundary to the visual field in the sense of specifically perceiving the lack beyond it; the visual information simply runs out, and the lack of information isn't specially represented as anything, simply being a lack of information. This makes more sense if you read the essay.]

Asymptotic limits: The way information horizons find phenomenal expression as ‘limits with one side.’ [You'll recognize the link to the previous definition, I think.]

We began by asking how information horizons might find phenomenal expression. What makes these concepts so interesting, I would argue, is the way they provide direct structural correlations between certain peculiarities of consciousness and possible facts of brain. They also show us that how what seem to be positive features of consciousness can arise without neural correlates to accomplish them. Once you accept that consciousness is the result of a special kind of informatically localized neural activity, information horizons and encapsulation directly follow. Sufficiency and asymptotic limits follow in turn, once you ask what information the conscious brain can and cannot access.

Moving on, I hope to show how these four concepts, along the open/closed structure of the RS, can explain some of the most baffling structural features of consciousness. By simply asking the question of what kinds of information the RS likely lacks, we can reconstruct the first-person, and show how the very things we find the most confusing about consciousness—and the most difficult to plug into our understanding of the natural world—are actually confusions.

***

Are you interested in hearing more? Does it seem at all plausible, or does this guy just sound like a total crackpot? He does explain how the scientific evidence supports his interpretations, and how his cognitive model can be used to successfully account for all these features of consciousness, in the essay itself. Perhaps you'd like to read it yourself? I could link it to you. As a layman,  (and given that his language is still, um, a little dense) I'm sure that I haven't been able to do justice to the concept.