The remarkable convergence of philosophy and linguistics on what makes us human
There are two books which you *have to* read (if already haven't done so):
1. *Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain* by Antonio R. Damasio. Besides being an incredibly informative book about human neuroscience, it also features Damasio's *somatic marker hypothesis*, which is in a nutshell: when reacting to a situation, our brains 'project' past images of the arising/developing situation 'into' our bodies (soma) & our reactions are guided by the sense data coming 'upward' from our bodies into our brains -- essentially we poll our bodies: "how do I *feel* about this (developing) turn of events?"
2. *Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology* by Valentino Braitenberg. A most insightful thought experiment about brains based on the neurological/cybernetic research conducted by (the late) Braitenberg. I can assure you that you'll be royally entertained: it is pure mind candy. For a teaser, here are the chapter headings:
1. Getting around
2. Fear and Aggression
4. Values and Special Tastes
6. Selection, the Impersonal Engineer
8. Space, Things, and Movements
10. Getting Ideas
11. Rules and Regularities
12. Trains of Thought
14. Egotism and Optimism
(Both books can be found on the net in PDF forms; I'm not going to link to them for copyright reasons, but with reasonable effort, you can start reading them after 10 minutes of searching.)
I have to say I disagree with a lot of what is presented.
In one of your more recent articles, you talk about consciousness beginning around the end of the last ice age or about 15,000 years ago, and claimed that the spread of this can be seen via the spread of the "na" first person pronoun, which is perfectly linguistically situated to be preserved.
Here, however, you are claiming that recursion is the basis of self-awareness, which seems completely analogous to what was mentioned before. You say that recursion was needed for a language with grammar (all languages have grammar), but this means proto-sapiens, the language that evolved before modern humans, would have required recursion, moving consciousness back to at minimum 50K years ago.
Please clarify the differences you're making between the terms, or clear it up for me some.
Additionally, why would you need to be able to introspect in order to do the Pythagorean theorem or learn how to count? None of these seem to require introspection of any sort, only access to outside information.
And finally, I think that your view that the beginnings of recursion requiring a few "broken eggs" seems incorrect. Schizophrenia seems to be mainly related to overactive agent detection (seeing agents, such as gods or motivations or patterns, where none exist) which doesn't seem to have a strong bearing on introspection. The "mirror test", the ability to recognize oneself in the mirror, seems a more reasonable step towards introspection, that is, identifying oneself as separate from other members of the group.
And yes, we teach children to introspect all the time, to stop and think about their actions.
Great stuff. Will read again in a few days' time to build on my understanding of it. Will then read again in a few more days to build on my understanding of it. Will then...
Curious where the rest of this series will go.
In the meantime, I thought you might like this (not mine, but it feels tangentially related): https://praxtime.com/2023/04/08/intelligence-is-prediction/