On Counting (Example strikes me as "off"...)


Okay, this is getting into pure epistomology more than design epistomology, but it's something that's disturbing me as I read. Basically, Dicker's summary of Kant is trying to build up the central argument I described a few posts ago, namely that based on our perceptions of reality we can understand how it is that we must perceive the universe. (That's a poor formulation of the argument, read the book for a more extensive exploration). Anyway, part of the argument as presented includes this example:

Imagine you are counting 12 stones. You count the first, then as you count the second, you recall the first, compare it with the second and assign a relation between them of "first and second" that correllates them. (This is where it gets weird) you then recall the first and second and compare versus the third. Then you recall the first, second and third and compare against the fourth. Until you get to the 12th stone.

Now consider how you actually count stones. You don't keep track of each stone that's passing, comparing all to the current. You might keep track of two or three stones, but what you're actually tracking is a much simpler counting order which binds a few numbers together (successive numbers, basically). You don't have to track every relationship between each item, you just track whether there's been any interruption in the expected pattern (or more reasonably, the neurons that match patterns of broken sequences remain un-stimulated).

Our minds match patterns, hundreds of overlapping, partial, patterns that operate across space and time. We know that certain neurons have stimulus timing patterns that control whether they fire (think rhythm). We know that we only track 7 or 8 items well (simultaneously). When we think, we are processing and reprocessing the patterns, shifting up potentials in certain neurons, releasing flows in others, expiring excitement in others. The effect of all of that is an intricate shifting pattern of multi-level pattern-matching.

Getting back to the topic at hand. I mentioned the difficulties I've been having with the idea that "object orientation" is a necessary requirement for consciousness. That is, that the one thing that can bind together perceptions is an object-based model where the perceptions are bound via structured rules to the object imagined. Dicker introduces Wolff's treatment of the Deduction as dropping the object orientation in favour of simply perceptions being related in some "rule governed" way (he then promptly rejects this approach by Wolff), something which, if you take into account the idea that the "rules" could be "soft", produces something that sounds a lot like consciousness being reliant on the recognition of patterns in perceptions.

Anyway, I guess that horse is well and truly dead. I think I shall off to bed.

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