piątek, 17 sierpnia 2012

Reading Thomas Metzinger -- the self


What is the role of the self? Based on chapter 5, (mostly)
subchapters 6.1--6.3, and section 6.4.2 of "Being No One". Note that I
only cover stuff where I want to add (or question) something, many
interesting things get omitted.

Phenomenal Self Model


It seems that the Phenomenal Model of the Intentionality Relation is a
structure and process for managing attention. When an object is
integrated into PMIR, the directing of attention towards that object
is available phenomenally (i.e. available for action control, concept
formation and "higher order" attention). PMIR will be basis of next post.

Integrating the Phenomenal Self Model into the world model provides
for relations between the PSM concept and the concepts of "outside"
objects. Such relations are basis of goal-directed behavior (when a
simulated relation is different than an actual relation).

The PSM integrates also the representation of any process that
preattentively integrates a set of features as an object. Only then
the object becomes attentionally available, so this is even more basic
than PMIR, it enables all "higher order" relations. I'm not sure
whether Metzinger thinks the object is available for concept formation
prior to this integration into PSM, it is unlikely given the lack of
attention. But for sure, what is here integrated is the distinct
concept of perceiving the object. Now it becomes possible to have the
goal of "taking a better look" at an object. This is a considerable
limitation over how I imagined attentional availability, but since a
global availability means integration into world model, it shouldn't
be much harder to also integrate it subjectively, i.e. into the
PSM. The very object formation already happens in the world-model and
the PSM, and in this process the object-encoding processes become
mental representations, i.e. potentially globally available.

PSM is distinguished in the representational space by high
invariability. Attention (for PSM and generally) might be driven to
"places" where the output of the model and the input of the senses
differs the most. But the background self-awareness is always present.

All properties of the system are represented in one integrated data
format, i.e. the PSM is "holistic".

"The nervous system, and this will be true for the particular case
of self-representation as well, is not so much a top-down controller,
but more a system whose task consists in generating adequate patterns
within [the body - nervous system - environment] overall
dynamics. [...] [I]f an internal self-model is to be a successful
instrument in predicting the future behavioral dynamics of an
individual system, it must in some way mirror or reflect important
functional characteristics of precisely that part of its internal
dynamics, which in the end will cause the overt actions in question."

"A fully grounded self-model would simply disappear. In principle,
phenomenal selfhood emerges as long as there is a conflict or
incoherence between bottom-up and top-down processes, between
expectancy and actual perception." The discrepancy draws attention to
the respective emulators in general, making them conscious,
i.e. globally available for flexible reaction. "A certain level of
autonomous, residual self-modeling is preserved."  Note that dynamics
(including goal-directedness) is part of the self-model.

Revisiting Transparency


Metzinger makes a general comment that I might have missed in my
discussion of transparency (don't remember). Content is phenomenally
opaque when it is presented as representational, i.e. as correlated
with a different presented content (for example, an imaginated
rehearsing self is correlated with the actual self integrated into the
"Now"). But later in the section he goes on with the old confusion :-(
First, by having a "fully opaque" self experience being an experience
of a ghost or spirit (disembodied entity). Later, he seems to say that
opaqueness is the "presentation" of misrepresentation in
presentational content. But then he writes "There is always
self-presentational content, there are always emotions and gut
feelings, for instance, and presentational content is always fully
transparent." Yet this is specifically about the self, so that's
OK. It looks like "presented as misrepresentational" is achieved by
having the relation, but missing the target process with which the
opaque content is supposed to correlate.

This transparency confusion makes it difficult to decipher notions
such as "nemocentric reality model (centered on a globally available,
but fully opaque self-model embedded in the current virtual window of
presence)", because here it certainly is not about presenting
misrepresentation (in neither the simulation nor the
pseudo-hallucination form). It is also not (or is only to a degree)
about representing an independently presented content (neither in the
simulation sense nor in the "constitutionally earlier stages of
processing" sense). Although I have an intuition what "fully opaque"
is supposed to mean here, where is the meat? "For any phenomenal
representation, its degree of phenomenal opacity is given by the
degree of attentional availability of earlier processing stages."
Yeah, you've already told that... OK, I uderstand "fully opaque"
as that the dependency of every processing stage on an earlier stage
(or generally -- bidirectionally, on other stages) is represented.

"My hypothesis is that the phenomenon of transparent self-modeling
developed as an evolutionary viable strategy because it constituted a
reliable way of making system-related information available without
entangling the system in endless internal loops of higher-order
self-modeling." No, the solution was already flourishing before the
problem developed :-)

Transparency finale: "A transparent representation is characterized by
the fact that the only properties accessible to introspective
attention are their content properties. It does not allow for the
representation of a vehicle-content distinction using on-board
resources. [...] If I engage in typical cognitive activities like
reasoning, and if I then direct my introspective attention to this
process as it unfolds, I experience myself as operating with internal
representations that I am deliberately constructing myself. They do
not imply the existence of their simulanda, and they might be
coreferential with other mental representations of myself without me
knowing this very fact. [...] [T]he phenomenology of transparent
experience is the phenomenology of not only knowing but of also
knowing that you know while you know; opaque experience is the
experience of knowing while also (nonconceptually, attentionally)
knowing that you may be wrong."

Role of Objects


"Global availability of information always means availability for
transient, dynamical integration with the currently active
self-model." I don't know what's the added value of PMIR over just
integration into "the window of presence and global model of the
world", we'll see...

Does "Phenomenal self-presentation is anchored in mental
self-presentation" mean that what is experienced is always part of
what could be experienced? I.e. that there's always more to direct
attention to? It probably speaks about the world-model and self-model
structure.

"It is, of course, an interesting question, whether the abstract,
normally unconscious processing stages preceding volitional and
phenomenally self-modeled movement selection can already count as
egocentric representations, or whether this is precisely the step at
which those computations are integrated into a self-representation,
which also makes them conscious. In any case it now seems plausible to
assume that what gets integrated into the PSM of the organism as a now
deliberating subject is a determinate, single, and concrete
representation of a specific behavior."

The PMIR might be the key to intersubjectivity: its representation
can be its object.

Goal representations (via goal-encoded objects) are in nonegocentric
frames of reference, they can be integrated into the PSM for actual
behavior and for self-simulation, they can be integrated into
"allocentric frames", simulations of others integrated into PSM as
simulations, or just unconsciously activated by mirror neurons. And
mirror neurons first emulate low-level, non-goal movements. Low-level
and high-level resonance mechanisms do not coincide. Goal-encoded
objects are object representations with selection mechanisms for a
repertoire of actions like various grasping behaviors.

Linguistic concepts are much more than simple concepts (i.e. processes
that represent other processes non-homomorphically but by activation
links, and so gain recombinability), they are goal-encoded objects,
having qualia as all objects, here the words or other symbols.