Scientific materialism – Final part

1.6.  Levels and evolution 

At least the following comprehensive kinds or levels of entity may be distinguished:1.      Phisical level = the set of all phisical things2.      Chemical level = the set of all chemical systems (wherein chemical reactions occur)3.      Biological level = the set of all cell or multicellular organisms4.      Social level = the set of all social systems5.      Technical level = the set of all artifacts(28 / 9) 

the components of every system belonging to a level above the physical one belong to lower levels… Second, as we climb up the levels pyramid we gain some (emergent) properties but lose others (29) 

Postulate 4. The systems on every level have emerged in the course of some process of assembly of lower level entities (29) 

Theorem 2. Every assembly process is accompanied by the emergence of at least one property (29) 

Postulate 5. Some processes are evolutionary <unique processes along which absolutely new things emerge> (30) 

 

1.7.  Conclusions 

This ontology should be characterized by the joint possession of the following attributes:

  1. exact: every concept worth using is exact or exactifiable;
  2. systematic: every hypothesis or definition belongs to a hypothetico-deductive system
  3. scientific: every hypothesis worth adopting is consistent with contemporary science…
  4. materialist: every entity is material (concrete), and every ideal object is ultimately a process in some brain or a class of brain processes;
  5. dynamicist: every entity is changeable…
  6. systemist: every entity is a system or a component of some system;
  7. emergentist: every system possesses properties absent from its components;
  8. evolutionist: every emergence is a stage in some evolutionary process

(30) 

 

 

Chapter 5 – A materialist theory of the mind 

5.1.  Ten views on the mind-body problem 

There are two main sets of solutions to the problem of the nature of the mind: psychoneural monism and psychoneural dualism… However there are considerable differences among the components of each of the two sets… Thus psychoneural monism is composed of the following altenative doctrines: panpsychism (“everything is mental”), neutral monism (“the physical and the mental are so many aspects or manifestations of a single entity”), eliminative materialism (“nothing is mental”), reductive materialism (“the mind is phisical”), and emergentist materialism (“the mind is a set of emergent brain functions or activities”). Likewise the dualist camp is divided into five sects: autonomism (“body and mind are mutually independent”), paralelism (“body and mind are parallel or synchronous to one an other”), epiphenomenalism (“the body affects or causes the mind”), animism (“the mind affects, causes, animates or controls the body”), and interactionism (“body and mind interact”)(67) 

<emergentist materialism>. This is a view that mental states and processes, though brain activities, are not just physical or chemical or even cellular, but specific activities of complex neuron assemblies. These systems, evolved by some higher vertebrates, are fixed (Hebb) or itinerant (Craik, Bindra) (68) 

 

5.2.  Basic concepts and hypothesis 

Definition 1. A systems is a nervous system iff it is an information biosystem such that:1.      it is composed of (living) cells2.      it is or has been a proper part of a multicellular animal3.      its structure includes (a) the regulation or control of some of the biofuncions of the animal, and (b) the detection of internal and enviornmental events as well as the transmission of signals triggered by such events(69) 

Definition 2. A biosystem is a neural (or neuronal) system iff it is a subsystem of a nervous system (69) 

Definition 3. a biosystem is a neuron iff it is a cellular component of a neural system (69) 

Definition 5. A connectivity <between neurons> is constant iff it does not change once established… Otherwise it is variable (70) 

Definition 6. A neuronal system is plastic (or uncommitted, or modifiable, or self-organizable) iff its connectivity is variable throughout the animal’s life. Otherwise (i.e. if it is constant from birth or from a certain stage in the development of the animal), the system is committed (or wired-in, or prewired, or preprogrammed) (70) 

Definition 7. Any plastic neural system is called a psychon (70) 

Postulate 2. The neural systems that regulate (control) the internal milieu, as well as the biofuntions of the newborn animal, are commited (wired-in) (70) 

Postulate 3. The plastic (uncommitted) neuronal system of an animal (i.e. its psychones) are coupled to form a supersystem, namely the plastic neural supersystem (P) of the animal (70) 

Postulate 4. Every animal endowed with psychones (plastic neural systems) is capable of acquiring new biofunctions in the course of life (70) 

Definition 8. Every neural funciotn involving a psychon (or plastic neural system) with a regular connectivity (i.e. one that is constant or else varies regularly) is said to be learned (71) 

The hypothesis that the CNS, abd every neuronal subsystem of ti, is constantly active even in the absence of external stimuli (72) 

 

5.3. Mental states and processes 

not all brain activity is mental: we assume that the mental is the specific function of certain plastic neuronal systems (all of which discharge also household functions such as protein synthesis) (73) 

Definition 12. Let b an animal endowed with a plastic neural system P. Then1.      b undergoes a mental process (or performs a amental function) during the time interval r iff P has a subsystem v such that v is engaged in a specif process during r;2.      every state (or stage) in a mental process of b is a mental state of b. (73) 

Corollary 1. All and only animals endowed with plastic neural systems are capable of being in mental states (or undergoing mental processes) (73 /4) 

Definition 13. Let P be the plastic (uncommitted) supersystem of an animal b of species K. Then

  1. the mind of b during the period r is the union of all mental processes (functions) that components of P engage in during r
  2. the K-mind, or mind of species K, during period r, is the union of the minds of its members during r (74)

Theorem 1. The mental functions of (processes in) the plastic neural supersystem of an animal are coupled to one another, i.e. they form a functional system. (The unity of the mind principle) (74) 

Theorem 2. Mental events can cause nonmental events in the same body and conversely.Proof: Mental events are neural events, and the causal relation is defined for pairs of events inconcrete things. (75) 

 

5.4. Sensation and perception 

Definition 14. A detector is a neurosensor (or neuroreceptor) iff it is a neural system or is directly coupled to a neural system (75) 

Definition 15. A sensory system of an animal is a subsystem of the nervous system of it, composed of neurosensors and of neural systems coupled with these (75) 

Definition 16. A sensation (or sensory process) is a specific state of activity (or function or process) of a sensory system (75) 

Definition 17.(i)                  A percept (or perceptual process) is a specific function (activity, process) of a sensory system and of the plastic neural system(s) directly coupled to it;(ii)                A perceptual system is a neural system that can undergo perceptual processes(75) 

We assume that ther perceptin of an external object is the distortion it causes on the ongoing activity of a perceptual system (75) 

We perceive events, i.e. changes of state. And not just any events but those originating in some neurosensor or acting on the latter and, in any case, belonging to our own event space (or the set of changes occuring in us). And ourperceptions are in turn events in the plastic part of our own sensory cortex. Normally these are not fully autonomous events but events that map or represent events occurring in other parts of the body or in our environment. To be sure, this mapping is anything but simple and faithful, yet it is a mapping in the mathematical sense, i.e. a function (76) 

Definition 18. … perceives external events… if, and only if, these cause bodily events that are in turn projected <map> on to the sensory cortex (77) 

 

 

5.8. Thinking 

We assume that forming a concept of the “concrete” kind- i.e. a class of real things or events- consists in responding uniformly to any and only members of the given class: 

Postulate 15. Let C be a set of (simultaneous or successive) things or events. There are animals equipped with psychons whose activity is caused or triggered, directly or indirectly, by any member of C, and is independent of what particular member activates them (83) 

Definition 31. Let C be a class of things or events, and b an animal satisfying Postulate 15, i.e. possessing a psychon that can be activated uniformely by any and only a member of C. Then b attains a concept 0b (C) of C (or conceives C, or thinks up C) iff the activity (process, function) stimulated by a C in that psychon of b equals 0b (C) (83) 

We now conjeture that forming a proposition is the chaining of the psychons (possibly cortical columns) thinking up the concepts occurring in the proposition (83) 

Postulate 16. Thinking up a proposition is (identical with) the sequential activation of the psychons whose activities are the concepts occurring in the proposition in the given order (83) 

Postulate 17. A sequence of thoughts about propositions is (identical with) the sequential activation of the psychons whose activities are the propositions in the sequence (83)

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