Tuesday, August 29, 2006

relationship between a thing and the things that are about that thing

Two posts ago I talked about how the subjective experience of chlorine is closely linked to the actual thing of chlorine itself.

That principle may hold for the representations that people hold of each other, too. This relates to the idea that "souls" and "reincarnation" could be partially explained by the way our minds are distributedly represented across many other systems, especially the people who know us.

the windowlicker characters are transdimensional aliens

You simple-ass nigga! You better roll on!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

How is a perception of a thing connected to what that thing is?

There's a question: is a perception just a superficial image in our mental processes, or is it directly linked to the essence or reality of the perceived thing?

I just thought of an example of this. Chlorine has a distinctive smell, like in bleach or swimming pools. Why does it smell that way? Because it binds to olfactory receptors that connect to certain parts of the brain. If you took a normal brain and rewired the olfactory receptors for chlorine to the parts of the brain that normally smell ginger, then chlorine would smell like ginger.

This makes it seem like there's nothing meaningful about the subjective experience we have when we smell chlorine. You could just rewire a few neurons and the subjective experience would be different -- so how could we claim that the subjective experience is deeply linked to the reality of chlorine?

Here's my new idea: it's not just "chance" that made those neurons normally wire to the particular part of the brain that creates the chlorine-smell experience. Chlorine olfactory receptors have a particular structure that allows them to bind to chlorine. Their structure also determines how they interact with other molecules, like axon guidance molecules and other developmental signals.

That's how the meaning gets in there. The reality of chlorine is the way it interacts with things (on any level). The things that interact with it are configured in a way that reflects that reality.