John's brain - SnitgrrRl

Doyle Saylor djsaylor at
Sun Dec 6 20:18:50 PST 1998

Hello everyone,

SnitgirrRl writes 1) Jim (Heartfield) would like to be able to claim that sightedness is preferable to blindness, to not be called on the carpet for it, and to claim that this is an objective (intersubjective perhaps?) truth which is to say that most people would agree given this historical moment.

Doyle We could say that your point broadly is about democracy, but it wouldn¹t explicitly show what I am talking about with neural networks. I can form different views from Jim. We can have a political system that recognizes differences and allows them. There is a version of this you typed:


The more adequate Marxist understanding of historical materialism--and sheesh didn't I type this already on LBO in response to Doyle?--allows for a *transformational* model of the relationship between individual and society. It is still accurate to say that society wouldn't exist w/o human activities and practices that uphold society. It is also quite proper to acknowledge that people couldn't do what they do and say what they say w/o society--that is, without conception of what they are saying and doing that is handed down to them through culture, history, etc. In other words, we are born into a world in which there is language, money, credit cards and all the practices associated w/ them.

People don't *create* society. They are born into it and so what they do is re/produce society: they statically produce (sustain) society and they may, at times, dynamically reproduce (or transform) society. On this model, there is a concept of change or history, if you will

Doyle I strongly "feel" (in a moral sense you caught me using in regard to Jim Heartfield) SnitgrrRl that morality and the systems of ethics and morality that we have in our society are a problem because they don¹t reflect an understanding of how the mind works. I got this sort of thinking originally from Marxist views a long time ago concerning morality, because one doesn¹t have to understand how the mind works to know that morality, and ethics fail in practice to achieve what we expect of them. So long as the totality of the system of capitalism is not addressed. You caught me using moral methods to analyze Jim Heartfield¹s opinion, and I am no different than any body else in being a part of this society. When you raised my assuming a moral stance toward Jim I realized my own contradiction. I feel like when my own "moral" thinking arises in me it represents a failure on my part to use what I understand in other more appropriate ways. I was simply one person trying to speak to another person in conventional terms. But that does not clearly show how what I am trying to say about neural networks works in this regard. Nor for that matter directly addressing what your concerns are with my statements. Those concerns of yours with mine are with getting a clear picture what things would be like without argumentation, or logic, or moral systems in ordinary human affairs as you understand my point concerning neural networks.

Doyle To begin with SnitgrrRl I agree with your statement I quote above concerning what we create or not and what we are born into. You asked me this question off list:


And, it's difficult to understand how you make the leap from NS research to social phenom. Prob because I operate w/ a diff understanding of society than you. Here, the idea is that society--social life--is more than the sum of its individual parts, so you can's explain society by recourse to super micro level phenemena like NS research. Although you might be able to explain how the two interact at a micro level as Lakoff and ?? appear to do from what I gather. and from there you can build toward meso level theories and on to macro level theories. But they're not reducible to one another.

Doyle I have to start with history and natural history with regard to understanding neural networks because much of the arguments in the literature are framed from a complex of understanding anatomy in animals and humans, tool use in our ancestors, and how language works in linguistic studies. There are clearly relationships between language and the mind and therefore to ignore them in theorizing a brain is fatal. That is why Chomsky is important as a thinker. But animals without language do not engage in argumentation to form societies. They utilize neural networks with no capacity near our own, but they don¹t have to use argumentation or logic to get what their needs are to meet. So we have an everyday sense that animals don¹t need moral systems, so what is the institution socially constructed about moral systems have to do with the brain?

Doyle Lakoff is a linguist who started out in the sixties with the groups forming around Chomsky¹s attempt to universalize the grammar structure of human languages through the tools of mathematical logic. Lakoff relies upon the work of Eleanor Heider Rosch, Natural Categories, 1973, Cognitive Psychology. Prototypes which appear in language are the basis for Lakoff focusing upon metaphors and metonymy as the main form to carry the meaning of language. Prototypes seem to me so much like what the state of neuro-network might be that I draw the obvious conclusion. I admit though that I am not trained to justify all these levels I am throwing in here. And for that reason your skepticism is welcome and a good challenge to me.

Doyle For example in the life I encounter every day, I was in a Burger King. A cop walks in with his radio microphone stuck to his left shoulder, so that he can always call "headquarters". The staff taking orders has headsets on to talk to the cooks and other staff behind the order counter over the din of noise in the restaurant. What I am illustrating is that the technology of communication is going toward us carrying a communication device around with us all the time. If we look at communication as strictly a talking device as logic would imply we lose all the meaning that is not conventional language structure. We have feelings all the time, but conventional language does not reflect how feelings are always present. Nor once physical distance is so much a part of forming groups as carrying communication devices like cell phones imply do we appreciate what it takes to form groups outside what we can convey with words. I¹ll give another example;

Doyle I was talking to someone with chronic depression who went to a consumer conference on "clutter and hoarding tendencies" in depression. The point is that such people cannot stand to have someone touch their piles of clutter and hoards. Instead they might need an aide who sits with them to go through piles so they can address the issues of the feelings that cause the piles to happen. This is typical of depressed states of mind. How does one talk about those issues logically, morally, ethically? I¹ll give another example;

Doyle I am working at a new job site with a heavy emphasis upon production. In the work force that I associate with certain persons are labeled as crazy by their co-workers because they have a strong need to control their work. They aren¹t "cooperative". One cannot "reason" with the person, and besides they aren¹t crazy in a sense that we associate with mania, or schizophrenia, or degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer¹s. Yet there is not a moral way that I know of to penetrate that sort of shell of control needs in a person whom I can¹t think of as morally bad, any more than I would think someone who is obsessive and compulsive is a morally bad. How does one work with these things?

Doyle Part of this is a technical issue. From my comments above, the communication devices we use allow us much greater ability to be at a distance from other people to whom we are connected to. Tell me how logically formed moral systems are a part of such things? Where is the technology aimed to meet those demands. Will you say that feelings are not a part of developing technology as I would say feelings are absolutely necessary in a neural network sense of a totality of interconnection? Do you think the technology must ignore what are not logical structures in human thought?

SnitgrrRl "It is still accurate to say that society wouldn't exist w/o human activities and practices that uphold society. It is also quite proper to acknowledge that people couldn't do what they do and say what they say w/o society--that is, without conception of what they are saying and doing that is handed down to them through culture, history, etc. In other words, we are born into a world in which there is language, money, credit cards and all the practices associated w/ them."

Doyle So I could easily bring up here there is a connection between large scale cultural tools like the movie, or television and understanding the micro level function of the brain. I would say this because for instance frame rate (how many times a frame or image is presented to the eye) in a movie is required by the visual function of neural networks. But there is also a connection to writing systems and how the brain works such as we experience in such conditions as dyslexia. In other words many minute and small scale workings control whether or not we experience dyslexia when reading. And we want to understand those micro scale workings in order to deal with dyslexia. Or frame rate when viewing movies, or any other thinking process really. Otherwise we are scrambling in the dark about what we are doing when we use our minds.

Doyle But that is not the crux of your objections to my statements.

> The point, of course, still remains: Doyle
> needs to address this issue though, how can
> conversation and argument take place w/o logic.

Doyle For instance the fact that human beings can see patterns very quickly is not logic like. You can recognize your Mother¹s face, but what is logical about that? Poetry and song aren¹t logical statements. The duration and content of ordinary speech is a lot different from writing forms. We can say a lot more by exchanging photographs, movies, and sound recordings. This would not be much like conversation and argument as it is currently understood. It would open up how we understand the world well beyond what can possibly be done with purely logical argumentation in so far as ordinary human beings are concerned. I am not saying we get rid of logic completely but properly integrate it within the context of how neuro networks actually work. Those workings are nor primarily logic like connections.

Doyle How often do you rely upon arguing to gain an understanding in someone else?

As an example I think teachers rely upon lectures to get the point across, but that many students often don't seem to get the best lecture, and require something else to get the point. Even if we don¹t have the technology to carry around with us all day, a neural network tells us the limitation of logic in ordinary human communication. Knowing how neural networks function tells us how to strategize to accomplish interconnection more realistically than pure logic, or tell us why moral systems fail, or what social "norms" really are. Regards, Doyle -------------- next part -------------- An HTML attachment was scrubbed... URL: <../attachments/19981206/30057c19/attachment.htm>

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