The Evolution of Complexity - Abstracts.

Representations as We Know Them

By Robert Pallbo

  • Lund University Cognitive Science.
  • Kungshuset/Lundagard.
  • S-222 22 LUND
  • Sweden.
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  • Abstract:

    In traditional models of the mind, the mind is recreating an image of an independent and pregiven external world by means of mental representations. A problem with this approach, however, is that it supposes information to reside outside the mental world. Therefore, the information must somehow break through the barrier of the self in order to become a first person experience. Another issue dealt with in this tradition is how the representations acquire a semantic content.

    In self-less models of the mind, however, this problem never appears. The reason for this is simply that the first person experience is never obliterated in the first place. All knowledge of the world comes from the first person experience of interacting with this world, as argued by e.g. Varela et al. That is, the organism takes an active role in obtaining its knowledge and does not passively receive it from the environment.

    Another issue dealt with in the traditional models of the mind, is how the representations can acquire a semantic content. In a self-less model of the mind, this is not a problem. The idea that a semantic content must be attached to a representation, arise from the assumption that the knowledge is syntactical in nature. By starting out from the first person experience, however, knowledge is personal and thus meaningful from the beginning.

    A model of a self-less mind in the traditional sense is impossible. We can only create a model of the mind in which it obtains knowledge and semantics for the first person - not for us as external observers as we are outside the barrier. A model of a self-less mind must therefore be a model of how the mind is able to develop itself. One such model would be to view the mind as an evolutionary process. Evolution, after all, abolished the need for an external agent in the development of the species. How the mind can be viewed like this, was the subject of an earlier paper by the author [1]. The current work has developed from this study.

    References: [1] R. Pallbo, Mind as Evolution and Evolution as Such, in submittance,

    preprinted as Lund University Cognitive Studies 34, LUHFDA/HFKO-5024-SE,