December 14, 2016

Two Cars

Daniel Dennet (1968) writes about two cars, and their foolish owners

"It is possible, perhaps, that the brain has ... 'language' or 'code' or what Zeman calls 'the brain writing ...', [if so] there would also have to be mechanisms for 'reading' and 'understanding' this language. Without such mechanisms, the storage and transmission of sentence-like things in the brain would be as futile as saying "giddyap' to an automobile.' These reading mechanisms, in turn, would have to be information processing systems, and what are we to say of *their* internal states and events? Do *they* have syntactically analysable parts? The regress must end eventually..." p 87

He goes on to say that there is language in the brain is merely positing a little man in the brain, or car.

Dennet (1968) also writes

"Imagine a fool putting a television camera on his car and connecting it to a small receiver under the bonnet so the engine could 'see where it is going.' The madness in this is that although an image has been provided, no provision has been made for anyone or anything analogous to a perceiver to watch the image. This makes it clear that if an image is to function as an element in *perception*, it will have to function as the raw material and not the end product, for if we suppose that the product of the perceptual process is an image, we shall have to design a perceiver-analogue to sit in front of the image and yet another to sit in front of the image which is the end product of perception in the perceiver-analogue and so forth ad-infinitum." p134

He goes on to say that this too is merely positing a little man in the brain, or car.

This is ridiculous, Dennet, argues. And yet there seems to be both language and images in the brain. Or is there? The images and language are in mind, and the car or "brain" is an image or word, that Dennet believes in. The since both language and images seem imply eyes and ears, the presence of language and images mixed with perception in mind encourages us to believe that mind must have an eye or ear and is thus [in] one or other of these cars. The belief in these objective entities, cars, and brains that we think we drive and inhabit encourages us to "split ourselves" and "spectate," (Smith, 1770/2002) for all sorts of economic benefits (Smith, 1778).

We do not internalise these spectators or generalised others to understand or evaluate ourselves. The causal link is reversed. We understand or evaluate ourselves to split ourselves. The personal benefits are narcissistic: we get to love ourselves. The societal benefits (?) are ceaseless economic activity.

This what I want to write about the function of words in Western, and images in Japanese, minds.

C.f. The Navaho legend about the old women that the hero finds that encourage the Navaho to be industrious (so the hero does not kill them).

Dennett, D. C. (1986). Content and Consciousness. Routledge.
Smith, A. (2002). Adam Smith: The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Cambridge University Press. (Original work published 1770)
Smith, A. (1778). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. London: W. Strahan.


Posted by timtak at December 14, 2016 09:27 AM
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