Ah, Hofstadter! This interview was a joy to read. I read Mind's I when I was in junior high, and being infatuated with the mystery and wonder of consciousness it filled a great hunger. That said, I was totally disappointed when I got the ant-colony chapter and they failed to see what I saw at the time as a huge philosophical gap yet to be addressed... but I haven't thought about it much in recent years so I wonder if I'd see that same gap now?
Okay, thinking about again now I remember the problem I had. The explanatory gap was this: how do individual primordial minds (ants, neurons, whatever) make the discrete transition to one unified mind? Some argue that our minds are not unified, but I hallucinate myself as unified, my experience is all I can know from, and I cannot help but need an explanation for my unification.
It is the same question as: When does consciousness ''start'' in the development of a prenatal human or other animal? At what point? And what is so special about this moment, physically? My answer has been that an individual consciousness never does begin--it simply always has been. In the development of animals we must amplify or expand self-hallucinations which have always been. So the leap doesn't have to be made! All right then, I'm satisfied for the moment with a new conception of the world as abundant, perhaps infinite, information recursions which are amplified in the development of organisms, espcially the animals. Little soul-seeds.
Maybe DRH and Dennet saw it like this when they chose that ant-colony chapter. I wish I could know how they'd answer this question.
P.S. I'm going to read Strange Loop now, with the express intent of comparing it to the Radical Constructivism (a philosphy, sort of) of Ernst von Glasersfeld. He draws on cyberntics (recursion, computation, perception) as well as linguistics, with references to translation. His philosophy deals with the process of knowing and the cognition and should be of interest to some DRH fans.
| Posted on Friday, 16 October 2009 at 14:14 GMT [Reply to this] [Permalink]|