Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Note on Our Twelfth Meeting

We read a paper that criticizes several contemporary theories of the self and offers a different view based on the phenomenological tradition, according to which the self essentially involves one's felt experience in the world.

Abstractions are constructs on a more fundamental thing—in this case, the abstract behavioral components are abstractions from contextualized behavior. This may cause problems for familiar discussions of mind-uploading.

First- and third-person perspectives:
The thesis that shifting between the first- and third-personal perspective may distort one or the other. If you start reflecting, trying to make yourself into an object (third-personal stance), this distorts subjectivity.

Two takes:
The third-personal perspective as the view from nowhere—totally abstracts away from one’s particularity. Detachment is what distinguishes the third-personal from the first-personal.

Phenomenologists’ view: think of third-personal in terms of intersubjectivity—seeing how one’s particular perspective fits in a law-governed way with other particular (and some actual) perspectives.

The first-person point of view and the way it has been experienced has been neglected by the tradition. It is often treated in a third-personal way, abstracting away from the particularities that make it the particular perspective it is.

The metaphor of a point of view: a point of view from nowhere is incoherent, because a point of view involves a particular perspective on a situation.

Cases in which action, intention and bodily ownership can come apart:

“My hand is moving, but I don’t know why.” In the Anarchic Hand Syndrome case, there is recognition that the behavior is intentional, but no recognition of the intention guiding the arm. Ownership of the arm, but not the action. No felt connection between the intention and the action.

“I have to do this, but I don’t want to.” In OCD, there is recognition of the intention, but it is experienced as foreign. Ownership of the action, but not the intention. A felt connection between the intention and the action.

It seems, then, that felt connection between the intention and the action is sufficient for ownership of an action (where ownership is not endorsement).

Merleau-Ponty: habits are common ways of organizing ourselves in the environment in meaningful ways. It is important that the action we are doing habitually is our own, even if we do not endorse the springs of the action.

Three phases of integration: integrating my bodily senses, integrating basic gestures tied up with sensation (motion-sensation interplay), reflection on intentions guiding an action.

The perspective of ownership is active, sensory awareness. As long as you can be actively aware through sensation of the purpose guiding a piece of behavior, then you own that action.
This makes sense of the Anarchic Hand cases: the person cannot experience the purpose guiding the behavior, and so does not own the action.

And also the OCD cases: the person can experience the purpose guiding the behavior, and so owns the action, even though she does not endorse it.

But when they say that the OCD patient owns the action but not the intention, it seems they must have a different sense of ‘ownership’ here.
            Better to talk of ‘endorsement’ of the intention here.

A suggestion: perhaps there are fewer problems with mind-uploading if the mind and the environment are created at the same time. This goes along nicely with the point that mental attitudes cannot be fully decontextualized.
There is no clear distinction between the mind and the environment, because there is no mental content in abstraction from the context given by the environment.

1 comment:

  1. An alternative conclusion could be that since the view under discussion goes well with an extreme externalism of mental content, it is incorrect.

    Counter example to extreme externalism: a curator facing a counterfeit of Mona Lisa, is not thinking of the counterfeit, but of the original.