Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Consciousness according to Julian Jaynes

Below is my personal memo from

Julian Jaynes'
(1976/1990, Houghton Mifflin Company)



Denotative definition: what is introspectable, as it was for Descartes, Locke, and Hume. (p. 450)

Connotative definition: an analogy 'I' narratizing in a functional mind-space. (p. 450)

What consciousness is NOT: reactivity or perception.

What consciousness may NOT be involved in: hosts of perceptual phenomena; performance of skills; speaking, writing, listening or reading; learning;creative reasoning. (pp. 46-47, 447-449)


2.1 General Theory of Metaphor (See Note 1)

"The most fascinating property of language is its capacity to make metaphors." (p. 48)

"The lexicon of language, then, is a finite set of terms that by metaphor is able to stretch out over an infinite set of circumstances, even to creating new circumstances thereby. " (p. 52)

With language, when you want to express something that was inexpressible, you use a metaphier, a known word, to express the inexpressible.

The metaphier creates a metaphrand, a new entity that used to be the inexpressible. (METAPHIER -> METAPHRAND)

The metaphier has paraphiers, associations or attributes of the metaphier. (METAPHIER/PARAPHIERS)

The paraphiers create paraphrands, new associations or attributes the metaphrand obtains. (PARAPHIERS -> PARAPHRANDS)

The metaphier/paraphiers creates a new entitiy with new associations or attributes, the metaphrand/paraphrands. (METAPHIER/PARAPHIERS -> METAPHRAND/PARAPHRANDS)

2.2 Creation or invention of consciousness

The inexpressible: the mind

-> Metaphier: "I see [the new idea]!"

=> Metaphrand "The analog I sees [the new idea]."

-> Paraphier 1:

=> Paraphrand 1: The analog 'I' has the analog space.

-> Praphier 2:

=> Paraphrand 2: "Ideas are objects in the analog space."

=> Metaphrand/Praraphrand: The analog 'I' handling some objects in the analog space (or the mind-space). [Creation or invention of consciousness]

=>Consciousness is often assumed to behave just like I, the physical body, behave in the physical space.

=>If new ideas are objects in the mind-space, future actions or decisions can also be objects in the mind-space and the analog I can handle them in the mind-space.


"Subjective conscious mind is an analog of what is called the real world. It is built up with a vocabulary of lexical field whose terms are all metaphors or analogs of behavior in the physical world. Its reality is of the same order as mathematics. It allows us to shortcut behavioral processes and arrive at more adequate decisions. Like mathematics, it is an operator rather than a thing or repository. And it is intimately bound up with volition and decision. " (p. 55)

"[With consciousness], humans can ' look' into an imagined future with all its potential of terror, joy, hope, or ambition, just as if it were already real, and into a past moody with what might have been, or savoring what did, the past emerging through the metaphier of a space through whose long shadows we may move in a new and magical process called remembrance or reminiscence." (pp. 456-457)

"Along this new lifetime, putting together similar occurrences or excerpts of them -- inferences from what others tell us we are and from what we can tell ourselves on the basis of our own consciousness of what we have done -- we come to construct or invent, on a continuing basis, in ourselves and in others, a self. the advantage of an idea of your self is to help you know what you can or can't do or should or should not do." (pp. 457-458)


4.1 Spatialization

Consciousness works within mind-space. Consciousness even spatialize time. (p. 60)

4.2 Excerption

"We are never conscious of things in their true nature, only of the excerpts we make of them." (p. 61)

4.3 The Analog 'I'

"[The analog 'I']can 'move about' vicarially in our 'imagination', 'doing' things that we are not actually doing." (pp. 62-63)

4.4 Metaphor 'Me'

The analog 'I' sees a metaphor me. (See Supplement)

4.4.1 Analog 'I', Metaphor 'Me' and 'Self'

Is the 'Self' the complex of the Analog 'I' and the Metaphor 'Me'? I'm not sure.

4.4.2 The ontology of the Analog 'I'

The analog 'I' is the limit of the consciousness? (I'm not sure). See 5.6 of Tractatus by Wittgenstein (See Note)

4.4.3 The ontology of the Metaphor 'Me'

The metaphor 'me' is an object in consciousness, probably the most important object.

4.5 Narratization

"In consciousness, we are always seeing our vicarial selves as the main figures in the stories of our lives." (p. 63)

"New situations are selectively perceived as part of this ongoing story, perceptions that do not fit into it being unnoticed or at least unremembered. More important, situations are chosen which are congruent to this ongoing story, until the picture I have of myself in my life story determines how I am to act and choose in novel situations as they arise. " (p. 64)

"The assigning of causes to our behavior or saying why we did a particular thing is all a part of narratization. Such causes as reasons may be true or false, neutral or ideal. " (p. 64)

"But it is not just our own analog 'I' that we are narratizing ; it is everything else in consciousness. A stray fact is narratized to fit with some other stray fact. A child cries in the street and we narratize the event into a mental picture of a lost child and a parent searching for it. A cat is up in a tree and we narratize the event into a picture of a dog chasing it there. Or the facts of mind as we can understand them into a theory of consciousness. " (p. 64)

4.6 Conciliation (or compatibilization, consillience)

"In conciliation, we are making excerpts or narratizations compatible with each other, just as in external perception the new stimulus and the internal conception are made to agree. " (p. 65)

5 Consciousness according to Julian Jaynes, as I understood it

The mind-space that the analog 'I' observes, in which the metaphor 'me' and other important mental objects behave with some the mental objects according to a story that emerges. (I'm not sure.)


Note to 2.1 General Theory of Metaphor: Read (again) the following books.

Metaphors We Live By

Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things

Philosophy in the Flesh : The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought
Available in Questia)

Note to 4.4.2 The ontology of the Analog 'I'

Propositions in 5.6 in Tractatus by Wittgenstein are as follows:

The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.

Logic fills the world: the limits of the world are also its limits.
We cannot therefore say in logic: This and this there is in the world, that there is not.

For that would apparently presuppose that we exclude certain possibilities, and this cannot be the case since otherwise logic must get outside the limits of the world: that is, if it could consider these limits from the other side also.

What we cannot think, that we cannot think: we cannot therefore say what we cannot think.

This remark provides a key to the question, to what extent solipsism is a truth.
In fact what solipsism means, is quite correct, only it cannot be said, but it shows itself.

That the world is my world, shows itself in the fact that the limits of the language (the language which I understand) mean the limits of my world.

I am the world. (The microcosm.)
The thinking, presenting subject; there is no such thing.
If I wrote a book The world as I found it, I should also have therein to report on my body and say which members obey my will and which do not, etc. This then would be a method of isolating the subject or rather of showing that in an important sense there is no subject: that is to say, of it alone in this book mention could not be made.

The subject does not belong to the world but it is a limit of the world
Where in the world is a metaphysical subject to be noted?
You say that this case is altogether like that of the eye and the field of sight. But you do not really see the eye.

And from nothing in the field of sight can it be concluded that it is seen from an eye.

5.6331 From the form of the visual field is surely not like this. [Figure omitted. To see the figure, see the version that contains German, and Ogden and Pears & McGuinness translations]

This is connected with the fact that no part of our experience is also a priori.
Everything we see could also be otherwise.

Everything we describe at all could also be otherwise.

There is no order of things a priori.

Here we see that solipsism strictly carried out coincides with pure realism. The I in solipsism shrinks to an extensionless point and there remains the reality co-ordinated with it.
There is therefore really a sense in which the philosophy we can talk of a non-psychological I.
The I occurs in philosophy through the fact that the "world is my world".

The philosophical I is not the man, not the human body or the human soul of which psychology treats, but the metaphysical subject, the limit -- not a part of the world.

The above translation was obtained from Hypertext of the Ogden bilingual edition

The version that contains German, and Ogden and Pears & McGuinness translations Side-by-Side-by-Side


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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Emergence of the individual mind-set?

Quotation from

Good Grief: Is there a better way to be bereaved?
By Meghan O'Rourke
The New Yorker, February 1, 2010, p. 71.

With the rise of psychoanalysis came a shift in attention from the communal to the individual experience. Only two years after Emile Durkheim wrote about mourning as an essential social process, Freud's "Mourning and Melancholia" Defined it as something fundamentally private and individual. In a stroke, the work of mourning had bceome internalized. As Aries says, withing a few generations grief had undergone a fundamental change: death and mourning had been largely removed from the public realm.


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Stop arguing about words

Quotation from

Silent Quantum Genius
by Freeman Dyson
The New York Review of Books, February 25, 2010, p. 23.

About Paul Dirac, who lead the second revolution in physics in the 20 th century, quantum mechanics.

He [=Paul Dirac] said, as Galileo said three hundred years earlier,that mathematics is the language that nature speaks. When expressed in mathematical equations,the laws of quantum mechanics are clear and unambiguous. Confusion arises from misguided attempts to translate the laws from mathematics to human language.

Human language describes the world of everyday life,and lacks the concepts that could describe quantum processes accurately. Dirac said we should stop arguing about words,stay with mathematics, and allow the philosophical fog to blow away. I consider Dirac's disengagement from verbal disputes about the meaning of quantum mechanics to be an essential part of his legacy. But I am,as usual,in the minority.


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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Time is the new dimension

Quotation from

By David Gelernter

With tremendous search engines and massive storage on the Cloud, space is no longer a problem . We no longer need cabinets, bookshelves or libraries that occupy physical space.

The scarce resource now is time. Instead of wondering how we place information in space, the old scarce resource, we now wonder how we organize time.

After all, we're mortal.

23. The Internet's future is not Web 2.0 or 200.0 but the post-Web, where time instead of space is the organizing principle -- instead of many stained-glass windows, instead of information laid out in space, like vegetables at a market -- the Net will be many streams of information flowing through time.

However, the current web culture consumes our scarce resource with immense information about 'now.' (I hardly understand why people enjoy twittering. For me, it is filling up your life with garbage.)

29. Nowness is one of the most important cultural phenomena of the modern age: the western world's attention shifted gradually from the deep but narrow domain of one family or village and its history to the (broader but shallower) domains of the larger community, the nation, the world. The cult of celebrity, the importance of opinion polls, the decline in the teaching and learning of history, the uniformity of opinions and attitudes in academia and other educated elites -- they are all part of one phenomenon.

However, no instrument is bad (or good) in itself; we can use it wisely.

31. But -- the Internet could be the most powerful device ever invented for understanding the past, and the texture of time. Once we understand the inherent bias in an instrument, we can correct it. The Internet has a large bias in favor of now. Using lifestreams (which arrange information in time instead of space), historians can assemble, argue about and gradually refine timelines of historical fact.

As well as the prejudice for nowness, the current web culture has the prejudice for our own prejudice. The Internet enhances our prejudice enormously in many people.

But again, we can use the Internet wisely, that is, we may stop our bounded rationality limit our potentiality.

34. The Internet today is, after all, a machine for reinforcing our prejudices. The wider the selection of information, the more finicky we can be about choosing just what we like and ignoring the rest. On the Net we have the satisfaction of reading only opinions we already agree with, only facts (or alleged facts) we already know. You might read ten stories about ten different topics in a traditional newspaper; on the net, many people spend that same amount of time reading ten stories about the same topic. But again, once we understand the inherent bias in an instrument, we can correct it. One of the hardest, most fascinating problems of this cyber-century is how to add "drift" to the net, so that your view sometimes wanders (as your mind wanders when you're tired) into places you hadn't planned to go. Touching the machine brings the original topic back. We need help overcoming rationality sometimes, and allowing our thoughts to wander and metamorphose as they do in sleep.


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Friday, March 12, 2010

Economics = Poetry + Mathematics?

Quotation from

THE DEFLATIONSIT: How Paul Krugman found politics
by Larissa MacFarquhar
The New Yorker, March 1, 2010, pp. 38-49.

"Economic geography" is about regional specialties. It explains why a particular region gained a comparative advantage with a particular product and benefits from economies of scale-- by history and accident.

"I explained this basic idea" --of economic geography-- "to a non-economist friend," Krugman wrote, "who replied in some dismay, 'Isn't that pretty obvious?' And of course it is." Yet, because it had not been well modelled, the idea had been disregarded by economists for years. Krugman began to realize that in the previous few decades economic knowledge that had not been translated into models had effectively lost, because economists didn't know what to do with it. (p. 45)

Krugman is superb at deciding what to explain and what not to:

He [=Krugman] could take an intriguing notion that had come up in real-world discussions, pare away the details (knowing just what to take out and what was essential), and refine what was left into a clean, clever, "cute" (as he liked to put it), and simple model. "It's poetry," Kenneth Rogoff, an economist at Harvard says. (p. 45)

Economic models often explains some aspect of really really beautifully at the price of neglecting more important aspect.

"I think there's a pretty good case to be made that the stuff that I stressed in the models is a less important story than the things that I left out because I couldn't model them, like spillovers of information and social networks," he says. But failure to represent reality accurately is rarely a fatal flaw in an economics model -- what's valued is the model's usefulness as an analytic tool. (p. 45)

Sometimes we choose to be ignorant to look smart.


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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

science of socially shared stories

Quotation from

HEAD CASE: Can psychiatry be a science
by Louis Menand
The New Yorker, March 1, 2010, pp. 68-74.

In this article, Louis Menand, a professor of English at Harvard, reviews The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth by Irving Kirsch, a professor of psychology at the University of Hull, United Kingdom, and professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut in the United States.

Kirsch, according to Menand, concludes from his meta-analyses of antidepressant drug trials that antidepressants are just fancy placebos. But, then, how come that each drug had statistically significant superiority over the placebo when it was approved in the drug trial?

Kirsh argues that despite the scheme of double-blind tests, the patients (who are paid) can assume whether they're taking the drug or not by detecting in them side effects such as nausea, restlessness, dry mouth, and so on, which the placebo does not cause. Menand summarizes Kirsch's argument:

This means that a patient who experiences minor side effects can conclude that he is taking the drug, and start to feel better, and a patient who doesn't experience side effects can conclude that she's taking the placebo, and feel worse. On Kirsch's calculation, the placebo effect ― you believe that you are taking a pill that will make you feel better; therefore, you feel better ― wipes out the statistical difference. (p. 70)

The placebo effect is an established fact in experiments.

He [=Kirsch] cites a 1957 study at the University of Oklahoma in which subjects were given a drug that induced nausea and vomiting, and then another drug, which they were told prevents nausea and vomiting. After the first anti-nausea drug, the subjects were switched to a different anti-nausea drug, then a third, and so on. By the sixth switch, a hundred percent of the subjects reported that they no longer felt nauseous ― even though every one of the anti-nausea drugs was a placebo. (pp. 70-71)

It seems to me that science of the placebo is more important than science of developing new drugs, if your drive is science, not profit.

Menand reports that the effects of different treatments are only mixed:

Later studies have shown that patients suffering from depression and anxiety do equally well when treated by psychoanalysts and by behavioral therapists; that there is no difference in effectiveness between C.B.T. [=cognitive-behavioral therapy], which focuses on the way patients reason, and interpersonal therapy, which focuses on their relations with other people; and that patients who are treated by psychotherapists do no better than patients who meet with sympathetic professors with no psychiatric training. Depressed patients in psychotherapy do no better or worse than depressed patients on medication. There is little evidence to support the assumption that supplementing antidepressant medication with talk therapy improve outcomes. What a load of evidence does seem to suggest is that care works for some of the people some of the time, and it doesn't much matter what sort of care it is. Patients believe that they are being cared for by someone who will make them feel better; therefore, they feel better. It makes no difference whether they're lying on a couch interpreting dreams or sitting in a Starbucks discussing the concept of "flow." (p. 71)

Is this then, science of care, rather than science of the placebo, that should be explored? Or is it science of social expectation?

A narrative becomes a story when it matches social expectation; when it is socially (and/or culturally) accepted and shared. What we may need may be science of socially shared stories.


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