KARL JASPERS FORUM
TA 101 (Ulrich Mohrhoff)


Commentary 2

 

WHICH REALITY WE PERCEIVE ?
by Serge Patlavskiy
29 December 2007, posted 5 January 2008


<1>
[Ulrich Mohrhoff] wrote: "[1] Suppose you see a cherry. In what sense is the perceived cherry (the "cherry made of qualia") a faithful depiction of the "real" cherry "out there" (the "cherry made of molecules")?".

<2>
[S.P.] To satisfy the condition formulated in the first sentence (namely, that I see a cherry, but not a peach), I already must grant a necessary portion of "a faithful depiction of the "real" cherry "out there" " to the perceived thing. So, the question formulated in the second sentence is superfluous.

<3>
Let us see how the process of perception works. The electro-magnetic beam falls on a thing's surface, reverberates, and enters the sense organ (an eye) where it transforms into the electric signal which by neuronal channels reaches the brain. At this moment we end up with physical model and come to informational model. So, the electrical signal processes under the supervision of the already available elements of our experience (or, the available information, or previous knowledge), and then it conceptualises, or transforms into a new element of experience (or, into new information, or new knowledge). The acts of processing and conceptualization are modelled as reiterative loops (see [1], Fig.7a). So, on the first loop, the conscious subject gains information that the object of perception is small (the conscious subject has a previous knowledge how to discern between the big and small things), then that it is round (he has a previous knowledge how to discern between the round and square things), then that it is red (he has a previous knowledge how to discern between the red and green things), and so on. The acts of processing and conceptualization last for a fraction of a second, and finish by construction of the intellectual products like : "What I see now looks like a cherry -- a fruit that is already known for me", and "To be sure that the thing is a cherry, I must conduct further investigation".

<4>
At this moment we end up with informational model and return back to physical model. So, the constructed intellectual product (by generating the electrical neuronal signal to stimulate muscles movement) urges the organism to touch the thing that looks like a cherry by its physical probe (like the arm or the lips). Having touched the thing, an electrical signal generates by organism's skin receptors, and, by neuronal channels reaches the brain. Then, as in the case above, we come from physical to informational model, and describe the acts of processing and conceptualization again. The resulting intellectual product may be as follows : "What I have just touched by my fingers and lips is soft, but to be sure that the thing is a cherry, I must conduct more investigation". So, we have just finished the second lap of the process of cognition. But, the more laps are ahead of us yet.

<5>
So, at the third lap of the process of cognition we construct an intellectual product that the object of perception smells like a cherry, but more investigation is required yet. At the fourth lap we conclude that it tastes like a cherry. And, eventually, we make a conclusion that what we see (or, better say, the object of perception we deal with) is a cherry for 100 percent of certainty (in sense of being in one-to-one correspondence with our previous knowledge about a cherry).

<6>
As one can see, "to see a cherry" means to box several laps of the process of cognition. So, if the object of perception IS PERCEIVED by conscious subject as a cherry, from this ALREADY follows that his knowledge about the object of perception is for 100 percent consistent with what is already known for him from his previous experience, and in this sense is faithful. Albeit there is still a possibility that what was known for us as a cherry could not be a cherry for 100 percent, and more investigation (say, on chemical level) is required; therefore, each time we meet the seemingly same object of perception we add some new information about it. Note : the sketched above theory of perception makes no use of such a term as "qualia".

<7>
[Ulrich Mohrhoff] wrote: "[12] Now we seem to have three worlds the phenomenal world, the macroworld, and the microworld and we may be tempted to make the following identifications ...
macroworld = phenomenal world
microworld = real world
... and thereby vindicate the old myth that the senses give us appearances, while science describes things as they really are. But this doesn't square with the supervenience of the microworld on the macroworld.".

<8>
[S.P.] Personally, I prefer to talk about Noumenal Reality as a source of Phenomenal Reality. The last one exists as a collection of the elements of our experience. Both micro- and macro-worlds belong to Phenomenal Reality. The macro-world appears to us in the forms of reflected or averaged phenomena, while the micro-world appears to us in a form of probabilistic phenomena (see [1], Fig.3). A present-day Science describes things as close as possible to what they really are. But, to describe the things as they really are (or, to describe them as the elements of Noumenal Reality) we have to apply some specific information-systemic modelling.  Note: I may suppose that what Ulrich Mohrhoff calls "UR" (short for "ultimate reality") may be conceptually close to what I call Noumenal Reality. Phenomenal Reality -- it is a mental residue that we, as the conscious subjects, have in the result of attempting to percept/investigate Noumenal Reality.

<9>
[Ulrich Mohrhoff] wrote: "[19] The relation between UR and the world has a dual aspect : UR is not only the substance by which the world exists but also the self for which it exists.".

<10>
[S.P.] The irony is that Noumenal Reality (or, in author's term, ultimate reality) is INDESCRIBABLE BY DEFINITION. So, we cannot say whether it is or it isn't a substance, a self, etc. As I have mentioned above, to formalize Noumenal Reality we have to apply a specially constructed information-systemic models which enable to formalize the Wholes as the informationally full systems.

<11>
[Ulrich Mohrhoff] wrote: "[20] What is instrumental in the manifestation of the world is particles, atoms, and such. The proposition is that what is instrumental in the self's consciousness of the world is the brain. The brain is instrumental in the self's seeing a cherry much as a telescope is instrumental in a person's seeing the rings of Saturn.".

<12>
[S.P.] I think it's hard to disagree with. (I hope that by the term "self" the author means "conscious subject" as the element of informational, but not of physical model).

<13>
[Ulrich Mohrhoff] wrote: "[31] What about optical illusions, after-images, color blindness ? What about people suffering from achromatopsia (who see only shades of gray) ? What about Penfield's demonstration that micro-electrode stimulation of the visual system results in visual experiences ? All of the above have been cited as evidence that the visual world is constructed, rather than directly perceived, and that colors are "in the mind," rather than "in the external world." Yet all of the above can also and with better justification cited as evidence that the brain mediates the self's direct perception of (an aspect of) the manifested world.".

<14>
[S.P.] What is important in colour vision is not a colour as such, but a difference between colours. Second. There is no colour as such, and when we talk about a colour, we mean a thing that has such or other colour. The colours only help us to make better difference between the things.

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REFERENCE

[1] http://www.geocities.com/spatlavskiy/ElaborNewParadigm.pdf

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Serge Patlavskiy
e-mail <prodigyPSF (at) rambler.ru>