Once more on the world in the brain

Recently I have raised Max Velmans’ question Is the brain in the world or the world in the brain? on the biosemiotics list. Two of my messages are below.

20.03.2013 11:04

There is my brain in a particular location. I do not experience it directly but I could touch my head with my hand. If my brain is located under my skull then its location, I guess, close to that of the hand. I can touch the mirror with the other hand and I see that locations of my two hands are different. Now I see my image in the mirror and the location of that image is different from the location of my brain.

How would you explain this fact?

I will repeat what I have written in the previous email. According to science, this looks as follows. The mirror reflects photons, photons hit retina, then finally natural artificial networks starts information processing. The information goes one way and according to such a picture the image that one sees in the mirror should reside in the brain.

Could you please describe how according to your opinion the observed phenomena could be saved? That is, how the image has jumped out of the brain into the mirror?

24.03.2013 08:27

Let me offer you a simple experiment to better describe my point.

I am strongly nearsighted (-10 diopters). I look at the chair with glasses and without them. The image looks differently. In both cases the image seems to be outside of my brain but presumably there is some connection as with glasses and without the image is different.

If you have glasses, you can easily repeat this experiment.

Now the question. By the way, I do not deny that there is a real chair (Kant’s Ding an sich). I am trying to understand how modern biology would describe the results of such a simple experiment. My primary interest here is connected to geometry, that is, to locations of different pieces in the 3D world that I observe.

I would put my question as follows:

Is the visual experience of the chair geometrically in the brain or outside of the brain?

What modern biology would say to that?


Liz has recommended the paper

Fingelkurts, A., Fingelkurts, A., and Neves, C. (2010). “Natural World Physical, Brain Operational, and Mind Phenomenal Space-Time”. *Physics of Life Reviews* 7(2): 195-249.

I would referred to this paper as to a review on The World in the Brain (see Fig 11 in the paper).

From Abstract:

We would like to discuss the hypothesis that via the brain operational space-time the mind subjective space-time is connected to otherwise distant physical space-time reality.”

Section 3. Space and time in mind, 3.1. Phenomenal space

As it was pointed Smythies [333] this phenomenal space may be identical with some aspect of brain space but not with any aspect of external physical space. The same idea was explicitly formulated by Searle [334]: “The brain creates a body image, and pains, like all bodily sensations, are parts of the body image.  The pain-in-the-foot is literally in the physical space of the brain.”

There are more references on such an idea. It seems to be popular among neuroscientists.

Discussion about the paper



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