Language, art, and the origins of creativity

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by charleswood, Oct 10, 2015.

  1. In our species something happened 60, 70, 80 thousand years ago or so that allowed us to represent ourselves and our self as an object. Decorative and representational art wasn't in the fossil record left by our pre-homo sapiens ancestors. Instead in that prior record were millions of years of tools dropped or discarded to yet be only replaced by a tool like it, never replaced in those millions of years by a tool that was decorated by our pre Homo sapiens ancestors. Then along came Homo sapiens and a well noted change in the artifacts coming from archeological digs. What we see emerge then is what we can still observe today. Paul Sellers writes of Spoons of Purpose and Character Done, in part :

    Where I live is a country regionally known for a long history of making love spoons. My tour of St Fagan’s museum last year revealed the oldest known love spoon, one made in the late 1600’s. A love spoon was and perhaps in some cases still made and given to a beloved as a token of a man’s love for his betrothed and was hand carved with knives and chisels into the most ornate of shapes and sizes. Of course it need not be gender specific any more. It wasn’t only Wales that held to the tradition, Germany and Scandinavian countries shared the same tradition. The spoons originated as practical and useable spoons, but they became more ornate and more decorative through the centuries. Today, they are produced mostly by commercial CNC routers and look just like that. No feeling in the racks of gift shops I mean. They are tourist items and mostly all stained the same and seem somehow now to be so characterless.​

    Practical, usable tool is a spoon, ornate and decoratively produced by a species that can portray itself as a self that loves. We portray ourselves within the broader context of being aware of being a self that loves, that broader context being a story or play in which the individual self is aware of being an actor in a play, the lovers decorating themselves as actors in a play of betrothal and marriage. Even the useful domestic object, the spoon, commerates with decoration the feelings attendant in the play. It probably goes without saying that mountain gorillas don't dress up when they decide to marry. Dress up is a story and a story is an artifact of a self that is aware that it is self-aware, aware that it dresses up. If we find an instance of another animal that dresses up for marriage then we may have found another instance in the natural world of a being that is aware that it is self-aware, is aware of its sentience, not merely sentient as is a dog sentient.

    Awareness of self as a ‘self-reflecting self’ came into being just a blink ago and can be seen as a marker in our species of a quantum leap in language. Today even cognitive science doesn't know what language is just as we can't define art because art too is a language of a self-reflecting self. As a self-reflecting self we are almost hopelessly unaware of the mental processes within us that are involved in the self-expressions of a self-reflecting self. What is known is that we are aware of being self-aware.
    My dog is self-aware, but he isn't aware that he is self-aware and so I can claim to be one-up on him because at least I know I am just a man whilst he does not know that he is just a dog and no attempt to push into his language that concept will take hold in him or his species. Likewise, no abundance of time and resources encouraged our non-homo sapiens ancestors to do more with spare time than to sleep and play. They just didn't have a self-aware self within them to make more of play, someting any visit to a zoo holding our more distant cousins should confirm. What we don't know is why the change, we only know that there was a change where representational art and tool decoration appeared. Other animals may be intelligent, but they don't know they are an object called 'intelligent animal', not that their language couldn't accommodate as an object a self-referencing object called self-aware object. A dog can play with an object as if it was something else, play with a ball as if it was a prey animal. A crow can play. What we don't see accommodated in crow play are objects that represent the crow as a crow player. Crow play doesn't include a representation of crow watching a crow play. Instead the crow is always in the play playing. Not represented in its play is 'crow the observer' observing himself as 'crow the player'. If a crow knew it was just another self-aware object I don't see why crow language with its ready-made placeholders couldn't accommodate yet another object. Another way to say it is that crows will educate their young by showing them what to do to succeed as a crow. In that sense, a crow is acting in a sort of play, and animals will play with their children to teach lessons. So far we haven't observed a crow make crow puppets and perform a play with the crow puppets before an assembly of juvenile crows, that is, we haven't observed evidence that a crow is aware that it is self-aware and able to objectify itself in a complete representation of itself as Crow. As far as we can tell, crow play doesn't open with the equivalent of Melville's Moby Dick "Call me Ishmael." As far as we know.

    [Skip this on Theory of Mind:]
    One test for self-awareness could infer self-awareness from the existence in a species of Theory of Mind (ToM). You can't parsimoniously explain how one self can attribute mental states [beliefs, intents, etc.] to another and not be aware that one also has a mental state one's self. However self-awareness is one property, being aware of being self-aware is another property altogether. You can be aware of having a mental state, of having or being in the process of forming intent; but it is another thing to then self-represent as a collection of self-representations. You can be aware of acting from a picture of things that include you. It is another thing to be aware that you are a collection of pictures of things that represent you and contribute to forming intent. In one case you are aware of the picture only insofar as your intent is part of the picture. It is another thing altogether to form a picture of one's self as a self that watches itself form intent and watches as that intent creates change in a picture.

    For example, a dog can form intent but isn't aware of itself as just another intent forming object. If you observed instances in which a dog was playing with toy dogs as representations of itself then you would have arguably found an instance of self-aware self-awareness in a dog, a dog that can contemplate itself in its whole and its parts in a representation of its relation to externalities. I haven't seen a dog playing with little dog toys as puppets, arranging those dog toys in a self-referencing drama to act out the pieces of its mind with dog toy actors as surrogates for objects within its own mental space. I haven't seen that, but I have seen it in a documentary. That documentary could have demonstrated a capacity for and use of self-reflection by a dog; but it would be hard to know if the dog in that documentary actually knew it was acting 'itself' out as opposed to just acting out without being aware that it was acting out. Even if it was so aware of being aware it doesn't mean such is habitual or well rooted. What we can be sure of is that dog's possess self-awareness because they do use ToM.

    For example, my dog can trick me. He can attribute to me the mental state of "He's going to say No." He can then create in me a "Yes" mental state by misleading me about his intentions. For example, he misleads me into unleashing him by signaling to me that he wants off the leash to get water. I comply and at once his true intent is realized when he runs to find the known prey animal I leashed him up to drag him 200 yards to get away from. So he gets me to think one thing so that he can do 'not what I thought he was going to do', but instead do what I specifically didn't want him to do. If by his behavior he can cast toward me one impression of his intentions while concealing another, then he is aware that I have a mental state to fool. He can feign one thing in order to conceal his true intent. He can know his intent and he can then feign a different intent in order to create a misimpression in me. By so doing, he can get what he really wants. Note that my dog thought of the trick himself, probably by intuition instead of reason. Intuition presents consciousness with a completed picture without much, if any, conscious work. Once that picture is delivered, the work is in its testing and my dog can assess the merit of a picture by using his feet, by painting by number to see if the idea works. By the use of his feet my dog shows that he is aware of my mental state as an operant. Necessarily my dog is then aware of his own mental state as an operant, his feet the effect of known mental states as causes, feet being one of the body languages of my dog that point to his intent. What my dog isn't able to do is to create in himself a mental representation of himself as aware of himself as an aware operant. There is no evidence that a dog asks himself why he would go to such lengths to obtain a prey animal. He is self-aware, but he isn't aware that he is self-aware as far as I can demonstrate. What I can demonstrate is that what he can do is to play a trick on me, can author and act out a play quite literally, in order to create for himself the future he intends, create a ‘play’ in which there demonstrably is a 'he' there.

    [End Skip This]

    What other animals seem to lack is the ability to see themselves as seeing themselves. Consequently they can note their mental state, act on it, but they cannot reflect about their mental state as anything other than a given that kicks them in the flank of awareness, prompting them to take over and play out with intention what ultimately is an action prompted by the strings of a puppeteer, the puppeteer resolving to either food or reproduction in some degree or in some combination of both in whatever degree. For a coyote, food is territory, territory is food, food and territory are family and it is difficult to resolve one thing into another, to separate love from food, all mixed in coyote life. Their language is body language and that is the language that signals their intentions, signals the operation of their minds. I don't see anything special about human language other than that human language includes as an object a word that functions like noun and means: a thing aware that is aware. A noun is just a structural placeholder for an object and once a new object is recognized, the object becomes like any other thing that acts. Rodent nouns and verbs, if actually demonstrated to exist in studies that claim to have demonstrated them, can readily accommodate and be modified for a new object, particularly if one subscribes to Chomsky's view that language relies on pre-existing structure.

    Art then would arise from an accommodation made in language for a self-referential self. We don't know what language is. We don't know what art is. It is fair to say that in language and in art, what was our generation's freshness becomes the next generation's stodgy and old. But because of language we, unlike animals, can re-generate ourselves if we care to. Art as language changes as does slang in the hands of a 13 year old. We don't know what language is, we also don't know what art is because it is a derivative of language. We use language to communicate; but communication with others is not the only use of, maybe not even the principal reason for, language. It is with language that we talk to our self, and most of what we say never gets repeated.
    Francesca Woodman took pictures of herself about things that mostly she probably just talked to herself about. She chose to communicate some of those things in pictures. It would be kind of nice if she was still around to talk about those things more fully.
  2. I forgot to ask a question!
  3. Let's say a dog is self-aware. What's the difference then between 'self-awareness' and 'self-aware self-awareness'?
    I think that difference is best illustrated using photography.

    The difference is that a self-aware dog isn't so self-aware that it can assign a name to its 'self-aware self'. Once named, a name for that self-awareness that is a 'me' becomes an object of thought just like any other object is the object of thought. It's not that a sense of a 'me' doesn't exist in a dog; a 'me' exists for a dog. What I'm suggesting is a me can exists in a dog. The difference from our sense of a me and a dog sense of a me is that we can name 'me' and use thought, use awareness to reflect on that 'me'. A name would allow a sense of 'me' to be an object of thought and as a named object a 'me' then becomes available to thought, available to the 'me' for consideration as an object of directed thought as a 'me'. We can think about 'our self'. Name it and think away about it. However just because a dog doesn't have a sense of 'self as a named object' in its language doesn't mean it doesn't have a sense of self. A dog just doesn't have a name for its own sense of self and can't then think about something that doesn't have a mirror existence of itself in the form of a name as an object of thought.
    Substitute pre-homo sapiens for dog in the above and the question becomes, did our pre-homo sapiens ancestors give themselves names? The question isn't did our pre-human homo sapiens ancestors have language. Why wouldn't they have those structures of language, a thing, an action, some descriptors and some directionality for motion. Take away the presumption that they had language and you have to concoct a very complicated tale of how they could get to point A to point B without some kind of language that both communicated to others in a social species and oriented an individual member species to its own base order needs in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I'm considering the idea that our pre-homo sapiens ancestors had language and that what they didn't have, what we do have in our language, is a word for a 'me', a word that allowed self-reflection. Because the capacity for self-reflection seems unique in our species, whereas a sense of a me seems present in other species, but not present so much as to have become an object of thought as any other object that has a name is as an object of thought. A behavioral marker for the existence of a named sense of self would be cave paintings, decorated practical objects and puppet shows of some kind.

    What does all this have to do with photography?

    It's such a visually self-reflecting medium. It's our antecedents visually presented. It's visualization that's gone through the grist mill that is our mind to then be re-visualized. To some extent, language is an operator on imagery. Imagery is the subject of photography, a visual expression of language. What's language? We scarcely know anything about what language is except that it has an accommodator for a me and for an us. I think that all has to do with photography because I conceptualize the pre-human or some non-human minds thusly: they have a mental picture of themselves in the world, but they can't then take a mental picture of 'that picture of themselves in the world'. They can't take a mental picture of that mental picture and name it as 'a picture of themselves pictured in the world'. Since they can't take a mental picture of a mental picture there's no picture of a picture to name in language, no object for language to operate on. It is that particular operation of language we term self-reflection, not to be confused with self-awareness. Self-awareness is the first picture, a picture of that picture is self-reflection as I see it.
    What is also interesting is that reiteration adds nothing new. A picture of a 'picture that pictures' 'themselves' in the world and then that picture of a picture of a picture repeated forever is an infinite regression adds no new information. However a picture of a picture of myself in the world is new information about 'a picture of myself in the world.' Animals don't have that picture of a picture to think about. It isn't in their language, it's uniquely in ours, uniquely unless we can find some crows giving a puppet show, or gain an understanding of crow language such that we know that they do self-reflect, have a picture of themselves that pictures themselves.

    Another way to express the difference between self-awareness and self-aware self awareness is to consider the statue The Thinker by Rodin. The Thinker is a statue and we view it. We see it frozen in time thinking. It just thinks. When we contemplate the statue itself as a work of art, we then contemplate thinking as something we do and can contemplate about. Rodin gives us The Thinker to contemplate ourself the thinker. Something happened to us, in us, as a species and I would try to argue that what happened was that language was made to accommodate a brand new, never before existent object as an object. And that language has been operating on that newly beheld object for only about 60, 70, 80 or so thousand years.
  4. Which comes back to how we might behold an image of a Francesca Woodman. As an object to be further manipulated by endless naming? Isn't it a world of objectifications in language, of naming essences as things, that she had trouble with and killed her self in part because of? And can we defend her against those who would name her as we defend ourselves against those who would name us? Or would we deny her until the cock crowed thrice.
  5. So one could consider the idea that language is an invention of the human mind, language just another tool consciously constructed for a purpose. I instead consider the idea that there is a pre-existing structure that is language and that structure is nature's invention. The all too human confusion about the origin of language comes from the fact that it takes an exercise of will to populate those structures. We taught the kid the words, hey, that's language, look what I made! Sorry. That structure is the structure of a processing engine that processes OBJECTS and ACTIONS, placeholders for OBJECTS and ACTIONS both elements of a system ready and waiting to process once objects and actions are put in their places. A parrot can process objects and actions with words, can do more than just 'parrot' the words. A parrot can process those words meaningfully, volitionally. The interesting question is how that processing occurs in a parrot without a parrot having words? What populates those placeholders before a word is given to a parrot?
    A parrot using our words is a translator. It's translating from it's language elements to ours. We give the parrot words, but the language structure was already there and in use. It's actually when a parrot plays around with words that you get a good glimpse of nature's language engine at work. My guess is that a parrot is translating from imagery into our words where images work as well as words, maybe better. On the other hand a parrot just sees itself, it doesn't see itself as a parrot. The idea of parrot, the picture of parrot, I would suggest, hasn't entered the parrot world as an object that then get's assigned to an OBJECT placeholder. If it had, you would then see art from a parrot. That's because I hold that art is a behavioral marker for the existence in a species of the capacity to conceive of self as an object. That object then gets picked up and played with by language. A parrot's play is limited by its imagination and it is in a parrot's imagination that a parrot hasn't yet come to exits. The same can be said of our pre-homo sapiens ancestors because they didn't do art and wouldn't be able to appreciate art either. A dog has a self, a dog is its self, is aware of itself. What it isn't aware of is that it is a SELF as an object that can as an object be placed among all the other objects in language's structure. Therefore a dog can't think about 'itself', it just is itself and knows that and only that.
    So I don't think we can speak to the origins of art, the origins of creativity without first coming to an understanding of language as inherited structures and what is addressable by a species' language and what is not addressable in a species' language. The structure of language exists in an animal, it's just language can't address an empty placeholder that's just there waiting for self as an object to be conceived of and then dropped into that place. We didn't invent language, but we are confined to language's structures. That's the matrix, and it is biological.
    1. Awareness
    2. Self-awareness
    3. Self aware self-awareness.
    There's nothing after that, no information is given by the infinite regression: self aware self aware self awareness. It's meaningless to stack awareness mirrors to infinity, nothing useful comes of it.
    That says something useful about the nature of consciousness. There is an ordering and there are limits. We as intact humans have each attained number 3. If you can read this you're intact.
    A person I know had a dream. In the dream he arrived at his house. It had been destroyed, there was nothing but a ruin left. That was the dream. In a few weeks that person had a break with reality, was out of his mind, without reason as we would say. His inner mental state, his abode, was hardly recognizable, so damaged. Really sad when someone goes off their meds. Anyway, the dream turned out to be correct. The house, his mental state, did collapse as the dream suggested that it might. Knowing someone was going off their meds: we could predict the result. Yet so too did the dream make a prediction.
    What in the dreamer knew of that impending psychological collapse? Is nature intelligent enough to know? My main point though is that a dream is imagery. And it isn't imaginary. As imagery a dream contains a whole lot of information. In a nutshell, dream language is imagery and imagery is the language of objective psyche. Objective psyche is a phenomenon. So is language as an engine, an objective, a phenomenon. About language and objective psyche we know barely anything.
  6. A double-wow, Charles! It will take me a huge chunk of time to digest everything you've written and to draft a set of comments that will do justice to it . . . and to you.
  7. Thank you for taking the time and for your interest and support. I look forward to your comments.
  8. Another way to approach 1. awareness; 2. self-awareness; and 3. self aware self-awareness is to re-term 1. as awareness that isn't aware it is aware. Truly, these terms are in search of better terms.
    So as to 1., to flush out how it is that awareness can be unaware of itself, I suggest an example from our shared experience of driving. I assume the following experience is generally shared.
    I'm driving along and paying attention to the road, my destination, my progress and the twists and turns that are markers of my progress. I find that it's boring, my mind wanders, I become absorbed in thought and notice that I'm at my destination. I note that I have no recollection of all the directional decisions that I indeed made to arrive at my destination, yet at the same time I'm aware that it was an awareness that guided that process without my being aware of it much, and at times, not at all aware of it. That's a sort of subject-less awareness, though without a subject, still operating as an awareness unaware of itself.
    2. self-awareness would be a rudimentary self-awareness, a sense of self merely. I consider such to be the type of 'self' that can't examine, question, or contemplate itself. Now the term self-aware to us implies as fundamental a kind of self-awareness that is substantive enough to conduct a self-examination. But bears, cats, dogs, etc. don't seem to self-examine. Yet they do seem self-aware. I explain that comparative deficit by asserting that a cat hasn't become to itself just another object in its vocabulary of 'nouns'. But just because they can't examine themselves doesn't mean they aren't what we would call rudimentarily aware that they exist. They are aware enough to form intent, they just don't know by self-examination that forming intent is what they do. They just form intent, but they form intent just like they 'just eat', 'just sleep', etc.

    Note that I don't regard words as necessary for a language engine to operate, instead think words became the stand-ins for what had been a collection of metal images of some kind, those images serving to fill a language structure's placeholders for nouns, verbs, and simple descriptors. It may be that words over time substituted for more primordial images, the original occupants of the language engine's placeholders for nouns, verbs, descriptors. You can picture a thing in your private mental space and act with that image as if it were a noun; but for our ancestor species some kind of vocalization seems necessary in order to more efficiently communicate the content of that visual mental space, the object of its attention, to other species members. Hence, much of the etymology of words ends in a visual and in a world of visuals that operate as nouns and verbs, body language can also efficiently convey information between species members, much of it intuitively, again in pictures fundamentally. It looks like that process would have started about 100,000 years ago since that's about the time frame during which our throat and mouth physiology changed from more ape like to more human like.

    To continue, I consider that its useful to posit a distinction between self-awareness and self aware self awareness and to note as significant that without an object for an inherited language engine to process, that object doesn't exist as an object of inquiry the way other 'named' objects do. An unnnamed or un-pictured object can't be processed by the language engine. I think that to be a fairly simple explanation for why dogs, for example, don't feel guilt. It's that there's no noun in dog language that would allow them to self-examine, no concept of self to name and then pass on to the language engine for further processing. A dog doesn't feel guilt because there isn't a picture for it of a 'there' there to feel guilty about. You can make a dog look like it feels guilty. But the feeling of guilt is known to not be present in a dog. I propose that a dog can't feel guilt because a dog doesn't have the elements within its dog language that would allow it to reproach itself. It doesn't have a concept of itself to assign a 'noun' to for the purpose of beating itself up. That literally can't compute for a dog and that's a description also of the mental state I propose that we would also find more or less in our pre-homo sapiens acestry at some point in time, that point, not known.

    I also think that the distinction I make and its interconnection with an inherited language struture also present in other species ties us back to, roots us firmly in the natural world, not just in body, but also in so called 'mind'. In effect, that distinction made in the context of the natural operation of an inherited language engine puts sense of self and self awareness of self firmly in biology as opposed to the metaphysical. Cave paintings, in the transition from 'visuals' as nouns and verbs accompanied by grunts, groans and pointing to assigning sounds to objects may help explain cave painting as also a form of word kindergarten for a species newly aware of itself as such and equipped with a better vocalization structure than had it's predecessor species. With self-representation available to language, the language engine took off in the kind of creative play we see when a parrot sets about the task of translating its visual language operators into our words.
  9. Sure, and I'm not familiar with Advaita teaching. I do get what you mean when you say that there can be no I that exists separate from itself in order for it to be. I think it is difficult to define awareness, self-awareness, consciousness. Each will always be more than their definitions, and definitions can only point to shared experiences of what we think those terms mean.
    I do think that a science of language and a science of the mind relate to the practice of creativity, art, photography, etc.. On this forum years ago I wondered why it was that participants couldn't just look in a dictionary for a definition of the term 'art' and then discuss the subject using that definition. Naturally I was incorrect at that time to think that art had been or could even ever be defined. There were many interesting discussions here on that and other topics over the years. It occurred to me recently that our words and art may both come from something we call language and that we don't know what language is. Some suspect language is inherited structure in the mind or brain. Some think otherwise. I favor the former view.
  10. I did a search for the word "self" in this thread and it appears 108 times. Here's where we may have to look for the difficulty. Though it is dense, I will recommend a fascinating book that really helped deepen my understanding of the problem of identity and self, called Reasons and Persons, by Derek Parfit. Though it's long, it's very well written and easy to understand if you go at a pretty slow pace. It incorporates a lot of Philosophy of Mind and Philosophy of Ethics to suggest that the "self" and personal identity don't matter nearly as much as we think they do, that what matters is continuity of experience. With thought experiment after thought experiment, he questions the whole notion of self and whether one's identity is really what matters. My own feeling is that photography has as much to do with dialogue as with monologue, and not just self-dialogue or self-awareness. The very nature of printing one's photos (or displaying them on the screen) is an act of bringing something into the world, not turning inward.
    "My life seemed like a glass tunnel, through which I was moving faster every year, and at the end of which there was darkness... [However] When I changed my view, the walls of my glass tunnel disappeared. I now live in the open air. There is still a difference between my life and the lives of other people. But the difference is less. Other people are closer. I am less concerned about the rest of my own life, and more concerned about the lives of others." —Parfit​
  11. From Buddhist teachings:
    "Just as when we say 'this same fire has been seen consuming that thing has reached this object,' the fire is not the same, but overlooking this difference we indirectly call fire the continuity of its moments."
    A sentient being does exist, you think, O Mara?
    You are misled by a false conception.
    This bundle of elements is void of Self,
    In it there is no sentient being.
    Just a set of wooden parts,
    Receives the name of carriage,
    So de we give to elements,
    The name of fancied being.​
  12. Fred I'm behind you one post.
    Fred - "My own feeling is that photography has as much to do with dialogue as with monologue, and not just self-dialogue or self-awareness."
    True. And I notice that characterization also characterizes language. Language also has as much to do with dialogue as with self-dialogue; by substitution, art has as much to do with dialogue as with self-dialog; and photography has as much to do with dialogue as with self-dialogue. Those two aspects of art are also two aspects of language.

    My mentioning of that similarity between art/language doesn't intend to analogize art to language, nor is it intended to reduce art to language. I just wonder how much can come of equating art to language. We already know of expressions like 'the language of art', etc. We know of and express that equivalence informally, or commonly. I don't know if that equivalence goes anywhere. But I can't know if it goes anywhere without playing around with the idea.

    Literature is comprised of words, a product of language. Photography is comprised of images, a product of language. I'm regarding language as an engine that processes words, may also processes images. The result, the poem or photograph, is in part self-dialog and in part dialog. Verbal expression and visual expression are expressions. Language creates expresses by a process, is an engine if you will, with expressions. Two of those expressions are self-dialog and dialog. So far I think I've only arrived at tautology; except in so doing I'm trying to establish that language is a process in the mind that isn't very well understood. We can say that the processor is the brain, but what part of the brain? So far I don't think I've arrived anywhere other than to have made an observation.

    We don't particularly notice language, we just use it. Is it fair to say that language has a form and a content? The content is available to us, we readily use that content. How much is it that we form thoughts and how much is it that thoughts come to us, are formed in us? When we form thoughts it takes effort. When thoughts come to us there doesn't seem to be any of our own effort involved. What's thinking then? It just seems puzzling to me that we don't really know. So in a lecture Chomsky notes that in his view language is an inherent structure. Its operations we can observe as products of language without much awareness of the mental processes involved in making those products. As an inherent structure, language is inherited. That structure is populated as we, the organism, matures. Chomsky gives a child's abilility to learn a new noun in one trial as suggesting that there's a language engine there, a structre, in the mind or brain that is ready and waiting for that word. There are other things that suggest language as inherited structure. If I remember correctly he mentions that here: and here is a transcript:

    So I accept for discussions sake that language is an engine with expressions. Those expressions can be verbal, visual, odors perhaps. Speculatively I say that as an engine, language is probably pretty flexible as to the sensory type that language's object and action placeholders accept and process. As inherited structure, language is a function within an organism and I think that a structural view of language says as much. Also, some humans report to 'think' in images, etc. Consider that we inherit the faculty for language. What's inhereited then is an engine with placeholders for objects and actions at a minimum. When in our lineage of ancestor organisms did the language faculty evolve?

    Informally speaking, we humans express ideas with language, and other things. So I ask, are ideas the principal product of a language structure in an organism? Assuming so, what does an organism do with an 'idea'? Fundamentally, with an idea, an organism acts. Thoughts predict action. So far it starts to look like an idea is a product of the faculty for language. Language is an idea producer, and an idea in fundamental form is a recipie for an action to be taken by an organism. That isn't to say that all an organism's actions, or any of an organism's actions, require an idea in order to occur. Neither do we require an idea as involved in the formation of a chemical bond, we don't see a molecule as having subjectivity.

    In a simple organism, object and action are food and eat, respectively. We may discard the notion of 'willing' action by a simple organism and make useful predictions. A simple organism's actions can be predicted without having to allow for 'noise' introduced by a mindful subject present in the organism. We don't need to allow for a mindful subject when predicting a physical reflex action. An act predicated upon the existence of an idea isn't an immediate act in the way a physical reflex action is. With a physical reflex there is no procrastination, no unexplained interval of time between a stimulus and a response. An idea isn't invovled in a physical reflex action. Acting on an idea takes more time than a reflex action. That additional time would involve the operation of the theorized language faculty, an idea engine, a generator of ideas. We think of ideas as comprised of words. Fundamentally, ideas may not need to be words first. Words may get translated by the language engine into images, get processed, processed images returned which get associated to words semi-consciously. At that point we receive an idea in words. I rarely get an idea in words. Most ideas that I get are in the form of an impression that isn't really a visual, but dimly is a foggy visual that then can be translated into words by 'me'.

    Hence the parrot that translates it's images into our words, the parrot able to think on its own without having a word language to use in its thinking. Clearly a parrot gets ideas and acts on ideas. But for a parrot's lack of words, and for lack of the concept of parrot in its own parrot language, a parrot can not come up with a declaration like, paraphrased: Have I not from your eyes that gentleness, does my lack of words that gentleness from you conceal?
    So I think it is pretty simple to go on to say that language delivers ideas to a subject who then acts. The subject is then a director, has willfulness, awareness of the idea and of the potential for action. A time interval is introduced by the additional processing time it takes to create, deliver, consider and then act or not act on the idea. The question then is, what is the director in my dog? He is an aware actor. He just doesn't have a 'word' for himself for the language processor to operate on. My dog doesn't have the 'word' because he doesn't have the concept, or picture of himself as an objective. I think we need a term for that state of consciousness, acting awareness that lacks only an awareness of itself as "an actor'. As an 'actor' a dog can't of itself conceive. If it could, the language engine is there to accommodate it as a noun. But without that noun, my dog as his own "subject to contemplation" doesn't exist as an object in language and the language engine can't then operate on it.
    I think that is all useful because with that concept of 'dog mind as unable to contemplate itself', is there nevertheless present in a dog a faculty that can contemplate the dog and communicate to him?
    My answer is yes there is a faculty within a dog's mind that can contemplate the dog and communicate to the dog mind. The proof is that dogs dream. When we dream images are presented to in a scene that includes us visually, and in that dream the dreamer brings along it's awareness intact. Since my dog dreams and has awareness, my dog's biology creates in his dreams a mental image of 'him the dog' and then sets 'him the dog' into a dreamscape in which the dog with his awareness can then play it all out as an actor. Since dreams contain meaning in their imagery, so to would the imagery a dog confronts in its dream contain meaning. In his dreams my dog is either in pursuit, or pursing. My dog's vocalizations while dreaming clue me into his progress in pursuit of in running away from something. Running after or away from something. But note, the dream can objectify the dog and set him on a dream stage. In that sense, the dream may be conscious of the dog as 'dog', a character, while in his waking state a dog isn't able to operate on itself as an object the way a dream can present to a dog's dream view a dog as an object, an actor, on a dream stage. Maybe the dreamscape lacks a visual representation of the dog. I rather think that is the case. For humans, we are visible in the dream. For a dog there is no visual of himself in the dream and he takes the dream as if it were real and reacts. I believe that in the dream there are lessons there for the dog. Our dreams then would in that view go once step further and include in the dreamscape a visual of the actor, the actor aware that it is aware and that awareness then represented in the dream.
    Paraphrasing again, Have I not from your eyes that gentleness, does my lack of visual representation in my own dreams that gentleness from you conceal?
  13. Those Buddhist teachings sound nominalist, no essences, just things and collections of things, no essence of things. No self.
  14. So instead of removing self from the problem of consciousness, I'm leaving it right there. We can't remove our self from our dreamscapes, why try then when awake? Self for us is an intractable.
    So from a natural history perspective, here's an idea I'm now considering. Let's say that I am right to propose that a dog dream doesn't include in its dreamscape a visual representation of 'the dog', of the dog that's having the dream. Let's say that a dog reacts to a dream scape as the dream plays in its head, but that dreamscape doesn't include a visual representation of himself the dog. Our dreams include us as an actor right there in the dreamscape. We can see ourselves visually represented in the dream, as an actor right there in the dream; and we can respond as an observer of a dream that includes us visually in the situations into which we, that actor in the dream, are placed by the dream engine. For a dog, a dream could well be a a dream of a visual situation to which the dog responds while dreaming while at the same time that dreamscape doesn't have a view of 'the dog' visually represented in a dream. Consequently the dog just reacts to the elements in the dreamscape, doesn't respond to how it is to be a dog in a dream; let's say. We can respond to how it is to be a human in a dream because we are pictured in our dreams. Since a dog isn't aware of itself as aware of itself, there's nothing for the dream engine to picture. Just like in a dog's internal language there isn't anything there called dog.
    Cognitive science may progress to the point where our dream images can be captured and played on a video screen. What may be waiting for us as a surprise in the future is that when we then image a dog's dream, we may well find that the dog isn't pictured in the dream. At that point the subject of consciousness, awareness, self-awareness, self aware self-awareness may become an object that "serious" science can address. And at that point we may have also other investigational tools that a "serious" science prefers to use in it's investigations.
    In effect, if nature from all the operations of an objective psyche 'imagined' itself into existence, then our creativity is borrowing from Imagination's food bank, from creative imagination that is nature imagining itself into existence because that is just the nature of life. In our dreamscapes 70,80, 100 thousand years ago there appeared in human dreams the dreamer herself. Not there in a dog dream the dog, not in our species' ancestors either at least up until some point.
  15. Those Buddhist teachings sound nominalist, no essences, just things and collections of things, no essence of things. No self.​
    I'm already a skeptic about essences. For me the no self idea is more like no packaging.
    Photography can be a fracturing of the "flow" of time, in a similar way that our experiences are the elements we attribute to our selves.
    I often think of photographing as the framing of a littler picture within a bigger one. The framed image, perhaps the more elemental, can imply the bigger picture or context. Or, the framed image (what the camera frames to become the photo) can suggest something very different from the bigger picture. Or it can do both, imply and deny the original context.
    This could be like the "self/elemental experience" relationship in that the bigger picture from which the smaller picture is framed may, like the self, also not have limits and be a "fanciful being." We frame part of the street and leave out a lot of the periphery. How far does that periphery extend? To the end of the street? To the end of our entire visual field? Doesn't the bigger picture include knowledge that we have that may not be evident inside the frame and may not even be visual?
    I think it's much fun switching back and forth between little and big picture, noticing how the little picture, the one I see through the lens, in some cases, can become a big picture and create a context all its own.
    In a sense, a photo is an acknowledgment of this experience right here and now as a link in a never-ending chain.
  16. Fred "In a sense, a photo is an acknowledgment of this experience right here and now as a link in a never-ending chain."
    Certainly, and to me that sounds like playfulness.
    Phil "Perception without conceptualization is a way of 'pure seeing' without the barrier of thought and language."
    Got it. The thing is, there is still a seeing subject, a self then that is seeing without interference from thought and perhaps without interference from language. (Perhaps because what we see is delivered by a processor, and we don't know if the language engine is part of that mechanism, how much language visuals are part of our seeing. Our seeing is interpreted seeing, and we don't know the extent to which a creative language element contributes to our seeing.) In any case, such would still be an experience of a subject. What happens when the subject then wants to examine that experience? Here comes language again, and words. I think language is part of our biology, can be suppressed, but you're going to have to order lunch from somewhere and you're right back in it at that point. Which may be me missing your point entirely.
    So one way I try and get a sense of self without thought or language is this sort of exercise, and I don't exercise often. But it would go like this. Hello. Who are you? I'm a woodworker. No, not what you do, who are you? Well I'm Chuck. That's your name. Who is Chuck? Well I'm a guy. Right, you're a guy, but who are you? Who is it that perceives you as a guy? At some point in that questioning we're kind of stuck in a limbo that contains just the puzzled person with thought failing to come up with an answer and not sure what the question was. No language, no thought, just a blank sense of a self being asked a question. What is that blank sense of self that knows a question has been asked and has been blanked of everything except a sense of a self?
    That's sort of how it goes. If it is the case that a more developed meditative practice can produce that sort of mental state and prolong it then that's an accomplishment I haven't achieved. But what I'm saying is that the self, the subject, is still there, the light is on, and someone is home. It may be that the someone is more essentially there in that home. But they are still there. And I'm also recognizing that that way of seeing, which I imagine would take some effort to develop, is possible to share with photographs and that's a good thing. So if I understand you correctly I appreciate your having share it.
  17. It's not a self without thought. It's a thought without self.
  18. A thought without self? That may be the case with a single celled organism. It may be the case with a spider, where a thought, it's web, is expressed through the organism without an organism having a sense of self or needing a sense of self to produce evidence of a thought that is the web. In fact, a computer is thought without a self. It's thought is a program, a theory, which a computer runs without being aware of itself running a program. We load a computer and some day we may discover in epigenetics that thoughts as a mental program are to some extent just a replication of inherited instructions. The matrix is our biology, our language engine is arguably a biological structure, our self-awareness riding on all those mechanisms without itself necessarily being a mechanism.
    So I'm not sure what you're saying?
  19. "But there's no self that is seeing."
    That's where it get's difficult for me. There's no self to recognize the seeing? That is true of a camera lens, even of the camera's image capture technology. But for humans, No self there, just seeing, nothing to sense that it's seeing. The tree can fall in the forest and make no sound when no one is there. If someone is there to see it, someone, a self, is there sensing what is seen. If the self could see without being there, how could it remember it was there to see pure seeing? That's where it gets difficult for me.
  20. OK Phil, got it.
    Is an example of that similar to say a Michael Jordan who reports being 'in the zone'? I get that even if Jordan isn't a perfect example.
  21. Thanks for that example.
    And I agree of course that there are many internal mental states (for my lack of a better term) that a self can experience, more than I have experienced.
  22. The tree can fall in the forest and make no sound when no one is there. If someone is there to see it, someone, a self, is there sensing what is seen.​
    Interestingly enough, we often don't trust the selves who claim to have heard the tree fall. But if we have a picture of it, that seems often to provide the proof we need!
  23. Hume using the theory of impressions and finding that theory can't account for personal identity. Impressionistic theory the idea that we don't have direct access to the external world, we only have access to our mental representations of it.
    Hume asks from what impression could the idea be derived that we feel the existence of the self and its continuance of existence. From what set of impressions does the idea derive that we feel the existence of the self and its continuance of existence, Hume asks. So if the idea of continuing self derives from a set of impressions, then the set of impressions must be continuing in order for an idea of a continuing self to be supported. The idea of self can't be supported by a set of continuing impressions because, Hume observes, there aren't any continuing sets of impressions to support the idea of a continuing self.
    And Hume rightly observes there aren't continuing sets of impressions. Yet our sense of self is a sense of a continuing identity. How to account for that? We don't have direct access to the external world, have only indirect access through our mental representations of it. However we do have direct access to our sense of self, that collector of mental representations called 'me'. I can poll myself periodically to see if I am still me regardless of my collection of mental impressions of the external world. I am still me among that collection. I go to sleep where I can't ask myself that question. I wake up and my collection of mental impressions tells me I'm still in the world of mental impressions of the external world thank goodness. I ask myself if it is still me and I answer that it is still me. My sense of personal identity stays intact.
    So what I'm getting at is that in order to account for our sense of continuance, it may be necessary to accept consciousness as a fundamental.
    As to essence. I'm not sure that essence is a meaningful concept. Let's say I ask my self the question "Who am I?" Personally I answer that question with another "Who's asking?" And so it goes. Maybe we can someday take an image of that internal/infernal dialog.
  24. I tried to move things in that direction earlier, but to no avail. One of the reasons I'm saying little.
  25. Music, and now photography, became my answer (or my outlet) to a lot of these philosophical questions, questions that became so many words. It allowed me to replace theory with practice and to fill in gaps that couldn't be filled in discursively.
  26. It also allowed me out of myself and to join in a way I hadn't before with others, subjects and viewers and artists here and now and those gone by.
  27. Well since photography is an activity of a 'personal identity' then to talk about photography and art we need to at least agree there is such a thing as a person, a self which engages in photography. Assuming we agree self exists, we next can try to establish that a photograph is an expression of a self, that is, that a photograph is language. Language functions as dialog with self and as communication to others. By substitution, a photograph is something we 'say' to our self; and when shared, becomes something we 'say' to others. But what does a photography 'say'? Often I can't figure that out.
    Can't 'figure that out' literally means: can't construct from a photographic expression a mental modeling, an internal re-con-figuration that would lay before me in clear view the meanings present in a photograph and how those meanings relate to one another. Some photographs are easy to figure out, to refigure. Others aren't. Mental modeling with images seems to be elemental to thinking, in part conscious, in part pre-conscious. So with a photograph, something elemental, a visual, is presented. Our language engine confronts a photograph as it would any other visual that by our conscious focus becomes an object for processing by our language engine. I add that it sure seems that the language engine requires visual inputs at its core. We send the language processor words, that is, we string together words that at base are pictures and then send those picture-words off for processing. Unobserved by us, the processor translates those words into their primitive visual parts, visuals the core elements used for raw processing.

    My use of the word 'figure' is to intentionally call attention to the likelihood that our brains are wired to think in visuals and do visual processing (thinking) pre-consciously. Word production seems to be a higher order brain function where words eventually get substituted for [translated from] the pictures that the brain uses at its core to compute it's result, an idea, an answer. Another example is that numbers are figures. Numbers are useful because the language engine can accept figures as imputs and use those visuals to produce results. Our own logic can tell us that an answer is valid even though we can't make sense of that answer as a valid answer. We can't ourselves picture the result. An example would be action at a distance, e.g., attraction of one celestial body to another or the tides. Gravidty doesn't make sense to a brain that can't 'picture' the cause of the effect, can't see the connection between two bodies that could account for the motion of those bodies. (I had thought curved space provided that connection, again, a visual we can understand.) No accounting for, no modeling available for a complete photon. A photon can't be pictured as simultaneously both a particle and a wave. A particle can be pictured, a wave can be pictured. Those two pictures together can't make sense to a brain that developed to visually solve it's problems in the now, the world of lived experience, and to provide answers that relate concretely to 'the now'.

    So I think that when we ask the question "Does my dog think?" we have the answer as yes if we understand that our own thinking at base level isn't performed by the brain with words. The brain deconstructs a word into a word's picture parts and then raw thought commences pre-consciously. The raw answer is a visual and that visual get's pre-consciously, or even semi-consciously, translated back into words. I may seem slow from my dog's point of view. His ideas may be purely visual, he having no need for a word before forming an action. Note that some visual thinkers report being consciously aware of visuals as operands. Visuals always are the fundamental operands, what, for sighted animals? Can a dog brain think with smells as a core input? Or sound? In our common sense world we don't need to be aware of the core processing of what for us is a visual language engine.

    Once we understand images as core operands in what is mostly an unconscious process, we then gain a new appreciation for a photograph and for images generally. Since we aren't ordinarily aware that images are prerequistes for thought, becoming aware of just how unconscous we are of our own thought mechanisms can give us pause to consider the unconsious as an objective field internal to us and in which we are contained biologically.

    Once we understand images as core oprands in thought, understand that thought is processed unconsciously, then we have to ask more seriously the question "What is a dream?" A dream is imagery ordered, imagery the core expression of the language engine, a dream is language, communicates meaning, and at base is the brain thinking about 'you' as an operand. A dream is language and language is both self-reflecting and communicative. A dream as language may be a brain thinking about itself and thinking about how you fit in to its picture of its self. With a dream we observe thinking in raw form, we see nature thinking about us.

    So I think that part of the appeal of photography is that it is imagery that is a fundamental as a visual. Visual the core operand of the language engine. As a literal we understand it. But as a literal a photograph isn't an accidental that can be dismissed as without meaning. That's where further processing is by our own focus applied and it can be pretty hard for that visual processor to come up with anything.
    So I think that a lot of problems, ontological, epistemological, practical, our relationship to nature, the mind body 'problem' - a lot of problems aren't really problems when we become aware of photography as imagery where imagery is the core input for thought in us and most probably even in very simple organisms. We aren't intelligent as much as it is nature that is. And I think that knowing we aren't alone here as an intelligent and thinking reunites us with both ourselves and with nature.
  28. The framework I use for approaching photography is not the self, and not myself. For me, whether making or viewing, it's a collaboration and one that's not only with my subject. Photos are not self-expressive, IMO. They are expressive. That expressiveness includes cultural expression, hisotorical expression, art historical expression, political expression. I don't think of the photos in my gallery as mine and when I'm viewing photos I don't think of them as mine either. I don't feel at liberty to see them any old way I want.
    Whatever a photo says, it's the voice of a chorus, and the members are not all alive and not all individuals.
  29. I hear ya.
  30. that would lay before me in clear view the meanings present in a photograph and how those meanings relate to one another.​
    Meaning may be the problem. People love meaning. And they love interpretation (which is really a fancy kind of meaning, maybe a bit more personal, and I often read "personal" as "self centered"). Meaning and interpretation help people think they have taken hold of the photo. It provides a kind of ownership, IMO. I'm moving more to a constructivist* attitude about photography lately. A way in for me, rather than through meaning, is actually through the material and the make-up. What has the artist done rather than what does the artist mean. And just how has it been done.

    *I mean constructivist not only in the artistic "school" we think of but with a lower-case "c" here, really considering how the making took place, as an activity or an action. And why this way instead of that. Not so much what it means as what does it show me and in what ways can I interact with it? How does the work fit in or not fit in or both? How is the medium itself evident and reflected on? How do the elements fit into a whole? What are the internal relationships, right there inside the frame?
    I think in some sense it's the difference between having the photo come to me, which seems more possessive to me, and my moving toward the photo, which may demand more action from me as opposed to understanding.
  31. What's the artist done, that's interesting. And a product of its times, as are we, along with other influences.
    Phil had said something about ephemeral. In contrast to those fallen trees is continuity in our sense of self. Or continuity in that there will be more trees and I suppose a fallen tree also conveys renewal. From art I want to get some feeling about that sense of continuity. Another thing I like in a piece of art is when it gives me a view I hadn't conceived of before. Other times I feel like getting something else out of it.
    It was hot this week, stuck inside. Those 10,000 or so words is what my mind does with new information. it's a pain. But out of that kind of mess I do get something usable, if little.
  32. Great! I totally get that! And that's what I want to do too! At times. But there are other things too I want to do. (Like take a picture of my neighbor's yard that gives information about him that isn't a 'universal'.) And other things to photograph. So I do get value from images that people create that have many different intents. I suppose we don't need a reason to like something. It's just there is so much of it out there.
  33. Like take a picture of my neighbor's yard that gives information about him that isn't a 'universal'.​
    I get that. Specific and local pictures are important. But those type of pics and universality are not mutually exclusive. And your intent is only part of the story. I will see that picture of your neighbor and the picture may give me enough info to tell me something important about your neighbor, about you and your neighbor, about your neighbor and his yard or his dogs or his fence, etc. And I may get that. But, since I also have neighbors and my friends have neighbors and many people without close neighbors have fences or have seen cut down trees, or yards that are a mess, your photo will be bigger than just being about your neighbor, in a lot of ways. It can very easily become a picture about "neighbors" even though it's also a picture about your neighbor.

    It seems to me that's going to happen when we take 1/60 or 1/100 of a second and still it. The picture becomes, in a sense, larger than life, which for that picture only lasted 1/100 of a second. Now it's stilled and it's shown and so it takes on a kind of significance we might easily have missed in the original 1/100 second or that it might not even have originally had.
  34. Fred "And your intent is only part of the story." Yep, I remember from that thread where I posted my neighbor picture.
    One last biological musing:
    My body can't be two places at once. An electron can be two places at once, which is spooky.
    Spooky events can occur in consciousness. Déjà vu is spooky, feeling 'this has happened to me before.' Some report having been out of body, e.g., simultaneously being in a chair talking to their mother and in a corner of the same room watching that scene.
    Is self-awareness a biological quantum effect?
  35. Thanks Phil, that's kind of you to say.
  36. Self aware the superiority of our species over others. But then you could equally argue that other lesser aware species have some level of self, we eat them and abuse them. Maybe in time they might achieve a equal level of awareness just like our monkey ancestors. But many would argue we have been touched by God which makes us special.
    The latest research indicates we are governed by mathematical equations much like a computer game. A dragon can fly and breath fire the dude with the big sword it all about the binary numbers, just like in the computer game..... just the same as the world we consider as real?
    In our search for the mysterious God entity we believe in current knowledge and faith from books written centuries ago. Of course current knowledge is current knowledge much the same as we believed the earth is flat. Dark matter, inter dimensional theory, time as a fixed equation, the speed of light are all theories rapidly unfolding as just theories without any real substance. And other theories are presenting themselves and some will be proved others just lost in the backyard.
    The reality is we really understand very little about anything....A believe in God is a matter of faith and it will always be. For those who proclaim they have received words from God....are just those who like to proclaim.
    We understand very little if anything but we try hard to....perhaps that is our never-ending purpose.
    One thing for sure a photograph is a frozen moment which makes it special....we have frozen time itself.
  37. An interesting thought the Hindu religion believes God is the zero.
  38. " it all about the binary numbers, just like in the computer game..... just the same as the world we consider as real?"
    I don't think so.
  39. "I don't think so".
    Why? Please elucidate.. not that your thoughts are anymore relevant than mine. Do you think we have a higher purpose….anointed by a God being. Or subject to mathematic fundamentals beyond our current comprehension?
    " not any single moment in time that is frozen in a photograph but what's being frozen in the photograph is that by which time is measured, which is movement and / or transformation"
    But that is our measure which makes it sort of special...
  40. "The aspect of digitalisation adds a new dimension to the concept of time and memory"
    Technology improves....but revolutionary. A photo of a photo has been done from the time of dimension, really.
  41. Charles
    All life on earth is much of the sameness it has all come from the same place. Your DNA is not much different from a Banana just different sequencing...sort of weird that we really are a single organism that feeds upon itself. Just about mathematic equations... you me and your dog...hey. even your mum.
  42. Alan when I said I don't think that it is all about binary numbers etc. I suppose I meant that we don't know what the universe is made of. For example, we don't know what dark matter is. I'm more interested in what we can know. We know we are animals, for example.
  43. This link might be of interest, Charles.
  44. A pleasure to read your discussion since Phil mention Haiku above. Thanks !
  45. Let's quote Phil's Haiku remarks, merging them:

    I really like this image in your portfolio Charles. The particles of dust floating in the sunlight and the little bird on the branch is like a visual haiku.
    Similar to a haiku it's a good example of finding the universal in the small and fleeting detail. The 'universal' is often an abstract feeling and not something that's being revealed in an image but something that's being unconcealed through the image, something that was always there and known.​
    Allen then remarked:

    "One thing for sure a photograph is a frozen moment which makes it special....we have frozen time itself."​
    Phil then replied:

    "Yes, its connection with time and memory is what can make a photograph very special and almost mystical. But it's probably more correct to say that it's not any single moment in time that is frozen in a photograph but what's being frozen in the photograph is that by which time is measured, which is movement and / or transformation."​
    Allen then offered us a link to consider:

    And Phil quoted Andy Goldsworthy: "The very thing that brings the work to life is the thing that will cause its death" - Andy Goldsworthy Rivers and Tides

    Let's call my picture, this image, a visual haiku. That visual haiku, as Phil described his experience of it, contains a meaning, contains "...something that was always there and known." Let's call my image an expression of my E-Language. (E-Language is language used to communicate to others.) My picture is my communication to others. My picture is a visual expression, expresses a meaning visually. In effect, my picture is an image with embedded meaning. I embedded meaning into my image to communicate a meaning. Before I expressed that meaning in an image, that meaning was there in my head; it just wasn't communicated yet. That un-communicated meaning existed only in my I-Language, existed only in my own internal dialog. E-Language expresses what we have said in our heads that we may go on to express to others. What we say in our heads is I-Language.

    Phil's viewing of my picture was Phil receiving a message from me, a communication from me. That message came to him in the form of a picture, a visual representation containing embedded meaning. Phil experienced my picture. He thought about the picture. A suggested meaning arose from within Phil's own thoughts. Once in Phil's thoughts, Phil translated that thought from his own I-Language into E-Language. That translation consisted of the words he wrote and posted above on P/Net.

    What does it mean to say Phil experienced my picture? Keep in mind I don't really know what Phil experienced, so I am generalizing, guessing. Here's what I make of it then as a guess. Phil's experience of my picture was to think about it, to consider it. Upon consideration of my picture, he may have felt that from it an impression was made. In other words, upon considering it, his mind formed an impression of it. Let's say his mind formed that impression pre-consciously. At some point that impression became conscious. He received from the interiors of his own mind a formed impression, becoming aware that he had received that impression because he 'felt' something heralding that impression's arrival to his conscious awareness. His impression, formed after viewing my photograph, was another 'picture' with an embedded meaning. That meaning was initially concealed within the Phil's impression. The meaning concealed within the image revealed initially to Phil's consciousness as a feeling of "something that was always there and known." It was a 'felt embedded meaning that then Phil translated into his I-Language. Internally he noted it a 'universal', something universal in a small and fleeting detail. That 'something' was felt as a meaning that popped into his awareness similar to the way that from experiencing a haiku poem, a meaning concealed within the haiku just pops out as part of our experience of a haiku.

    So to Phil, I apologize if in my generalizing I have in any way created a misimpression of you. I denounce myself and all that I said, I erase it all if my generalization caused you any trouble.

    What I wanted to detail was a round trip for a communication, a round trip from my picture, to your mind, and back to my mind.

    A lot can come from a moment frozen in time, from a photograph. I accept Phil's characterization of that frozen moment as a capture of movement, movement being that by which time is measured, that movement itself a transformation. Something similar then in the quote from Goldsworthy.

    And Allen, I want to thank you for the link you provided. Among the photographs contained in that article is a photograph of a spider web. The question then becomes, is a spider web first an image in a spider's mind? Is in a spider's mind an image of a spider web that is a template frozen in time in the spider's mind? Is a spider web first an inner visual template which the spider follows when creating physically from his own motions a spider web that we can see? Does a spider web exists in the mind of a spider as a sort of I-Language that then becomes, by his movements, an E-Language, something that a spider expresses for all the world to see? And if so, it is a fact that a spider can not go on to herald itself by saying to us in a worded remonstrance (again paraphrasing the bard): "Have I not from thy eyes that gentleness, does my lack of words that gentleness from thee conceal? Does not my own language to thee my gentleness reveal?" Is nature, in our frozen images of it captured by our pictures, speaking to us in dance and pictures? Is life art?
  46. I'd take issue with the idea that a photo is a frozen moment in time. I know this is not an uncommon sentiment, but I think
    it limits possibilities. Photos are such moments and can also be more. They can be stories, they can be portraits, still
    lifes, etc. all of which are more than mere frozen moments. A photo can be a fullness and can actually defy and deny
  47. I don't particularly take to the notion of "frozen." I understand it's being used, but it doesn't necessarily work for how I see
    photos. Just a different descriptive approach.
  48. Fred raises is an objection to the characterization of a physical photograph as a single visual representation of a moment frozen in time. That characterization is at best awkward, Fred's objection I judge as a valid objection.

    Is it less awkward to characterize a photograph as a discrete physical representation of objects in motion? I'll then propose that a photograph is a physical representation of a particular moment. Consider that the term "frozen moment" is an oxymoron because a moment is understood to be a single instance drawn as a sample from our 'sense' of time's passing. As a single instant of time, a moment already is frozen.

    Is time continuous or is time discrete? We don't know. What we do know is that we can physically experience a moment. Motion can be resolved by our senses into an experience of a moment. That 'moment' is a particle of what otherwise is just continuous time. A particle is a discrete object. Is it fair to say that a 'moment' is a discrete representation of a particular instant of time? Is it fair to say that the term "frozen moment" is an oxymoron? I think so.

    An analogy helps. Light is a wave, a wave is continuous. An instant of time, a moment, is like a particle. Our brains are then able to 1), sense a continuous wave of light, and 2) adjust its instrumentation to resolve a particle from that continuous wave, a particle that is a moment of time. Metaphorically speaking, that is.

    Time is sensed as the continuous movement of bodies. Bodies in motion measure time; and we don't really know what time is fundamentally. Nor do we know what a body is fundamentally.

    So is it less awkward to characterize a photograph as a discrete physical representation of objects in motion? A photograph then becomes a physical representation of a moment. Time is directional, so time consists of an infinite series of movements that as a whole move in a forward direction. Let's express the concept of 'moment' more formally.

    Let’s say that our eyes create within us a physical representation of continuous motion. That physical representation plays before our eyes as continuous motion. Let's propose that our brains are able to take a single sample from that continuous visual sense of motion. That single sample is then a physical object capable of being stored in visual memory. In effect, a brain can take a photograph and save that picture in visual memory. As a physical discrete object stored in memory, a visual moment is a physical object subject to contemplation.

    More formally, our brains are able to take a picture of a moment that can be physically stored as a visual memory. Let's set some boundaries, a lower and an upper limit. Let's call the duration of an imagable moment X. Let's set the value of X equal to the number 1. For X = 1, then 1 is defined as the 'time interval' that our sense of sight can resolve into a single, storable discrete, interpretable visual representation whose duration is a moment. The interval (1 + n) sums to the time it takes for the brain to record an impression, an impression that is a visual representation of a moment whose duration is defined as equal to the number 1. The expression (1 + n) is the time it takes for the brain to take a picture that is a capture of a 'time interval' of length 1. Values of X that are less than the number 1 don't last long enough for the brain to meaningfully image. Values of X that are less than the number 1 are too dark to fully interpret. As to the upper boundary, let's just say for discussions sake that any value for X that is greater than the number 1 are blurry, not fully interpretable. Some degree of blur is interpretable, but let's just ignore that fact for now. Let's also ignore the fact that a 'too dark' image of an object is still an interpretable visual representation of that object.

    So I've analogized visual memory production by the brain to a photographic process. There isn't anything particularly profound in saying our brain takes pictures and stores them in visual memory. Which moments get stored in the brain and why? Beats me. When does the brain decide that there is something to image and remember among all that otherwise would be a void of darkness or just un-interpretable noise?

    Overall, without a brain's representation of a moment, all there would be is a brain experiencing darkness and noise. We think in order to make sense of that noise. To think, we need an object of thought. Yet without a particular [particulate] mental representation drawn from all that continuous noise, there literally isn't anything for the brain to contemplate except it's experience of life as one wide un-interpretable continuum between infinite darkness and infinite noise. The existence of a mental representation of a moment, it's particulate physical existence in the brain, is evidence of a brain attempting to make sense of all that darkness and noise. Without a mental picture taken of that noise, there isn't particularly anything that can be made sense of by a brain. Below the lower limit of our brain's 'impression making' is an information-less void. Above the upper limit lies an endless din of un-interpretable information. Poetically speaking, we exits in that space between endless darkness and nerve wracking noise. I'm sure there are photographs expressive of the idea of that space as our lived experience.
    So I'm not being philosophical, I'm trying to approach the topic of thinking, language, photography and art from the perspective of natural philosophy, of science. And from that perspective also trying to create some poetry. Also in play, from the perspective of a natural philosophy, is, as Phil expressed it, the question: "Are we an intelligence looking for its self or are we a self looking for an intelligence?" I think there is an answer expressible to some degree by a natural philosophy.
  49. Phil: "Maybe it's like listening to a song in a language that you don't understand but you somehow know what the song is. Something that goes beyond the signified ( what is being sung about ) and the signifier ( the language in which it is sung )."
    Right, but maybe the same idea can be expressed by saying the same of an Eggleston photograph. That contained within a particular work, or within his body of work, is something that goes beyond the signified.
  50. It doesn't have to be an Eggleston. I was acknowledging your having made a point with your reference to music, me then closing that last comment of mine by bringing the discussion back to photographs and meaning.
  51. "Fred raises is an objection to the characterization of a physical photograph as a single visual representation of a moment frozen in time. That characterization is at best awkward, Fred's objection I judge as a valid objection".
    But it is, in linear time, that is what we have to except as our current perceptions. Yes, that moment can be read in many different ways....and perhaps, as just a snapshot with no before or after; a story of the imagination. Regardless, the photograph is a frozen moment in time ...your smiling mother, the invoked memory will always be there... that special smile.
    A smile frozen in time
  52. Just a bit off topic regarding self awareness which makes us so special.

    I watched a BBC documentry where a mother elephant, who could not feed her child due to a draught, stood by him until he eventually died. She was surrounded by a pride of lions who could have easily killed her but she would not move until she did everything in her power to revive him.....she was prepared to sacrifice her life for a hope...

    Are we really so special?
  53. Phil: "But the more we try to describe this pre-language meaning the further we are away from it."
    Caption for that picture "A painting that reveals (alethe) a whole world. Heidegger mentions this particular work of Van Gogh's in "The Origin of the Work of Art"."
    A photo of Eggleston's that 'reveals' (alethe) a whole world:
    So let's say that both the Van Gogh boots and Eggleston's 'woman's hair style' each reveal a whole world. A world in a moment. The words "A world in a moment" is an interpretation of a meaning. Before I wrote those words (E-Language) those words were in my I-Language. That is to say, before I expressed those words, those words were present in my internal language. Those words were produced by my translating my sense of meaning into words, a conscious process involving I-Work. Before I translated, meaning was present. Let's say that meaning was present as an object existing in my mind. I could sense that object's presence before I could put it in words. Preceding a sense of a meaning I was 'thinking' entirely pre-consciously. In proper time order: 1) preceding my sense of a meaning being presented to me was a mental process whose operations aren't observable. 2) Emerging within me formed a sense of a meaning being present. 3) I used I-Language to translate that meaning into words. 4) I then wrote those words down, expressed them using E-Language.
    As to 1 and 2, I can postulate more. A thing, a meaning object, presented to my consciousness. I could sense it. I could sense it because it had energy. I could sense its energy. Physical objects have energy. So one corollary might be that meanings are pre-conscious 'physical mental objects' that contain energy. We sense that 'meaning object' as an energy. Let's propose that our brains have a physical mental sense previously unrecognized as a physical sense. [Why would we recognize that sense, we just use it all the time without being aware that we are using a sense organ. We can't see it, it's a mental organ not directly observable as a physical structure the ways our eyes are observable as a physical structure.] So we have a mental sense organ operating within the brain as a sense organ and that organ senses as an object the energy contained in a meaning object. We don't then have five physical senses, we have six. Do we really have a previously unidentified physical mental sense of meaning? I theorize that we do. I've 'discovered' it. Like any other fool I give a newly discovered physical structure my name, term it, Wood's Organ. (Oh sure, I know we all have such an organ, I just think it an historical tradition that allows me to give it my name.) I theorize the existence of that 'sense of meaning' and state that it is a physical sense just as are physical 'a sense of touch, taste, smell, sight, sound'. It is a physical sense because the brain is physical. [This writing is my published claim to that discovery, that claim subject to verification as 'an original idea' by an examination of the historical record of ideas.] Once I become dimly conscious that my 'sense of meaning' organ has sensed that an idea has formed in the pre-conscious, I am charged to work out a translation of that idea into I-Language, doing so with my own energy, that is, with the general, finite mental energy available to me. So I perform the translation into I-Language yet at the same time experience that an interpretable idea contains energy, that energy released post translation, replacing the mental energy that it took to translate the idea from a vague semi-consciousness. The translation took work, but I am rewarded by a return of mental energy. What I do with that energy is up to me. I can express the translated idea, the idea translated into the words of my I-Language into E-Language, the language of expression and communication. Or I can form a set of instructions in I-Language that then become a 'thought that guides action'. Move my feet or move my tongue, either way it's up to me how I use that return of energy by the 'meaning object'.
    A theorized sense of meaning, defined as a physical capacity to sense a meaning object as an elemental product of thought, allows us to explain other phenomenon. For example, when we interpret a dream correctly, we experience an "Ah Ha!" moment that is the physical release of energy contained in the thought object, the meaning.
    So Phil, I haven't addressed your observation of how descriptions move a described object further away from us. It's an interesting observation, something fundamentally interesting or puzzling about that phenomenon.
  54. Allen - 'Are we really so special?'
    I'm attempting to state that we're not within the framework of natural philosophy, within the framework of science. There are other frameworks that express the same idea, that we're not so specia,l with equal effect.
    I should add that I theorize that an idea pre-consciously is a mental visual representation, a picture that is a relation of motions and bodies with a underlying physical structure we know virtually nothing about.
  55. I also recognize that from that theory of a 'physical 'sense of meaning' organ, logic can demonstrate that consciousness is a fundamental phenomenon in an organism just as bodies and motions are a fundamental phenomenon. A sense of an organism's 'self' is a fundamental operand in primitive thought. Bodies and motions external to the organism can't be meaningfully processed except when processed in relation to the 'self' that any organism represents. Consequently, at least a proto-consciousness is present in organisms that are motile, capable of directing their own actions. Without a proto-consciousness, an organism couldn't distinguish between its motions and the motions of other bodes and motions.
  56. I also recognize that the origins of language as an evolved set of physical mental faculties is closely related to the evolution of cognitive functions. Operation of thought requires operands. A fundamental operand is a name for a body, that is, a thing, a place. What distinguishes our thought, our language from that of our pre-human ancestors is that we can name a person as a body (as in bodies and motions). That's because we evolved to be self-aware. More importantly, we can name ourselves as an object of thought. We can objectify our self. We can do so because we are self-aware, self-awareness a trait of our species. The evolution of our supposedly unique language involves 1) the propagation both of physical structures within our kind, and 2) a propagation of a singular idea among our species. That idea is that our awareness of self can be given a name. Once named, we can then think about our self as an object. The creative period of human activity beginning with the appearance of art objects marks the period of time within which our species propagated amongst its members the idea of a self that could be named.
  57. Also that a physical mental structure that evolved as a physical container of 'object' operands is a physical structure that as a physical structure is an inheritable structure, the idea of object given a physical placeholder, the idea of object, a body, corpus as in bodies and motion, an inherited form, and inherited idea physically. Motions, verbs, also a discrete set of relations between a body and a motion, a stored procedure with associations. Hence cognition originally, prototypically was thought in direct action in relation to a proto-sense of an organism being a body distinct from other bodies and the motions of other bodies. So motions, as information about the environment of an organism, as a discrete set of stored procedures, that set built to be housed in a container: that verb container is also a physical structure, inheritable, containing specific information about the external environment in which an organism lived. Consequently, DNA also encodes information about an organism's environment, not just about itself. The field of epigenetics is beginning to explore that topic.
  58. "physical mental faculties is closely related to the evolution of cognitive functions"
    All I know is that when my dog is sitting on the sofa and hears the front door opening.....he soon shifts his arse. He does not need Latin or to understand a Verb to work this out. A natural cognitive function for him:)
  59. It is, just like when my dog sits by his bowl. His act of sitting expresses a meaning, a thought.
    Toto to?
    Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
    Glinda: You don't need to be helped any longer. You've always had the power to go back to Kansas.
    Dorothy: I have?
    Scarecrow: Then why didn't you tell her before?
    Glinda: She wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
    Scarecrow: What have you learned, Dorothy?
    Dorothy: Well, I—I think that it, that it wasn't enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em — and it's that — if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?
    Glinda: That's all it is!
    Scarecrow: But that's so easy! I should've thought of it for you -
    Tin Man: I should have felt it in my heart -
    Glinda: No, she had to find it out for herself. Now those magic slippers will take you home in two seconds!
    Dorothy: Oh! Toto too?
    Glinda: Toto too.
    Dorothy: Now?
    Glinda: Whenever you wish.
    Glinda: Then close your eyes and tap your heels together three times. And think to yourself, 'There's no place like home'.
    That's a poetic expression of a new paradigm for nature revered. It's mantra "Toto too."
    Or nature's remonstrance to humans: "Have I not from thy eyes that gentleness, does my lack of words that gentleness from thee conceal? Does not my own language to thee my gentleness reveal?"
  60. Jeez, just think. I feed him, keep him warm, take him out for regular excise, clean his *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#*...lots of affection.
    Hey, he has never done a days work in his life just some tail wagging....did someone say something about evolutionary functions?
  61. The bottom line life adapts to survive and will evolve to survive. Why are we so naïve to think that another species, given a evolutionary need, could/would not evolve to have the same cognitive functions as our species...indeed we were only one of a number of little monkeys which had cognitive functions...we were the lucky ones,yes, lucky.
    Back to the future Professor Hawkins(not alone) is very concerned that artificial intelligence will replace humanity in evolutionary terms. Perhaps we will then become the wagging tail pet to please our masters...the evolutionary programmed prerogative to survive.
  62. So if I analogize that to a camera. A camera is a meaning extraction device. It is a meaning receiver. And a camera is a meaning sender. It sends its meanings in the form of a photograph. A photograph is a discrete object. As a discrete object, a photograph is defined by the negative space around it.

    Further, take two photographs. Put them on a black cloth, placing them in sequence with the one taken first on the left and the one taken second on the right. The black space surrounding each of the photographs identifies them each as a discrete object. The black space between the photographs doesn't contain information, is black space. That black space between the two photographs is an information-less void existing between two pictured moments in time. Those two moments are visually represented by two separate photographs. Looking from left to right, we see an earlier moment followed by a later moment. The black space between the two photographs is an information gap. There isn't a third photograph to place between the two. No photograph was taken of that moment.

    Let's say the first photograph on the black cloth is of an expressionless face. Looking immediately to the right of the first photograph we see the underlying black cloth, it followed by another photograph of the same face. In the second photograph the face was smiling. Our mind wants a meaning. In one moment a face was expressionless. In the next photograph the face was smiling. We account for the black space between them by producing meanings. First meaning: something caused a face to smile. Second meaning: the cause of the smile is unknown. The cause isn't in the second photograph and there is black space between the two photographs. We make an inference to plug the gap. But we don't have enough information to fully describe the cause. We can't immediately picture the cause.

    So the first picture is of an object, an expressionless face. That face is the subject of the photograph. Let's call the subject of the photograph 'corpus'. The corpus of a photograph is that which lies witin the borders of a photograph. A photograph is itself a body whose content is the body of the photograph. That content is its subject, the corpus of the photograph. So the second picture has as its corpus a smiling face. The space between the two photographs is a space without a subject, a space without corpus because that space is black, is information-less. We look to that black space and want to find a cause of a smile. We want to create a picture and place it in that black space as a picture of a fully identified cause of a smile. The first photo's corpus is of no expression. The second photo's corpus is of a smile. We look to the black space for a cause of the smile. But there is no information about the cause in that black space.

    Let's say you took the two pictures. Let's say you posed the person. You took the two pictures of that person's face. The first picture was a face with no expression. So you told the subject to smile. At the moment the smile formed on the face you snapped the second picture. As the photographer, you know why the face smiled. As a viewer of thsoe two photographs, the moment you said "Say cheese" is the black cloth between the two photographs. As a viewer I can infer that a photographer said "Say cheese." That is to say, I can infer a cause for a smile on a face and create a virtual third picture to put between your two. Inference made, case closed. My virtual snapshot states a relation, a causal link between two pictures. My virtual third picture substitutes for a missing picture. I now have a picture of the cause of the smile. Case closed.

    Now let's say there is just one photograph to consider. The corpus of that one photograph is a baseball team. Each team member is a body defined by the negative space around her/him. The photogrpah's corpus is of the moment the picture was taken. Put that photograph on a black cloth. We can infer a moment preceding the pictured moment, we can imagine a vitural photograph of a preceding moment. In a preceding moment, let's picture the team getting gathered together to be photographed. We can also infer a moment following the pictured moment. For example, the team went back to playing ball. Those two inferences are statements about 1) a cause of a moment; and 2) that pictured moment as a cause of subsequent moments. We may be able to make inferences from the corpus of the photograph. That corpus is information about other bodies as they existed in a moment, motion stilled. The negative space around one baseball player defines another player, etc. That's interesting as being bodies within inferencial space, space that both defines a body and implies a relation between the other bodies that together comprise the corpus of the picture. It's interesting because we are prone to fill in those gaps with our inferences. That we're inclined to fill in those gaps is a mystery of the mind.

    Let's go back to our example of two side by side pictures placed on top of a black cloth. Between two photographs of the same face lies a gap of inferencial space. The two photographs are of the same face, one expressionless the next with a smile. As a viewer, looking at the two photographs, we notice that there is a relation between them. One captured expressionless moment followed by a blank space followed by a second captured moment that is a picture of a changed facial expression. The blank space between those two pictures now seems significant, is sensed as significant. That black space, now sensed as significant, is inferencial space that encapsulates a meaning. Meaning is concealed in that black space, we can sense it. We turn on our mental inference maker and an inference is made. Meaning is unconcealed, revealed and the meaning is the cause of an effect, the cause of a smile: the photographer said "Say cheese.".

    So let's look more closely at our inference making process, the mental process that created an inference. An inference was created from blank space. That inference amounts to our having made a virtual picture whose corpus reveals a cause for an effect. Some examples. A dead man with a bullet wound. Two pictures from which we more or less automatically infer that 'the man was shot dead.' An human infant will look for a hidden cause, that is, if an infant didn't see the hand that moved a ball, it will look for a hand anyway, seeking an explanation for the motion of the ball, a body. In part that's why it's hard to get young children to believe in magic, they naturally look for a hidden hand instead. That search for a cause of motion is said to be instinctive in an infant once a certain age. Instead I say that humans have a mental structure, a brains structure, that is a sense organ that senses meaning. We sense meaning with that organ. Once sensed, we then focus our attention on that black space between two events. Then we form a mental picture of the cause and effect relation sensed to exist in a blank inferencial space. We then connect a cause to an effect by making an inference.

    We could instead say that consciousness itself is an organ that senses meaning. But consciousness does other activities too. It doesn't just look for meaning. Yet consciousness can turn its focus to contemplate inferencial space, an expanatory gap. I'm saing that a 'sensed meaning' is a precondition that must exist as a sense impression in order to then prompt consciousness to turn its focus and concentrate on the inferencial space that defines an effect in terms of its cause. Consciousness must be able to sense that an explanatory gap exits before it can turn its attention to it. Consciousness can't turn its attention to an explanatory gap that it doesn't know is there. I'm consequently identifying the operation of a mental sense organ whose sense impressions inform consciousness of the existence of an explanatory gap. A sense of meaning both senses meaning and senses an absence of meaning as an explanatory gap that must be filled. Meanings it senses don't require much of the consciousness that senses those meanings. But a sensed explanatory gap, a sense organ finding no meaning, get's conscious attention just like an action at a distance with no known cause gets our attention right now. I'm saying we have organs that collect information about our the world of sensory information. We have an organ that informs consciousness that world either is making sense right now or isn't making sense right now fundamentally with respect to bodies and motions. It is a function in consciousness, but not just consciousness itself. We have to call it a mental faculty independent of consciousness and that informs consciousness. It's an organ in itself.
  63. As much as meaning, a camera is an action detector, the actions it sees on the one hand, and the actions that can be inferred (and sometimes "seen" as the performance of the photographer) on the other hand. We often consider meaning and give these two kinds of action (the actions of the subjects in the photo and the actions of the photographer) less emphasis. For me, especially as a photographer interested in photographs, the actions behind whatever meaning I may find are quite significant and sometimes actually outweigh meaning.
  64. That makes total sense Fred.
    And I almost think that a camera can be analogized to consciousness and that we can do a thought experiment with an imaginary camera to illustrate the operation of a hypothetical component of an imaginary camera. That component analogizes to our hypothetical sense organ that senses meanings and explanatory gaps.
    Put a camera on an apparatus. Outfit the camera to detect motion. Provide the camera with mechanisms that will move the camera such that it can focus on a particular body in motion. Once focused, it automatically takes a picture. That picture is an array of interpretable expressions whose content, corpus, can be stored in memory. Program the camera to only focus on significant motions. What's significant? Motions between bodies that are separated by an explanatory gap. So too our hypothesized sense organ operates in consciousness. That organ identifies significances. Bodies and motions related by a known cause are significant, but bodies and motions without a known cause are sensed as deserving conscious attention now.
    Assuming that explanatory gaps are attractive to an organ that then will focus consciousness' attention to an explanatory gap: let's look at a specific photograph to see how that might work.
    Here's a link to one of Phil's galleries:
    The fourth picture in that gallery, three clicks to the right of the first, is a picture of a muzzled dog. The dog wears a muzzle. There's an explanatory gap that exists between two bodies in the photo: the dog and the muzzle. Call it a simple puzzle. My mind zooms in quickly on the dog's head, then goes right to the mouth. I see the muzzle. Explanatory gap. Why is the dog wearing a muzzle? Then the meaning, the cause, is revealed. I infer an answer. The dog bites. I smile. My experience of the photo then gives corpus, body, to the dog. It comes alive in me.
    I think these terms, bodies, motions, explanatory gaps all help me to observe my own picture viewing process. I like that picture of the dog because it revealed a meaning to me quickly. I like quick. Some don't. There's more to life than quick after all.
  65. Well, sure, but at some point in the creation of a narrative, it might as well be a video or a novel. In your example, it sounds like your speaking of a short visual poem.
  66. I thought I should more briefly present a more logical ordering of some of the ideas I earlier expressed in this thread. I do think that photography, language, art, creativity, and creative thought are deeply connected. How? It's a puzzle. Many others are puzzled. One one who comes to mind is Noam Chomsky the linguist. He coauthored this article: . In that article he and his coauthors attempt to explain the appearance of art objects among other artifacts that mark the beginning of our uniquely human experience. It's kind of a technical article. But to better state my own ideas I form this presentation as a response to that article in an attempt to better understand how it is that human language, art, and artistic photography all evolved in humans.

    The essay How Could Language Have Evolved? is an explanation for a recent and rapid evolutionary emergence of human language. It offers merge “…as the chief bridge between the ancestral and modern states for language.” Suggested is a minor morphological change in the human brain sufficient to support merge as a phenotypic property of humans.

    It follows that the merge property would have chiefly propagated by sexual reproduction. That’s problematic if merge evolved when ancestral humans were many and geographically well disbursed. For example, 1) distance could have impeded propagation; 2) varying rules governing mate selection between ancestral groups could have impeded propagation; and 3) fear and ignorance could have impeded propagation. Nevertheless, sexual propagation of merge is plausible under favorable conditions. I offer a simpler explanation.

    What if the propagation of human modern language was the spread of an idea and was not the spread of a genetic trait? What if symbolic thought was born in ancestral humans by an individual discovering the idea that the then existing innate atoms of UG could be used symbolically? Let’s say that the atoms of a UG were little used by our ancestral population. Our ancestral population would have used those atoms of UG in an animal language, referential and limited. An individual’s discovery of the symbolical use of the atoms of UG analogizes to an Anne Sullivan discovering symbolic word use and then teaching other ancestral humans how to use words symbolically. Our human use of FL would then descends from an original Anne Sullivan bearing an original idea.

    I propose that within the I-Language of an original Anne Sullivan, the idea was born that a word was also a symbol. With the atoms of a UG implemented with symbol, a word is internalized, no longer a mere reference to an object external to the mind. Consequently, our original Anne Sullivan could propagate her discovery by teaching much as our own Anne Sullivan taught words to Hellen Keller. Perhaps many original thinkers and teachers were the chief bridges between the ancestral and modern states for human language. Prehistoric art may have marked human groups as interesting carriers of a new idea. The proliferation of art would then be a marker of the spread of an idea, not a marker of the spread of a genetic trait.

    Note that my view is that a modern UG was long evolved yet underused by ancestral humans. Somewhere, one or more individuals conceived of symbolic word use. That idea spread rapidly. I suspect that a useful evolutionary theory of the origins of language best follows from an evolutionary theory of the origins of thought. Such a theory would be a unification, not a reduction. Summarizing, my view is that modern I-Language and E-Language developed in humans within the constraints of a UG deeply connected to an antecedent computational system, a faculty of thought (FT). Following is a quick sketch of an evolutionary theory of a FT.

    A FT evolved in an organism at an unknown point in time. Two atoms for a FT, for a primitive computational system, are bodies and motions. A body is a discrete object and consequently can be assigned a discrete signifier, an elemental representational object. However, motion is continuous, isn’t discrete. Let’s assume that as a process, a set of motions can be assigned a discrete identifier, that identifier a signifier of what analogizes to a stored procedure of motions. A motion as a stored procedure states a relation between bodies. With bodies and motions assigned discrete signifiers, I argue that a third elemental computational object is logically required in a primitive FT.

    Bodies move in relation to a fixed point and logic compels me to include a fixed point as an elemental signifier in a primitive FT evolved to compute relations between bodies. I identify that fixed point as an organism’s sense of itself as an organism. That sense of itself as a body would be a discrete signifier serving as the third element of a primitive FT, a primitive computational system that logically requires three elemental signifiers to meaningfully computer a relation between bodies and motions against a self-referential fixed point. With body and motion signifiers that are necessarily variable, I postulate that a fixed self-referential point would most meaningfully be a constant in a primitive FT.

    If I’m correct, an evolutionary history of the origins of FT would also be an evolutionary history of consciousness. The simplest theory of consciousness is to just say that consciousness is a fundamental property of organisms, perhaps of nature. More conservatively, consciousness perhaps evolved only as early as did flagella. Either way, our human senses would be six: senses of self, touch, taste, hearing, smell, and sight; where our human sense of self is a fundamental sense of our continuing presence amid perpetual change.

    Note that I am presently considering some evidence that support those ideas. Some evidence is in visual thinking and some is in animal language. A third area of evidence is dreaming. I regard a dream as a time series of visually expressed ideas. More formally, a dream is comprised of set of discrete mental visual representations that is a collection of discrete interpretable expressions – visuals - arranged in time order. Note that I suspect our night dreams to be mental visual products of a FT. Dreams contain ideas that reveal when we consciously translate dream imagery into I-Language. An algorithm for translating a dream into words may give insights into how a semi-conscious or pre-conscious thought gets translated into I-Language.
  67. I agree Phil, and expand that to say that if life is to be about something, then it has to be about something that both precedes and supersedes words. The problem is two, which I'll express in borrowed poetry (the bard)
    The parrot says to the human: "Have I not from your eyes that gentleness, does my lack of words from you that gentleness yet conceal?"
    And the human says to the parrot: "Have I not from your eyes that gentleness, does my use of words from you that gentleness yet conceal?"
    Poetically stated, those two resolve into:
    Parrot and human together say: "I have now from your eyes that gentleness and in my eyes your gentleness doest reveal."​
    Poetically, that is a reconciliation of humans to nature. Without such a unification I fear that as a species we won't survive. So in the language not of poetry, but of the language of natural philosophy, science, I attempt such a unified theory. It is a theory of language, thought, art and hence, of photography. Here it is in its most current draft, in form of an imaginary letter to Noam Chomsky.
    Dear Dr. Chomsky:

    You mentioned in a talk that you were aware of but one plausible explanation for a recent and rapid evolutionary emergence of human language. I offer an alternative explanation. I begin with a short summary of an essay you coauthored, mention some problems suggested by that thesis, offer a less problematic explanation, explore a germ of a theory of language and thought unification, point to bodies of evidence supporting that theory, and conclude with a request of you.

    The essay How Could Language Have Evolved? presents an explanation for a recent and rapid evolutionary emergence of human language. It offers merge “…as the chief bridge between the ancestral and modern states for language.” Suggested is a minor morphological change in the human brain sufficient to support merge as a phenotypic property of humans.

    It follows that merge propagated by sexual reproduction. There are impediments to sexual propagation if merge evolved when ancestral humans were many and geographically well disbursed. Those impediments include distance, fear, ignorance, and possibly diverse mate selection rules in ancestral groups. Nevertheless, sexual propagation of merge is plausible under favorable conditions. However, I offer an explanation with fewer impediments to the propagation of a newly emerged human language.

    What if the propagation of modern human language was the spread of an idea and not the spread of a genetic trait? What if symbolic thought was born in ancestral humans by an individual’s discovery that a sign didn’t just stand for a thing, was instead a symbol for a thing? If so, an alternative view emerges, stated in the following.

    Our human use of language descends from an original Anne Sullivan with an original idea, descends from an individual’s recognition that phonology was symbology. Prior to that discovery, ancestral human language was an animal language, a sign language, referential and limited. With words recognized as symbols, words are internalized and are no longer a mere reference to an object external to the mind. Consequently, an Anne Sullivan could teach others. Ancestral humans were only blind until an Ann Sullivan taught them to see with words. Many original thinkers and teachers could have been the chief bridges between ancestral and modern states for human language. Prehistoric art may have marked human groups as interesting carriers of a new and teachable idea. The proliferation of art would then be a marker of the spread of an idea, not a marker of the spread of a genetic trait.

    If plausible, that view describes an ancestral human brain sufficiently evolved to support merge. By that view, merge is not required to be a newly evolved phenotypic property of humans. From that view, a newly conceived use for an existing merge made ancestral humans into conceptual thinkers.

    If more than plausible, that view suggests as productive the idea that an ancestral human faculty for language was not inherently limited. From that proposition, I can derive a germ of a theory unifying thought and language that I feel has to be true, but am not yet confident enough to say is true. My theory identifies a minimum of three elemental discrete operands required of a biological computational system. Those three elements are a body, a motion, and a constant fixed point of reference. From those three elemental operands come a meaningful calculation of bodies and motions in a frame of reference that includes an organism as a fixed point. That calculation is at root a remembered set of an organism’s responses to sensory data, a set being a discrete object containing continuous data. Played backwards, that set contains instructions that guide an organism’s subsequent reactions to stimuli and manifest in an organism’s motions relative to other bodies.

    A logically required constant fixed point of reference, as a fundamental in a biological computational system, identifies an organism’s sense of itself as a fundamental constant. Implied is that Hume’s solution to the identity problem was wrong. Instead, an organism’s sense of continuing presence is required of an evolved organic computational system. Natural selection requires such a system to usefully compute relations between bodies. Intuitively, most useful to an organism are computations of bodies and motions performed against a constant fixed point of reference that is the organism’s sense of itself. Consequently, human physical senses include six: a senses of self, touch, smell, taste, hearing, and sight. Consciousness becomes by that theory either a precondition for thought, or evolved along with thought, or both. Conscious focus may be directed by a related sense of discrepancy that’s part of a faculty of thought. Also implicit in such a theory is the notion that an organism’s DNA would encoded information about relations external to the organism, a logical physical basis for the existence of inherited ideas. At least logically. Fortunately, there is evidence supporting the theory that organisms think and that some of their ideas are in part inherited action sets.

    One body of evidence is found in introspective observations of visual thought. Not a few introspecting humans report that they think in pictures. Interesting is the question of how those individuals translate visual thought into worded internal language. A related body of evidence is the mental phenomenon of dreaming. Dreaming has been empirically demonstrated to be visual thought, see for example, C. G. Jung and others. It isn’t reasonable to suggest that dreaming began with emergent human language because non-human animals also dream. Therefore, it is reasonable to asset that our ancestral humans also dreamt because we know that some more primitive non-human animals dream. Consequently, ancestral humans thought, albeit not fully. Most thought occurs in the unconscious, and I suggest that dreams are largely overlooked as evidence of the mostly unconscious mechanisms by which thought operates. Also implicit in the theory is some mechanism whereby an organism’s sense of continuing presence is suspended for sleep and recovered from sleep in a mental process evidenced by REM sleep and dreaming. Dreaming may be a phenomenon associated with reacquainting an organism’s sense of itself with circumstances existent immediately prior to the coming of sleep. Another body of evidence comes from the investigations of language in animals. Particularly interesting are studies of parrot ability to use human words in their internal language, arguably confirming parrot cognition, an interesting question being how does a parrot translate between borrowed human words and its internal language. Another body of evidence is perhaps to be found in the field of epigenetics, a field still in its infancy.

    Dr. Chomsky, would you offer to me a quick opinion of my view and related theory? If I have caused you any trouble in writing to you I sincerely apologize. However I think you particularly well equipped to work out how exactly those three elemental operands, if those three are logically required, engage merge. I have some misgivings about my own logical faculty.
    Sincerely yours.

    So Phil, I agree that creative expression does involve shutting down the words. We can't though. Unless we can find the words to all use to get us out of words and into an animistic experience of nature, not as a marvel, but as nature itself.
  68. So I've been developing a new idea, developing a new picture now for three weeks. My creative process is the creation in me of an idea. That creative process is on display here for anyone to see. Like are your photographs visible on for all of us to see. What I can't see is your creative process on display as nakedly as I have in public nakedly struggled to create. Did I produce anything of value? Is it science, art, or complete nonsense?
    Photographers put a lens over their minds eye and compose a picture. That picture isn't art if it isn't shared. Science too is a conversation. Who can participate in scientific conversations? There are rules for admittance into that conversation, just as there are rules for admittance into a conversation of art.
    So my view and theory expressed in all the above posts seem to me to be utter nonsense. I just can't make it work. It's crap. I'm crap. But wait. This might work. Does this work?!
    Tattersoll et al essentially says: The sudden appearance of a minor morphological change in the human brain was sufficient to support human language as a physical property, a phenotypic property, of humans.

    That is an Origins Story for our species, Chomsky says it is the only plausible evolutionary story that explains our distinctly human minds.

    Here is CG Jung's Origins story for our distinctly human minds from Memories, Dreams, Reflections. I'll give a link, not the full quote. Here is a small part of that linked quote:
    This was the stillness of the eternal beginning, the world as it had always been, in the state of non-being; for until then no one had been present to know that it was this world. I walked away from my companions until I had put them out of sight, and savored the feeling of being entirely alone. There I was now, the first human being to recognize that this was the world, but who did not know that in this moment he had first really created it.​
    Why it's the same Origins story.
    Tattersoll: Ancestral humans: language was just Object and Verb, expressed in pointing and sound.
    Jung: Ancestral human language was just Object and Verb, expressed in pointing and sound.
    Tattersoll: Modern human language is instead symbolic words, now: Subject Verb Object
    Jung: the modern human mind now has itself as a Subject alongside Verb and Object.
    Is this the same origins story.
    From mythology another origins story:
    She was told to never open the jar, but owing to her insatiable woman's curiosity, Pandora just cracked the lid. Out from the jar flew every trouble known to humanity. Strife, sickness, toil, and myriad other ills escaped to afflict men and women forever more. Pandora managed to trap one last spirit in the jar as she shut the lid, a timid sprite named Hope.

    But Jung ascribes human consciousness to our cognitive faculties generally without specifying a specific evolutionary mechanism under whose operation consciousness as a biological property could emerge. Tattersall ascribes saltation as the evolutionary mechanism that produced a physical mental structure allowing human language to develop.
    Is saltation producing a physical trait the correct mechanism? I don't think so. Sexual propagation of a single trait is kinda difficult given our contentiousness as a species. Not impossible, just unlikely.
    But Jung could be describing the interior of the first person to become self-aware. Sounds so mystical, but Tattersall describes the same event as the sudden emergence of human language as a physical structure in the brain. Folks like physical structures, organs, generally. So Jung described a sudden emergence. Tattersall describes a sudden emergence. Jung doesn't specify a specific evolutionary mechanism. Tattersall does. But I think Tattersall may be wrong to tie the emergence of language to the emergence of a new structure in the brain. It's not like he can point to that structure and he acknowledges that no one can and that nevertheless, it's the only way anyone has plausibly tried to specifically account for our human origin in evolution.
    I say an idea spread, that I exists, I am a Subject in Subject Verb Object. Words are symbols, not signs. No special physical structure in the brain needs to be identified. Ideas propagate by teaching. But what specific evolutionary mechanism explains a gradual evolution of consciousness? With Tattersall it was a suddenly appearing new structure in the brain. Jung sounds so WOO without a gradual evolutionary mechanism to buttress his placing the origins of consciousness in gradual evolution.
    So I propose that a gradual evolutionary mechanism for consciousness's evolution is implicit in the laws of relative motion. Two objects are just buzzing incoherence to each other without one setting itself as a fixed point in a frame of reference. Until then, there isn't any data, just noise. An organism's sense of itself is implicit for the physical laws of motion to be evolutionarily useful past a certain point of complexity in an organism. At that point, consciousness evolves as a fundamental property of life because of the operation of the law of relative motion. As far as I can tell that is a logically sound proposition for which bodies of evidence exist. Dogma can't argue with the laws of Physics, with the logic supported by sufficient evidence.
    It only took 40,000 or so words to get there. To develop that picture. And I may be wrong. It may still be nonsense. But that picture of idea can be tested. And about all the time it took me: I can't say to myself that it was a total waste of 40,000 words. I won't say that to myself ever.

  69. Phil I don’t believe The Art Instinct (Denis Dutton ) has been mentioned.

    From Dutton’s Ted Talk “Experience of beauty is one of the ways evolution has of arousing and sustaining interest or fascination even obsession in order to encourage us toward making the most adaptive decisions for survival and reproduction. Beauty is nature's way of acting at a distance so to speak.”

    I hadn’t heard that some think Homo erectus/Homo ergaster were doing art when making Acheulean hand axes 1.4 million years or so ago. (Dutton - A hand axe in a pointed leaf or teardrop form, the cutting edges of which show no evidence of wear on their delicate blade edges; some too big to use for butchering, hand axes of meticulous workmanship.) From Wikipedia: some say they had social significance and “One theory goes further and suggests that some special hand-axes were made and displayed by males in search of mate, using a large, well-made hand-axe to demonstrate that they possessed sufficient strength and skill to pass on to their offspring. Once they had attracted a female at a group gathering, it is suggested that they would discard their axes, perhaps explaining why so many are found together.” Dutton insists that hair styling is also art, illustrating hair styling with a cartoon of a H.erectus female sporting an alluring hair-do.

    So with irony I say: For Dutton, a Homo erectus man attracted females with a well-made, socially significant axe; and a Homo erectus woman got her mate with a well styled hair-do. Once a male and female H. erectus found each other in the crowd, the female discarded the male’s useless hand axe. That ritual discard was to inform all in the group that she had been claimed. Then the female, presumably, let down her hair. Even today human brides still ritually discard useless flowers presented to her by her groom, an echo of a time honored tradition originating in H. erectus. Still, some H. erectus women probably just went for a bad boy instead of for a H. erectus male who well made a hand axe.

    So I have a problem with reducing art to its function, where Dutton doesn’t seem to be bothered by calling art derived from survival and reproduction. I also have a problem with reducing everything to Eros and Thanatos. By such reductions we end up with everything explained, or if not explained, soon to be explained. There is some satisfaction in having a theory of everything, just as did the scholastics seem satisfied to explain everything by sympathies and antipathies. Galileo exposed scholastics as nonsensical. And Newton showed that a complete explanation for bodies and motions would forever be beyond our grasp. I agree with Chomsky so characterizing Newton’s sense of things: and transcript

    My problem with Dutton calling art as derived is the same problem I have calling consciousness derived from natural selection. Sure, Darwin goes a long way in explaining my lived experience. But Darwin doesn’t go so far as to explain why there is a me that has a lived experience, even in the Darwinian views on consciousness explored by Antonio Damasio of USC: , another Ted Talk. There he places consciousness, our sense of self, in our brain stem.

    Damasio does identify a protoself even in a single celled organism. He may in his book say why, but I haven’t read it. I attempt to say why in the following consideration of a single celled organism:

    An organism is a body in motion existing in an environment that is external to it. That environment is comprised of bodies and motions. The laws of motion tell us that the motions of two or more bodies are determined relative to a fixed point of reference, a rest frame. I propose that for an organism, the most meaningful rest frame would be its sense of itself as a body. I reason that without an organism’s sense of itself as a rest frame, the motions of that organism would forever be a “blooming, buzzing confusion”. Consequently, no adaptive motion would be possible without an organism’s proto sense of itself as a rest frame against which to measure its own motion relative to the bodies and motions external to it. Therefore, I propose that an organism’s sense of itself as a rest frame is a fundamental for its adaptive motion. Consequently, an organism’s proto sense of itself is as fundamental as the bodies and motions external to that organism.

    What I can’t go on to say is that consciousness is a prerequisite for life. I can put consciousness in evolution because Galileo said so by implication. Yet I can’t identify consciousness in the initial state of an organism, nor in the initial state of the universe. I don’t see how it might ever be ‘placed’ there. Nor can we ever hope to explain, as Newton comprehended, what matter is fundamentally.
  70. Phil - "No amount of words could say anything about the nature of thinking or about what it is and what is it."
    Well, my words say that Dutton anthropomorphizes and I think that says a lot about his thinking, that is, it is anthropomorphic thinking.
    I've also pointed to the science that produced a significant finding: thought is largely unconscious.
    I've also pointed to science as having come to an understanding of dreams as interpretable visually expressed meanings, as raw products of unconscious thought.
    I've also pointed to the phenomenon of conscious visual thinking, i.e, Dr. Temple Grandin.
    I've also pointed to scientific evidence that, despite the claims of ancient eastern religions and more recent Western Philosophers like David Hume, a sense of self isn't imaginary.
    I've also pointed to a body of evidence that suggests that animals think.
    But since to you, none of that illumination on the topic of thought would matter at all because you hold to a foregone conclusion, namely, that no one else's words could ever be illuminative about "...the nature of thinking or about what it is and what is it."
    The problem I suppose with a common language from which to discuss these things is that a common language removes a lot of wiggle room from foregone conclusions announced from an internal dialog. With that and endless quibbling about what a frozen moment is, I've lost whatever enthusiasm I had here.
  71. Charles W "What I can’t go on to say is that consciousness is a prerequisite for life."

    Now I think I can say that. Define self-awareness as a sense of one's own existence as in: I am the same person today as I was when I was five. That sense of our own existence doesn't change; it is permanent, fixed. Everything changes around it. But whether I am happy or sad, it is still the same unchanged me I sense as the object of things that make me happy and things that make me sad. But it is the same me. Things change all around me, things change all within me: but that sense of a continuous me feels the same today as when I was five. Call that particular sense of self a fundamental in organisms and that's an answer to Hume's personal identity essay. Why a fundamental in organisms? Organisms require a sense of of their own existence as separate and distinct from other objects in order for an organism's behavior to be advantaged behavior in evolution. Otherwise all is a blooming, buzzing confusion. A sense of self-existence is a prerequisite for life. Then where did it come from, that sense of one's own existence? From objects that aren't organisms.

    As to objects that aren't organisms: Begin with the observation that it is a measurement that causes the collapse of the wave function, an observer making a measurement. From that observation, Erwin Schrödinger offered: "I–I in the widest meaning of the word–am the person, if any, who controls the ‘motion of the atoms’ according to the Laws of Nature." How? Eugene Wigner conjectured that consciousness' observations created the world of lived experience, conscious minds. He offered that some ethereal mind-consciousness bridged the world of quantum mechanics to the world of general relativity. What I offer is that elemental particles, the super small, have a sense of their own existence. So the fundamental building blocks of nature have a sense of their own existence and that sense of themselves is what makes the world of our lived experience real. The subjectivity of each elemental building blocks of matter is a fundamental property of matter, rooting the observer in matter itself, not rooting the observer in some cosmic conscious mind.
    So. That all leads to the question: Is your camera self-aware?
  72. Probably a better summary of the idea that camera's are self-aware:
    From the transcript a David Chalmers Ted Talk "How do you explain consciousness?": "Consciousness also is what makes life worth living. If we weren't conscious, nothing in our lives would have meaning or value. But at the same time, it's the most mysterious phenomenon in the universe. Why are we conscious? Why do we have these inner movies? Why aren't we just robots who process all this input, produce all that output, without experiencing the inner movie at all? Right now, nobody knows the answers to those questions. I'm going to suggest that to integrate consciousness into science, some radical ideas may be needed."
    I agree radical ideas may be needed. Here goes.
    Directly examining my own consciousness, I describe it: Consciousness in me is my field of awareness at whose center lies my sense of my own existence. It is I - I who senses my own existence - who is aware that I am the subject of my experiences. It is I who senses my own existence who experiences a stream of conscious content that includes my self-awareness.
    What is it like, my sense of my own existence? First, I sense myself as unique, as separate and distinct from others. Second, that unique self is always recognizable to me as being 'me'. About my sense of my own existence I can say "Except for my experiences, I'm the same me today that I was when I was five"; and I can say of it "Be me happy or sad, it is the same me." That self-recognizing me is tacitly and explicitly present in my lived experience.
    I can say nothing more about what that core sense of my own existence is like. I can say what my lived experience is like. From the vantage point of my core sense of my own existence, everything else is in flux. Experience notwithstanding, at core I sense myself as being the same 'me' today that I was yesterday.
    I use the term 'fixed point consciousness' to convey my sense of having a recognizable, permanent 'me', a 'self-sensing' self at the center of consciousness that articulates within my lived experience. David Hume termed that sense of self as his sense of his own continuing presence in the world. Others refer to it as a fixed, permanent sense of one's self as separate and distinct from everything else, a permanent, separate and distinct self that is continuously recognizable as one's self regardless of time and place. Regarding time and place, I noted above that my core sense of self articulates tacitly and explicitly through my lived experience and that my core sense of self is present among all the other objects that comprise my stream of consciousness / lived experience.
    By direct observation I identify but three qualitative properties of fixed point consciousness: 1) Differentiated from all else, separate and unique; 2) Continuous, always feels itself to be the same self regardless of time and place; and 3) Articulated throughout my lived experience tacitly and explicitly. I assume that others observe those three properties when observing their own fixed point consciousness.
    With fixed point consciousness identified and described qualitatively, I'll use the term fixed point consciousness to rephrase the hard question of consciousness. Why does consciousness have a sense of its own existence at its core? Why does fixed point consciousness exist in Nature? We understand we need to sense our environment to live. But why would we also sense our own existence? Why should we have a sense of self at all, why should there be fixed point consciousness, a 'me' that senses its own existence?
    To address that question I propose that fixed point consciousness is a fundamental in organisms.
    Why a fundamental in organisms? An organism is a living body moving relative to other bodies where those other bodies are also in motion. I propose that without a sense of its own existence as a fixed point relative to other bodies in motion, an organism would not exhibit evolutionarily advantaged behavior. I argue that an organism would not exhibit evolutionarily advantaged behavior absent a sense of its own existence because absent that sense of a self with physical boundaries, an organism's behaviors would be "... one great blooming, buzzing confusion" (William James). In my view, James with his phrase blooming, buzzing confusion described a hypothetical world where the physical laws of relative motion don't allow in a reference frame a fixed point from which to measure relative motion. In my view, fixed point consciousness is the fixed point in an organism which makes possible its computations of relative motion and brings meaning (position and momentum) to an organism's behaviors. In my view, an organism's fixed point consciousness is an organism's fixed point in a reference frame against which the positions and motions of itself and other sensed objects are measured. (See Note 1)
    I want to stress that as I argue it, fixed point consciousness is common to all organisms and can't have resulted from complexity because organisms without a brain also display evolutionarily advantaged behavior. (See Note 2) Although I functionally describe fixed point consciousness in an organism, I do not argue that fixed point consciousness arose from evolution. Instead I argue that fixed point consciousness is a precondition for evolutionarily advantaged behavior in organisms and I am consequently proposing that fixed point consciousness is not in its origins solely a product of biologicals, is a fundamental in organisms not derived from anything else.
    Where then did the first evolutionarily advantaged organisms get fixed point consciousness?
    The same place cameras get it.
    Your thoughts?
  73. Phil, point taken.

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