Paradigms of Consciousness
Session 3, February 8, 2002
Edelman (from J.R. Searlesí The Mystery of Consciousness)
I. Edelmanís central points
A. Perception physically maps onto a part of the anatomy,
B. A genetic overabundance of neurons is winnowed out
by natural selection during development
C. Re-entry: parallel signals go back and forth between
and among maps, much more than just feedback, but actual enhancement
and checking going on
D. Different maps solve different aspects of perception:
shape, size, location . . .
E. We have primary consciousness (weíve called this awareness)
and higher order consciousness (self-awareness)
II. To have primary consciousness must have:
A. Memoryónot just storage and retrieval, but also re-creation
B. System for learning that involves valuing, preferencing
certain things to learn
C. Discrimination of self and non-self
D. System for categorizing events in time and forming
E. Special memory for the value we give certain categories
F. Re-entry connections between this special memory and
III. But how do we get the ëemergent propertyí of consciousness
out of Edelmanís model?
A. Could just be a threshold of a critical number of
maps that equals consciousness
B. Could be his model still doesnít explain consciousness,
canít make the leap
C. Is consciousness as an emergent property analogous
to protein folding as one?
D. Is consciousness as a ëpattern of energyí different
E. Could this all be modeled (as Edelman has attempted)
by AI? Isnít a computer operating system a type of mind with the
OS itself as the emergent property? Fuzzy logic might allow for
surprises in this line of work . . .
F. Electrical activity of neurons has been the focus,
but also are other important cellular activities, like that of glial
cells that are important
G. Must remember that we can change everything we call
consciousness by changing the brain (by disease or other damage)
H. Selection and biology, says Edelman, are the key to
understanding experience, not classical philosophical discussions
I. Are autistics conscious?
J. How do we get from mechanisms to qualia? Another
way of asking the question thatís been at the heart of this seminar
and, presumably, consciousness studies.
K. Is all Edelmanís complex "parallelness" itself consciousness?
Is it a convergence/aggregate of many cells or one cell that can be
L. How do we get decision-making out of parallel processing?
M. Is it just the brain or the whole body that makes