Epistemontological Synthesis of Psychopathological States, Part II
Conflicting Mental Representations of the Same Phenomenological Data.
In our continuing effort to strengthen previously published arguments on one important conjecture/speculation in the BPS model of brain dynamics premise about the uniqueness of the newborn human proto-language in making possible an adaptive, evolving generation of thought (as expressed in the adopted language), we extend the analysis to discuss how the brain’s inherited and acquired information processors join forces allowing for the adaptive evolution of language in a constantly changing body internal and external environment. We anticipated the logical need for an inherited protolanguage with an essential and unique inner structure capable of keeping pace with changing reality as articulated/expressed in the adopted current language structure. This is the position of the Chomsky neurolinguists in their defense of an inherited generative grammar as opposed to the Wittgenstenian psycholinguists advocating language use as the exclusive causally efficient agency influencing the current language structure by subjecting empirical linguistic input to the general principles of human cognition. We provide arguments for both models and argue for the need for a synthesis of both contrasting models.This includes an attempt to analyze how may audio-visual and verbal inputs can be synchronized into a common brain representation and subjected to a Dirac type vector analysis formulations (bra-ket version) with useful predictive value. We also follow up on a previous discussion on how in the process we may also generate a contradictory, self-defective, conscious paradox as evidenced in clinical psycholinguistic assessments, FMRI and EEG data as was briefly singled out in another previous publication. See: https://angelldls.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/controlling-the-self-deceptive-syndrome/
Language-based mental representations of sense phenomenal physical reality are sensitive to both the perceptual experience of the variable physical object/event attributions (suffered by an invariant brain particulate matter aggregation) and the language tool ability/competence to generate the corresponding truthful symbolic and/or sentential representation. We need not consider either one, the intensionalist Chombskian or the extensionalist Wittgenstenian models, as exclusive of the other even though admittedly, perceptual information is not as defective as conceptual information truthfulness input can be in the decision-making process.
These considerations brought us early on to the complex conundrum of having to analyze the mind-brain interface by compartmentalizing it into a language thought interface component and a different ‘self’ language-thought interface separately. To illustrate, after much confusion, we decided to consider the introspective discovery of ‘self’ as an internal indirect perception (different from the classic neuro-humoral environmental input) as different from the ‘other’ physical things outside. This implied, at the same time, that the paradoxical metaphysical ‘self’ becomes the driving force behind the co-generation of language and thought! However, this most controversial element of the BPS model, charged with the denotation of ‘self’, is assisted by the direct confirmation of the different spatiotemporal coordinates of the observer ‘I’ and observed ‘other’. Notice how this conceptual, universal, invariant brain generated the indirect perception of ‘self’ to distinguish our human uniqueness from other subhuman species. See Dretske, 1999 for a related analysis. This way, the media of information conveyance by the linguistic representation of thoughts becomes dependent on the idiosyncrasies structural features of the acquired language while the sense phenomenal features become image-like media representations (symbol-filled arrays) of the same experience. The interactive dependence of the graphic phenomenological and the language-coded metaphysical brain representations is obviously apparent. The conceptualization of a sense phenomenal object/event requires the observer’s instantation of the experience as a requisite sine-qua-non to generate phenomenal beliefs. Likewise, you cannot conceptualize phenomenological experiences using language symbolic/sentential tools (e.g., propositions in language of thought) unless the observer personally experienced the audiovisual sensory imaging of the object/event. The challenge of proving that an audiovisual and a discursive content share a common linguistic media of information transfer may never be achieved unless modern technology allows for the synthesis of analog continuous attributions and digital discontinuous core particles components into one common linguistic media for an effective/reliable information transfer role. This alternative is reminiscent of how the measurable invariant, discontinuous, physical particulate nature (digital) remains in inseparable association with the also measurable, varying, continuous, metaphysical wave nature (analog) of its mode of propagation. Is the invariant, discontinuous, material particulate nature of an apple more important than its variable continuous nature of its red color reflections evidencing its ripeness state? Surprisingly, the answer may depend on the individualized conscious choice of the observer! Is that different from the measurable invariant, discontinuous, digital nature of the substrate brain material particles and the also measurable variations in space-time, continuous, analog nature of the particles attributions, e.g., its waveform way of propagation? Is it possible that aggregated brain particulate matter (digital, measurable, invariant and, discontinuous), correlates with the conscious choice of selecting/parsing the analog, variable and continuous language structure that is relevant and appropriate to our true feelings? Are thought representations in neural networks organized like language structures?
In this brief discussion we distinguish the linguistic competence from the performance in the use of an adopted language. Because language generation is the result of a physical brain activity it cannot claim entire independence from other human cognitive processes. The moment a toddler discovers he is different from the sense phenomenal ‘other’ world within sight or hearing (see Piaget), the process of individuation in language competence starts. His ability to learn a language from his parents varies according to inherited factors while performance abilities are acquired and vary according to historico-geographical factors, themselves subject to generational changes or geographical isolations created by mountain ranges or national boundaries. Yet, their internal invariant structure of the brain physical micro substrate is arguably the same, as discussed earlier.
While for Wittgenstenian externalists languages are social-historical entities influenced by clear historico-geographical individuation conditions, languages unavoidably also share on the human species’ biological individuation process. These underlying biopsychosocial (BPS) equilibrium processes are also present in evolved subhuman species. This underscores the fact that individual human ‘bps’ beings and their circumstances cannot be exclusively considered as social groups. The subtle confusion comes about when both extreme intensionalists and extensionalists researchers isolate the common ‘bps’ equilibrium needs of the ‘idiolect singularity’ of their virtual subject of investigation from the equilibrium conveniences of the same individual when adapting to the dialect or language of a geographical, social, historical, or political group. Computer generated I-languages are thus best understood as the ‘BPS’ brain dynamics properties of the minds of the virtual individuals who know them. Experimentally this requirement has been met when testing the biological endowment of a ‘brain in a vat’ equivalent isolated from psycho-social environmental circumstances as has been done in retinal vision experiments using modern technologies. To illustrate, identical twins share the same internal states but suppose there exist unknown body-proper visual environmental variations in their quotidian real time existential reality, such as retinal pathology in one of the twins? Have you ever been able to distinguish psychosocial behavioral differences by the twins different choice of syntacto-semantic structure when responding to the same relevant questions during a clinical interview? These studies are well documented by observing the fMRI and EEG parameters during such interviews. Same external reality causing different mental states as expressed in their language structure conscious choice. See Chomsky, 1995. The real challenge to the intensionalist/generative grammarians is to formulate a convincing representation/reduction of this conceptualization to show that the extensionalist truth value arguments in behalf of the psycho-social substratum of all languages is logically false. Instead, the ‘intensionalists’ exclusivist interpretation suggest that languages are just convenient variations on a needed theme common to all, the biologically inherited proto-language generative grammar. This interpretation *stresses the need but ignore the BPS conveniences as illustrated by the distinction between the innate competence and the acquired language-based conscious choice of verbalizations, as discussed.
The exclusivist intensionalist argument goes as follows: When we say ‘The apple is red we are describing the phenomenological attribution/predicate of the subject apples in general (barring any visual color defects of the observer). This means there is an invariant particulate matter in the brain with a potentially variable attribution of color. As expressed, is this a truth valued reality for all normal human observers anywhere in space time, regardless of their visual physiological facts? Does it matter? The red extensional appearance of the invariant particulate matter in a physical apple is shared by all particulate matter with that same sense-phenomenal redness attribution, not just apples. We don’t need to consider now the serious sense-phenomenal limitations of human observers as compared to other sub-human species observing same apple.
If we were to restrict our domain of discourse by moving from the still extensional predicate set of all universal particles of red matter appearance to a consciously chosen predicate sub set of general red apples contained therein, we can still represent the ‘intensional’ invariant aspects of the apple and the extensional varying aspects of their redness appearance.
By using quantum probabilities and metaphysical logic analysis, we can represent that set -or any other equivalent set- using symbolic/sentential tools. Choosing Dirac’s vector space ‘bra-ket’ notation as the analytical tool we can explicate the universal invariant aspect of the set in terms of a general mathematical function able to explain more restricted domains as: f(n) = n × n where ‘n’ can represent, e.g., either a number sequence (integers2 like 12, 22, 32…n2) or a word sequence (e.g., the word ‘apples’, ‘semantic’, ‘structures’, ‘syntax’, etc.). The invariant aspect applies to any domain on which the operation ‘x’ is defined and the variant aspects of any color can be coded. Notice that if the various ways of expressing redness had been formulated as a sequence of ‘rational’ numbers, it will contain infinity terms that we want to avoid. Each appropriate co-extensional member of the variable set may interact with each other and modify the extensional appearance of the universal red apple (e.g., wet, bright, dark, etc.) thus compromising the truth value of the phenomenological visual perception. Let us see now how this reasoning may apply to a language structure.
Any adopted language can be identified with the set of what is common and invariant to ALL languages (inborn generative grammar) and the subset of possible variations in relevant word sequence structure, rhyme, syntax, etc. of the adopted language. The difference between the invariant, intensionalist common universal structure (its generative grammar) and the extensionalist variations of these structural parameters in the adopted language -as empirically experienced during clinical interviews- is at the root of this controversy between intensional and extensional model defenders. In our opinion the intensional model provides for an individuation of linguist expressions making room the individual and his relevant circumstances regarding his competence and experiences in the use of the language. The value of Chomsky’s mathematical formulation is that it can be a useful analytical tool for many issues besides language.
Summary and Conclusions.
We hope there should be no doubt about the self-evident fact that a sense phenomenal object or event precedes its symbolic or sentential mental representation and not the other way around. But mental representations are often made of conceptual thoughts with no sense phenomenological features like e.g., qualia. On the other end of the spectrum there are sensations/feelings with clear phenomenal neurohormonal etiological features that resist conceptual strait jackets. Either one or both situations can define a mental state. The same hybrid taxonomy applies to extensionalist expressions of natural languages integrating a physical sensory object/event with a possibly biased belief as to, e.g., its origin. What we can learn from this experience is that, as it turns out, semantics and pragmatics are a central part of the study of any adopted language that preceded the evolution of a newborn inherited proto-language into what currently is considered ‘current’ in later stages of his development. We do not assign a name to an object/event we have not sensory experienced first. Furthermore, any mind/brain model should try to explain the extensional environmental variations within the context of the intensional brain parameters, Exploring the syntacto-semantic interface will likely remain an unsolvable big challenge indeed unless the issue becomes a shared joined object of investigation between science, philosophy and psychotherapists. We need to integrate the epistemological ‘intensional’ aspects with the ontological sense-phenomenal aspects as an epistemontological unit whole. We continue to narrow our domain of discourse by analyzing now the truth value meaning assigned to verbalizations expressed using the language structure of the adopted language.
The same distinctions made in the preceding analyses apply when different extensional expressions in any given natural language about the same reference object/event is observed. This implies that the truth value content expressed in the same given language by two individuals may yet contain different language structures and underlying conceptualizations as Frege underscored, i.e., two individuals linguistically expressing in a given language the same phenomenontological physical reality while having different, but hidden, mental states representations may assign different meanings to the same experience.
To facilitate our pedagogical analysis we preferred to model how an internal and invariant physical brain is influenced by externally varying environmental conditions as expressed linguistically. We consider ‘environment’ as both the measurable internal body proper neuro humoral milieu and the external measurable/observable varieties and their appropriate mental representations as seen from the perspective of a ‘representational theory of mind’ in a joint effort to find meaning (semantics) to potentially damaging information inputs to the currently adapted individual BPS equilibrium.
How do we best verbally express in a given acquired language the relations between the invariant physical brain and the mental representations of the internal/external variable physical environment affecting it? We ask the question, what is the truth value of an expressed statement? Could there be present a confabulatory state (illusion, hallucinations, etc.), a self-serving interest or an underlying altruistic intention being expressed? What is the best way to gain an insight into this complexity?
The best model should be able to ontologically describe/identify and/or epistemologically explain the causally efficient agency driving the changes observed, taking into consideration our human species innate perceptual and conceptual brain limitations. Within these limitations we cannot but emphasize the probabilistic nature of both aspects which are currently best described by a quantum theoretical/Bayesian logic approach. Reliable and falsifiable physical measurements / observations with credible metaphysical logic are of the essence. Either isolated component may be necessary but not sufficient to satisfy the important truth value goal. This stresses the need for a dynamic integration as herein suggested.
In our opinion Chomsky’s mathematical model approach can be updated to make it possible to extract more meaning from relevant ‘invisibilities’ escaping phenomenological identification in a predictive way. This way the confusion created by the common paradoxical ocurrence of an existing mental representation being caused by a physical object/event that the brin does NOT represent is minimized. To illustrate, the previous mental representation by a toddler of the behavior of a family pet dog, when applied to the unfamiliar sighting event of an escaped wolf from the local zoo may bring disastrous consequences if their sudden unanticipated encounter were to materialize! Identical twins with different behavioral attitudes to the same existential physical reality proves the point. In our quotidian existential reality extensionalist oriented psychotherapies trump any intensionalist-oriented approach. A neurolinguist led analysis of patient expressions describing his ailment may discover etiologies otherwise unavailable to the psychotherapist practitioner charged with the responsibility of saving his life after a putative suicide attempt! Theoretically the extensional act precedes its formulation but in real life a causally unrelated false formulation, illusions, hallucinations, etc. may drive overt or restrained behavior.
The coexistence of conscious awareness of conflicting mental representations is yet another problem analyzed elsewhere. Unfortunately these considerations do not enjoy wide popularity among the practitioners and are not taken to be of central importance in the design of a causal and content-based psychotherapeutic protocol. In the pursuit of an adaptive BPS equilibrium, most people would subconsciously be driven by acts that make them healthy, happy and socially convivial whether the driving forces are the results of faulty perceptions of causal factors or not. We have emphasized on the crucial importance of mental representations as determined by the dynamic brain properties intrinsic to the patient such as the syntactic structure of his acquired language or his linguistic competence in processing demanding intramental computations or his inferential capacities.
Dr. Angell O. de la Sierra, Esq. In Deltona, Florida Winter 2013