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Lecture 4

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New College
John Vervaeke

Lecture 4 Translating Darwin’s concepts to cognitive science: Phenomenology Relevance realization satisfies the naturalistic imperative: it can be multi-apt and profound. Phenomenology: how events are structured to make sense to you Let’s lay a framework to RR RR is prerational: using logic can not produce RR. RR has no logical precedence. Rationality is a product of your ability to do RR – rationality comes from relevance realition RR is preempirical, preexperiential: RR sets up the structure in which you experience events. Your experiences (as a cognitive agent) are a product of your RR. RR is pre-conceptual: representations are always subjective to something (symbols are not intrinsic) RR is prenormative: you cannot make a judgement about something without the realization that it is relevant. Your sense of REALNESS is preceded by RR. The metavalue of realness, legitimacy, truth, is via RR. RR is preegoic. Your RR produces your sense of identity. Ok! RR produces your fundamental framing of the world – your metameaning. All structures of meaning are produced in this FF 3 important dimensions of RR phenomenology Organisms have needs: things are relevant TO an organism (needs subject and object) Quick distinction: a chemical system is self-organized. But it does not have needs. It does not make itself (autopoesis). A biological system is autopoetic. Autopoesis is a subset of RR with the function of making oneself, taking care of itself. Bacteria finds relevance in sugar, an inert chemical. It gives relevance to sugar, perceives it as FOOD. Sugar is not intrinsically food. Food becomes important: it imports (brings toward) sugar A system that cares about itself cares about the environment Is the bacteria being intelligent? Hard to say. 1) Information and importance Information: a reduction in the uncertainty for the receiver. Info selectively constrains the possibilities. It rules possibilities out. Information is always polluted (noisy), partial (not complete), and is a plethora (a lot of info). The difference between signal and noise is not intrinsic, depends on relevance. If organisms are exposed to too much nonsensical information, it becomes anxious (without any direct harm!) Is something a signal or is it noise? When a message gets sent, you can react two ways. Imagine an antelope on the plains. You react two ways: -this is signal: this is a predator! Dash away! The risk: mistake the signal -this is noise: this is the wind. Relax. The risk: miss the signal Which reaction is more key to survival? Of course, react to the noise! Ignoring the signal gets you killed. Organisms are designed to mistake the signal many times, sacrificing accuracy to reduce misses. 2) Co-relevance What do organisms do to interpret the partial polluted plethora of info? They seek patterns. Not only that! But they seek to complete them. We get satisfaction in predicting the system: Salt and ___, black and ___, left and ___. There is distinct pleasure in finishing patterns. Patterns are what make up corelevance. Two objects are relevant, and also relevant to each other. If objects lose their corelevance to one other (they don’t relate), the object becomes absurd. Absurdity is distressing. 3) Transcendence Autopoetic things improve their world, not just act in it. Life is self-improving, not just self preserving. Objects can be relevant to the future self. Relevance: objects consume AND produce relevance. Communication: it is important to produce info relevant to others, to be a signal generator. Becoming an effective signal generator means internalizing the world with perceptival processing. This brings about the dimension of transcendence. When you cannot make relevance for others or for yourself, you become alienated. More so, isolated, lonely. Think of a castaway: s/he would contemplate suicide not because they are cold or starving, but because they are lonely. The 3 dimensions balance each other: Importance in, transcendence out. Co-relevance is the fulcrum, the mediator of the process. If you are having trouble experiencing these 3 things, you experience horror: anxiety, disconnect, confusion. Your sense of worldly contact is gone, your FF is f
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