Re: Mental Imaging

From: HARNAD Stevan (
Date: Fri Mar 08 1996 - 19:58:00 GMT

> From: "Mason Corinne" <>
> Date: Fri, 8 Mar 1996 10:52:45 GMT
> According to Einstein :
> 'Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical
> world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it.
> Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are completely empty
> of reality.'

Yes, one can't find out about the world of objects through logic alone.
Logic can only tell us what follows necessarily from what, not what
happens to be true in the world.

But "experience" alone isn't knowledge either: It's just a raw
videotape. To make sense of it, you have to start sorting it out, into
objects and events and processes. And you need to make predictions, and
see if the predictions come out correct. And then you have to sort out
WHY the predictions come out right (it's not just sorcery). And all that
naming and describing and explaining is composed of propositions.

But not propositions arrived at by "purely logical means." The
propositions need to be grounded in sensory experience. We'll get
to that a bit later in the course. The origin of creative ideas will
come at the very end of the course.

> If the homunculus is rejected by moving to propositions instead of
> images, surely this would suggest that the mind would have no sense of
> reality?

Not necessarily. Even a computer has input and output. If propositions
(symbols) were the only thing going on in the mind, the reality would
still come in in the form of data.

> Does this mean that the homunculus is what keeps us in touch
> with reality, and contribute part of the reason for individual
> experience of reality being completely subjective?

Unfortunately this mixes things up a bit. There is no homunculus.
There's just you. And when we want to explain what's going on in your
mind, we don't want to say there's yet another mind (a homunculus) in
there, doing it all, because otherwise we'd have to explain what was
going on in the homunculus's mind, and so on. We want to get rid of any
reliance on the mind when we try to explain the mind. Otherwise it
would be like explaining a flying machine by saying inside the flying
machine is a machine that flies...

What keeps us in touch with reality is our senses. And it is not reality
that is completely subjective -- if by reality you mean that real world
of objects and people out there; on the contrary, it is reality that is
completely OBjective. What is subjective is experience itself.
Subjective means "going on in the subject's mind." Objective means going
on in the world. Of course, it's only through our minds that we have any
contact with the world; and our minds are parts of the world too.

It is all this that needs to be explained, when you try to explain the

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