The Homunculus Problem

From: McKee, Alex (
Date: Wed Mar 05 1997 - 11:31:53 GMT

So the assumption is that if sentences, for example, are represented
inside your head either visually or audibly, a little person then sees
this and so on down the chain of continually progressing homunculi to
such an extent that no conclusion can be extracted from the mess? Could
this homonculus problem not be an inaccurate view of how we perceive, in
this case, internal language? Our communication mediums are
audio-visual, so we could well feel that we see or hear internal speech
when in fact we simply feel as in experience speech. Then the homunculus
problem has ceased to be. Not a how he doesn't do it but a what he
doesn't do?

This divergence to the problem posed by the little homunculi is an
example of what I consider the brain good at doing. Is it not a logical
move away from the idea of a homunculi and to the idea of communication?

I'm trying to say that the poor little homunculus has no logical part
to play in the previous equation of 'representing' sentences in the mind
and so is by-passed. Abandoned as a reject of a failed thought
experiment. I feel sad for it because there appears to be another way to
transform the equation without viewing any of the previous parts as a
barrier to understanding.

 The mind, in this case taken as an arbitrary comparison to that of the
brain (a distinction, not seperation, to be seen between paradox and
logic appreciation respectively), by use of its hypothetical defining
function, intuition, recalibrates(it is a word) the initial thought
experiment differently. Is it necessarily more accurate, or is it just a
different proposal with an equal measure?

Instead of running away from the homunculi, why don't we go for 'no
limitations' and allow an infinite number of homunculi and an infinite
amount of introspection? We can then take the 'bootstrap theory' from
Physics (the universe is atomic reactions that in turn creates bonding
mechanisms which holds itself together by itself (I think?)) and apply
it to our infinite situation in the form of a loop. If no matter where
the eyes or ears go, they remain part of a self-contained, albeit
infinite loop, then no matter far we look, we find ourselves looking.

In other words, the abyss of numerical infinity that the arbitrary
division of logic would necessarily not be able to handle, is accounted
for by use of the paradox of a closed infinite loop. How do we
appreciate a paradox?

As I understand the Papez circuit from Neuroscience (our generation of
emotions into our awareness), there is no hierarchy, no start or no
finish. If we argue that the differentiation of emotional states is one
of analog progression and not of digital spacing, then could we not
assume that emotions can be represented as a circle rather than a
bi-polar line? As I remember, the amount of times you can sub-divide the
degrees of a circle is infinite. Thus the Papez circuit as a proposed
process within a closed loop, has no problem in dealing with the
potential infinite differentiation of emotion. Why should our homunculi?

However small the gap may be between physically speaking to yourself
and mentally speaking to yourself, a distinction can be seen. 'Silent
running' or internalisation of speech as proposed by Vygotsky may be a
minute step but it is one that distinguishes itself as an absence of
motor functions when communicating, even if it is only with yourself. If
we define 'TELEPATHY' as communication between two seperate people in
which no motor functions aid that communication, can we link
internalisation to an idea of self-telepathisation?

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