Varela and consciousness

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« on: April 24, 2013, 06:07:40 pm »
Quote from: Church
A few days ago I started a Masters in Psychology, and one of the books it was suggested I read was The Embodied Mind by Francisco Varela. I found its criticisms of the cognitive perspective and the computer metaphor quite interesting, and I was wondering if anyone of a science-cy background could tell me what they/others think of Varela? His criticism of cognitive scientists for viewing the mind as a machine which is stimulated by set inputs seemed to me to be pretty hard to argue against, if he is right that no objective reality exists to stimulate the mind in such a way, but I would like to know how people have rebutted him (especially given that the book was published 20 years ago and the cognitive perspective still seems to be going strong).

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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2013, 06:07:46 pm »
Quote from: Madness
While I'm on a posting roll, Church, congrats on starting your Masters. I'm interested in hearing where you're going and your thoughts on research but that's something I'd invite you to share privately, I'd think.

I'd not heard of Varela before this thread, though, apparently in reading about him now he's half responsible for the Integral Institute and when I was younger I devoured works by Ken Wilber, who is the spearhead of the philosophies, psychologies and the school.

Some thoughts in the minimal research I've done on him - though I'm going to take a break from studying and check the library for him today while I'm on campus. Any embodied cognition argument, or a perspective in cognitive psychology that incorporates it, seems to argue that our sensory/motor interactions with the world determine the type of cognition expressed - arguably, this is almost a basic assumption of biopsychology because even the simplest nervous systems are studied as exactly that, a relay from the environment to the creature that executes some type of function. At least in my studies and personal research.

Also, the metaphor you highlight is just a really good one to remind neuroscience of. The one analogy we should take away from the computer and the brain is that the brain continues to defeat analogy. Nuff said. Learn what we can about minds from computer systems, let them inspire us, and move on. In my opinion, of course.

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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2013, 06:07:52 pm »
Quote from: Callan S.
How do you objectively determine there is no objective reality?

Reminds me of 'If sorcerers are those who cheat and cheat, who makes the rules of sorcery?'

How do you get the objective rules of determining there is no objective reality?