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from Francisco Varela
  • Around the same time The Embodied Mind came out, there was a strain of work on Heideggerian artificial intelligence which was very much in the same spirit…I wonder if you were aware of this work (then or later) and have any thoughts about it? (Terry Winograd, Phil Agre, David Chapman were some of the people in this field)

The Embodied Mind

03 Jul 2021 12:09 - 03 Jul 2021 12:42

    • Notes
      • Freud's great discovery was that not all represdentations were accessible to consciousness; he never seemed to doubt that the unconscious, for all that it might operate on a different symbol system that the conscious, was fully symbolic. fully intentional, and fully representational. (p47)
        • Is that right?
      • Refers to Erdelyi's "rather placidly accepted translation (of Freud) into cognitivist-based information processing language". Sneeringly presents a sort of computational version of Freud, but "many contemporary post-Freudian theorists (Lacan) would disagree, such theorizing misses the central spirit of the psychoanalytic journey–to move beyond the trap of representations, including those about the unconscious"
      • It is presently fashionable to say that Freud "decentered" the self; what he actually did was to divide the self into several basic selves...
      • This seems somewhat wrong or dense. It's confusing different senses of representation.
      • There is a difference, however, between what we usually mean by “unconscious” and the sense in which mental processes are said to be unconscious in cognitivism: we usually suppose that what is unconscious can be brought to consciousness—if not through self-conscious reflection, then through a disciplined procedure such as psychoanalysis. Cognitivism, on the other hand, postulates processes that are mental but that cannot be brought to consciousness at all. (p49)
      • As Dennett puts it, “Although the new [cognitivist] theories abound with deliberately fanciful homunculus metaphors—subsystems like little people in the brain sending messages back and forth, asking for help, obeying and volunteering—the actual sub-systems are deemed to be unproblematic nonconscious bits of organic machinery, as utterly lacking in point of view or inner life as a kidney or kneecap.” In other words, the characterization of these “sub-personal” systems in “fanciful homunculus metaphors” is only provisional, for eventually all such metaphors are “discharged”—they are traded in for the storm of activity among such selfless processes as neural networks or AI data structures.
      • From Kabat-Zinn's intro to revised edition

        • At the time of the first edition and for many years afterwards, the MIT Press was headed up by the late Frank Urbanowski, a practitioner and student of Buddhist meditation himself, and a friend. Frank knew exactly what he was doing by publishing The Embodied Mind. It became the first and among the most profound and transformative of a whole family of books on cognitive science and the mind that he acquired.
          • Interesting bit of meta-gossip. The tentacles of the Buddhist conspiracy.