Mind, Brain, and Chaos

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Most work in cognitive science, whether computationally or biologically based, relies on the idea of ‘unconscious representations.’ I argue that there are no such things. In contrast, conscious states do represent objects outside of the agent. My second main thesis concerns the ‘explanatory gap’ between brain states and mental states. I propose an analogy to enhance our understanding of just what is required to close the explanatory gap; I argue that a new science is needed. There is third main thesis, related to the second. Of all the currently available approaches to the study of brain activity, only nonlinear dynamics, chaos theory in particular, has a unique characteristic sufficient to close the explanatory gap. Every other approach to the study of the brain appears doomed to failure in this regard. Identification of an additional feature of chaotic systems provides the framework for the explanation of another conundrum, mental causation. Furthermore, given the chaotic model of the dynamics of perception arising from Walter J. Freeman’s work, it appears that emotion plays a central role in perception. The application of chaos theory to brain activity dovetails with my first thesis, as nonlinear dynamics does not require state transitions from representations to representations, yet it has the resources to account for the representational nature of conscious states.


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