Volume 13, Issue 2, 2015

On Some Evolutionary Aspects of the Mind-Matter Problem
András Balázs, Department of Biological Physics, Eötvös Lórand University, Budapest, Hungary

Some tentative aspects of the mind-matter problem are approached from the point of view of biological evolution. The focal point is cognition, understood as biological information processing. It is suggested that cognition, properly defined, is a characteristic property of all living beings and, furthermore, is uniform, essentially of the same origin and mechanism, not only in a horizontal, but also in a vertical sense, i.e. bottom-up on the evolutional ladder.
Founded upon principles of animal and human ethology and computational cognition theory, a general concept of instinct-based cognition is introduced. It is proposed that "molecular (primary) level" and "higher (secondary) level" processes form a twofold hierarchical structure and have a common ontological root. Mind and matter are tentatively shown as corresponding evolutionarily to the two hierarchically interacting sides of an intrinsically two-level, internally unique recursive dynamics.

Von Neumann Minds: Intentional Automata
Jochen Szangolies, Institute for Theoretical Physics, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Germany

The problem of intentionality concerns the question of how mental states come to refer to, or be about, objects external to themselves. Representational attempts to account for this ubiquitous property of mental states lead to the following puzzle: if sensory data is used to construct a representation of the world within the mind, then how is this representation itself perceived? The implication of an infinite iteration of representation-and-perception is what constitutes the homunculus fallacy. I exhibit an analogous problem in the theory of self-reproducing systems, and discuss its solution due to the Hungarian mathematician John von Neumann. I then describe a structure capable of collapsing the infinite regress by fulfilling both the roles of representation and the representation's user.

Bergson, Representations, and the World
Pete Gunter, Department of Philosophy and Religion University of North Texas, Denton, USA

This article deals with Bergson's theory of perception. It consists of two parts. The first explores his notion of how, on his terms, the brain creates representations out of the contents of percepts (i.e., out of imagery). This is surprising, since he was supposed to have argued that the brain can in no way create representations of any sort. The second part anchors Bergson's concepts of imagery and representation in the world. It does this by examining his concept of "pure perception" and his idea of its descending series of durations - durations which on his terms approach the brevity of quantum rhythms. For Bergson perception does not begin with an isolated Cartesian ego, but from an all-encompassing primitive temporality.

Investigating the Depths of Consciousness
Terje Sparby, Bender Institute of Neuroimaging, Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany

This article explores the theory and practice of a contemplative phenomenology. In general, contemplative phenomenology investigates and describes the activity and effects of meditation. Drawing on William James, I suggest that meditation can be understood as involving "lowering the threshold" of consciousness. This includes, among other things, opening up access to unconscious processes. I exemplify an interdisciplinary approach to this idea by combining a recent remote associates test with first-person accounts. Based on further such accounts (historical and contemporary), I develop an outline of the forms of contemplative depth-experience. Taking a cue from Hegel, I argue that understanding deep contemplative experience may require a specific form of conceptuality characterized by synthetic universals. In contemplation this conceptuality can also manifest itself directly in the perceptual system, giving rise to an experience of transcending time and space. The results of this investigation provide an overview of the depths of contemplative experience primarily based on first-person accounts.

Last revision: 7 January 2016