Volume 15, Issue 2, 2017

Functorial Semantics for the Advancement of the Science of Cognition ?
Venkata Rayudu Posina, Consciousness Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies Bengaluru, India, Dhanjoo N. Ghista, University 2020 Foundation, Northborough MA, USA, and Sisir Roy, Consciousness Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru, India

Cognition involves physical stimulation, neural coding, mental conception, and conscious perception. Beyond the neural coding of physical stimuli, it is not clear how exactly these component processes constitute cognition. Within mathematical sciences, category theory provides tools such as category, functor, and adjointness, which are indispensable in the explication of the mathematical calculations involved in acquiring mathematical knowledge. More specifically, functorial semantics, in showing that theories and models can be construed as categories and functors, respectively, and in establishing the adjointness between abstraction (of theories) and interpretation (to obtain models), mathematically accounts for knowing-within-mathematics. Here we show that mathematical knowing recapitulates - in an elementary form - ordinary cognition. The process of going from particulars (physical stimuli) to their concrete models (conscious percepts) via abstract theories (mental concepts) and measured properties (neural coding) is common to both mathematical knowing and ordinary cognition. Our investigation of the similarity between knowing-within-mathematics and knowing-in-general leads us to make a case for the development of the basic science of cognition in terms of the functorial semantics of mathematical knowing.

Building Systems Capable of Consciousness
Pavel Kraikivski, Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, USA

The search for a minimal set of neural events sufficient for a specific conscious percept is often referred to as an essential and necessary step in revealing mechanisms underlying consciousness (Crick and Koch 1998, 2003, Chalmers 2000). In this work, I utilize the idea of a top-down approach to propose a hypothetical system with intrinsic and emerging properties that are isomorphic to a particular conscious percept. I elaborate a mathematical formulation for such a system, building it using interconnected processes. Each process receives an interpretation through mutual relationships with other processes that form its complement. I hypothesize that this "completeness property" is necessary and perhaps sufficient for a system to be capable of consciousness, and I propose a strategy to test this hypothesis. In a sense, this requirement for the system on the level of processes reflects the phenomenological observation that "something is determined as opposed to an other" as elaborated on in Hegel's Science of Logic (Hegel 1969). It is also in agreement with the law of the unity and conflict of opposites formulated in dialectical materialism (Engels 1940). I postulate that, if a system is capable of producing an interpretation of one process through the others that form its complement, in a steady-state manner preserving the dynamical map of mutual relationships between processes, then such an interpretation is equivalent to the first-person data or conscious experience. The mathematical formulation presented in this work provides a foundation for building user-free systems and also delivers a novel method for analyzing biological neural systems.

The Intrinsic Activity of the Brain and Its Relation to Levels and Disorders of Consciousness
Michele Farisco, Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics; University of Uppsala, Sweden, Steven Laureys, Coma Science Group, Cyclotron Research Centre University and University Hospital of Liège, Belgium and Katinka Evers, Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics, University of Uppsala, Sweden

Science and philosophy still lack an overarching theory of consciousness. We suggest that a further step toward it requires going beyond the view of the brain as input-output machine and focusing on its intrinsic activity, which may express itself in two distinct modalities, i.e. aware and unaware. We specically investigate the predisposition of the brain to evaluate and to model the world. These intrinsic activities of the brain retain a deep relation with consciousness. In fact the ability of the brain to evaluate and model the world can develop in two modalities, implicit or explicit, that correspond to what we usually refer to as the unconscious and consciousness, and both are multilevel configurations of the brain along a continuous and dynamic line. Starting from an empirical understanding of the brain as intrinsically active and plastic, we here distinguish between higher cognitive functions and basic phenomenal consciousness, suggesting that the latter might characterize the brain's intrinsic activity as such, even if at a very basic level. We proceed to explore possible impacts of the notion of intrinsic cerebral phenomenality on our understanding of consciousness and its disorders, particularly on the diagnosis and management of patients with disorders of consciousness.

Sport: The Interaction between Mind, Brain and Body
Jay Schulkin, Department of Neuroscience, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA

Sport is a spectacular window into evolution. The motor systems in primate brains tell the story of the evolutionary changes that underlie our physical capabilities. While we do not have to move to think, appraisal systems run through motor systems in the brain that aid adaptation and social interactions and underlie our participation in sports. Neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine, are also tied to the organization of actions and cognition. Predictive expectation and adjustments to changing events underlie human action. Sport is just one example of such relationship between cognition, movement and dopamine. Cephalic capability from the ordinary to the elite is anticipatory. Sport is just one example of a rather interesting and biologically important way in which to capture a mind in a body.

Nothwithstanding Bohr, the Reasons for QBism
Christopher A. Fuchs, Department of Physics, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA and Max- Planck-Institute for Quantum Optics, Garching, Germany

Without Niels Bohr, QBism would be nothing. But QBism is not Bohr. This paper attempts to show that, despite a popular misconception, QBism is no minor tweak to Bohr's interpretation of quantum mechanics. It is something quite distinct. Along the way, we lay out three tenets of QBism in some detail: (1) The Born Rule - the foundation of what quantum theory means for QBism - is a normative statement. It is about the decision-making behavior any individual agent should strive for; it is not a descriptive "law of nature" in the usual sense. (2) All probabilities, including all quantum "ontic hold" on the world. (3) Quantum measurement outcomes just are personal experiences for the agent gambling upon them. Particularly, quantum measurement outcomes are not , to paraphrase Bohr, instances of "irreversible amplification in devices whose design is communicable in common language suitably refined by the terminology of classical physics". Finally, an explicit comparison is given between QBism and Bohr with regard to three subjects: (a) the issue of the "detached observer" as it arose in a debate between Pauli and Bohr, (b) Bohr's reply to Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen, and (c) Bohr's mature notion of "quantum phenomena". At the end, we discuss how Bohr's notion of phenomena may have something to offer the philosophy of William James: a physics from which to further develop his vision of the world - call it an ontology if you will - in which "new being comes in local spots and patches".

Last revision: 8 January 2018