The Spread Mind

This is a podcast interview with Dr. Riccardo Manzotti whose hypothesis is that of consciousness being not contained inside our brains but being extended out into the world all around us. It is in line with other notions of the extended mind, opposing the conventional view of Western philosophy that consciousness is a simulation of reality playing itself out inside our heads. Dr. Manzotti proposes the radical idea of an identity between mind and object, each object being the true component of consciousness as it is experienced by us. It is a thesis worth time considering if you have an hour. In the very least it opens us to a more comprehensive worldview where we are one with our world and inherently inclusive of others and other things in our very being.
Manzotti has also been a topic in here before: Consciousness: Where Are Words? (interview with Riccardo Manzotti)

It's one of those hypotheses that's interesting even if it's wrong, because he's essentially making a herculean effort to explain and map how commonsense realism could even be possible.

The Spread Mind (slide-show)

Memories seem to be treated as delayed perceptions; or relationships to the original objects in the past that are still circulating "live" in the brain to be contingently presented again. Thoughts are apparently creative combinations of those. If "appearance is reality", then the original objects themselves should as much be manifestations as the technically described abstractions of the physicist (rational objects). But they conform to coordinates in space and time (physical framework; physical). Arguably residents of an "objective experience" rather than subjective experience. -->

It's not the first time that phenomena were externalized with respect to the brain and (deceptively or erroneously?) associated with materialism or physicalism rather than traditional mental category or products of neural activity. In panphenomenalism, mind itself was a bundle of impressions rather than being fundamental (as in Berkeley's immaterialism or even one-half of Descartes' dualism).

Edward S. Reed: "Matter for Huxley was just what it was for Mach or Hertz: a set of phenomenal observations made by scientists. It is thus remarkable but true that the most reviled "materialists" of the 1880s--Huxley, Tyndall, and Clifford--were all phenomenalists of sort or another and not materialists at all. The positivist impulse gave new life to a variety of panphenomenalism..."

Panphenomenalism: David Hume (1711-1776) formulated the theory of Panphenomenalism [retrospectively labeled as such]. He denied the existence of all ultimate reality (metaphysical reality), accepting as valid data only those things experienced as sense impressions; in other words, he asserted that existence is limited to phenomena, which are objects, not of reason, but of experience. By rejecting the idea of cause and soul as substances, he eliminated the entire problem of interaction. Hume concluded that events depend upon merely repetitious or sequential activities; that nothing in the universe is ever created, or caused to act, by anything else; and that reality consists only of a series of phenomena appearing in a temporal order. Ideas of the Great Philosophers; p. 107 - 108; by William S. Sahakian, Mabel Lewis Sahakian (1966)

Manzotti brings back causal relationships, however. "All our experience is made of physical things that have had some causal relationship with our bodies."

Tim Parks: "I can see we’re not going to get very far with this. Your general prediction is that every experience will be traceable back to an actual physical property in the world. But when it comes to fleeting feelings and intuitions, any such tracing back becomes extremely complicated."
I had a few problems with Manzotti's thesis. I didn't really buy into his view of memory as delayed communication a la Claude Shannon. I also wondered where he thinks ideas and principles and concepts dwell if not in the invisible mind. It struck me later that his thesis would fare better if it just eliminated consciousness altogether and explained mind as Being in the world as Heidegger did. Heidegger was also a panphenomenalist and saw all experience as manifestations of Being. Heidegger was also big on language as a key factor in the manifestation of Being. Language for Manzotti would no doubt be an external system of more objects that we interface with in our interaction with the world. How language gets stored in our brains would likely be a problem for him though since for him the brain doesn't store anything.

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