Conceptual Consciousness, As A Strategy For Survival

“One need not lose one's life to save reason nor one's reason to save life.”


      The study of consciousness is ‘sui generis’ in that it requires an unorthodox multidisciplinary approach to reach its innermost ontological characterization, if any is available. The scientific methodology of naturalism alone is grossly inadequate as a bridge to span across the explanatory abyss between the concrete brain and the abstract mind moieties, the continuous waveform and the discrete particulate of its surrounding EM fields, the phenomenal quale experienced and its associated conceptual belief (when present), the sense object intuition and its corresponding mental representation (the objective and the subjective), the finite brain and the infinite regressions / progressions it must encompass as it bridges yet another gap between the Planck and the cosmological dimension. Somewhere along such divergent pathways of research digging we are forced to throw away the heavy shovel, forego the classic inductive strategies and rely more on whatever introspective conceptual representation that best matches the empirical manifestations we must existentially live with daily with ‘self-evident’ experiences beyond sight, hearing or any other sensory resolution. Once the idea is trapped inside a spark of sudden inspiration we must imprison it within a suitable framework of reference to give it meaning and contextual fitting. More like finding the right tonal blend in the piano arpeggio than the right mathematical algorithm.

We have spent many, many hours weaving a special consciousness model garment hoping to accommodate a best fit for the different fabrics found inside connectionist, cognitive, quantum mechanical, informational, neuro-science and neuro-philosophical models. But the resulting patchwork is far from being smooth and attractive as it eludes a complete  accommodation of  the individualized fabric root premises. Consciousness is probably the most complicated subject ever studied requiring incursions into and across the domains of the various multidisciplinary persuasions.

       For practical reasons each discipline follows its standard operating procedures and vies for academic media time with their truncated views of cosmos with greater or lesser success. Fortunately analytic philosophy, by escaping the rigor of scientific methodology -designed to deal exclusively with observable natural phenomena-, can provide a much broader frame of reference synthesis as long as it roots its primitive sources of information on empirical data, reduces its conclusions to sentential / symbolic logical relations and leaves the rest to metaphysical logic considerations including the logical possibility of there being an intelligent design efficient cause lurking behind.

       We have analyzed and discussed in previous accounts of the ‘consciousness’ conundrum the view from the different disciplines as they fuel our own conceptual model according to which it should provide a ‘raison de étre’ for consciousness as the unifying element between the individual, his biology, his psyche and his social environment; that which harmonizes his inherited genetic past with his acquired social contours as he strives for biological and reproductive survival while forging in the process a viable and successful social and spiritual (moral / ethical) future. The unifying syncretism we call consciousness, the specific tool driving the process we call language, whether in the form of inherited DNA-coded survival codelets in the amygdaloidal organ, an evolving generic grammar or an acquired hippocampal social memory, all housed inside a ‘proto-linguistic organ’ (plo) along the shores of the perisylvian fissure.

Thus conceived, we have selected for further analysis those few essential unifying concepts required for a full comprehensive view of ‘what is it really like to be’ in a conceptual state of consciousness, the uniqueness of intensionality and the role language plays in its mental representation. We hope these insights complement and supplement previous discussions of this complex subject in other publications.


        We should start by gaining a better perspective about the fundamental difference between human ‘self-consciousness’ (conscious awareness of one's own mental states where subjects introspectively become fully aware of being in them) and plain ‘awareness’ or phenomenal consciousness where subjects are in a sensory state with a distinctive qualitative or sense-phenomenal character (see also Block, 1995). Consequently, the experience of a ‘qualia’ state (the feeling of what it is like for the subject to be in a particular mental state) will now have to be qualified to distinguish between a sense-phenomenal (e.g., color) or a conceptual (e.g., desire, belief) mental state.

The feeling of ‘what it is like’ may well describe a Dretske-Tye ‘property’ not identical (in the Leibnitz sense) with the quale content representation. This brings in the distinct possibility that qualia may originate subconsciously where the feeling of ‘what it is like’ to be in a given state is an on-line external (environmental) or internal (e.g., dream)  state NOT reportable unless the content / context presents novel features requiring previous amygdaloid screening for its survival impact. At this point a semantic element codelet is unconsciously added off-line making it possible for such state to be accessed now by higher level consumer systems (e.g., language) bringing it to a conscious level of awareness in the process, i.e., it now includes an introspective component and is reportable. Lycan hinted in 1996 that qualia can fail to be conscious and can occur without its being noticed by its subject. The temporal transition from the subconscious ineffable quale state to a conscious state articulated in ones public natural language -whether expressed or not (e.g., inner speech)- excludes unconscious mental states. See also Carruthers, 2000. This new dissection of the ‘qualic’ experience troubles the physicalist’s view of mental representations. Sometimes the temporal sequence of events is reversed as when the conceptual precedes the phenomenal event. Like in all scientific investigations, we have a biased framework view of reality inside which future empirical observations are selected for their fitness. The degree of fitness reinforces our bias or rejects it altogether. Interestingly, the correspondence judgment is not altogether objective. We choose to believe, adopt and interpret reality according to deep-seated species survival imperatives as modified by on-going social experiences. Color-blind Mary, Jackson’s conceptual color expert character, will have preconceived notions (conceptual qualia?) about colors which will direct (bias) her interpretation of subsequent phenomenal color events. Once cured from her color blindness, her new sense-phenomenal mental representation of color will be private and only the newly modified earlier conceptual representation becomes a conscious reportable public fact. In our view Mary  has not learned a new ‘fact’ about the color entity, but has only acquired a new, introspective dimension or first-person way of representing a previous third person version that she already had learned in its neuroscientific conceptual guise. To the chagrin of physicalist high priests some aspects of the human mind remain private, subjective, or as intrinsic perspective facts, occasionally finding their expression only in art form. See also Jackson, 1982.

As we predicted early on we may need two distinct representational theories of the conscious experience, one for third person, higher-order, reportable conscious awareness and a substantially different one for first person introspective ineffable (except in art form) phenomenal experience. Unlike ‘quasi-perceptual’ memory retrievals, unconscious mental states remain un-fathomable. A representational theory attempting to explain all psychological states and processes in terms of mental representations must encompass both of these aspects and seems only possible, thus far, from the perspective of a dualistic view of consciousness.

A mental or psychological state (s) describes the appropriate relation between an agent (a) and an appropriate mental representation (r) where r = mental object (or symbol) with semantic properties. The psychologic state (s) may be describing either an old off-line propositional attitude (e.g., desire, belief) or an on-line sensory experience (e.g., red apple) appropriately related to a mental representation (r). President Bush (a) believes (s) that WMD will be found inside Irak based on his memory (r1) of older aerial photographs or fresh ones before his eyes (r2) where either one constitutes a mental object with semantic properties. One leading theory conceives the brain as a special computing device processing the relations between various mental representations according to rules-governed sequences of such ‘cognitive states’. What if a network distributed state can not be ‘linearized’ into a sequence? Stay tuned.

Insofar as the expressions of natural language (including non-symbolic and body language) may adequately represent the mental state (bps equilibrium) of their users, an analysis of their semantic content provides a further analytical insight into their mental object representation and its relation to consciousness. For this approach to be credible one must objectively accept that, unlike natural phenomena, the most important attribute of the mind is its power to be about, stand for, or represent things, properties or states of affairs, i.e., its activity is being directed towards entities external to itself, whether the subject’s body proper (b), psychic state (p) or social milieu (s). For a mental object representation to have semantic properties is to affirm that it stands for and speaks for the subjects they are related to. It may be about or true / false of this or that object. If President Bush is thinking about Irak and believes that WMD will be found there, if found, the thought is true. The mental representation of the aerial photograph (phenomenal consciousness) is tokened (accesed by an appropriate consumer system) to constitute a sequential or distributed progression culminating in a thought. In our view when the president first articulates (inner speech) his belief about WMD, natural language substitutes the mental representation and when tokened a thought is co-generated. Martin’s 1988 claim that thought is possible without language may refer to other expressive forms (visual art, dance, etc.) not to natural languages. It is not clear whether non-linguistic mental representations are proper subjects for a “two factor” distinction between their extrinsic (truth, truth conditions, reference) and intrinsic (properties, propositions) content, so characteristic of linguistic expressions; this equation has not been worked out. Mental representations may also include expressions of non-verbal conscious states in a way drawings, paintings or photographs do in art galleries when they resemble  that which they represent internally. This expanded view of ‘language’ communication needs further analysis of the distinctions between phenomenal, conceptual and other forms of expression and mental representation, especially how phenomenal properties are related to their representational content. It seems like symbolic representations can not dispense with the need for the equivalent representation of phenomenal properties linearly or some other viable way. See Tye, 2000 and Pylyshyn, 1981. This author takes all empirical facts as representable and explained as the logical sentences (discursive, or propositional representations) and cognitive processes defined over them. See Fodor’s language of thought hypothesis. Like cognitive processes most mental representations have hybrid phenomenal (e.g., loud, dark, shiny) and discursive elements, the former depending on continuously varying analog, the latter on discrete digital (e.g., true/false, dead / alive) modes of representation.

The reader may well ask, and how do mental representations acquire their semantic properties, i.e., how is their meaningful content determined? Two leading theories about ‘information’ and ‘function’ try to explain how. Information theory will try to explain how a mental state (m) of a given object (o) contains information in representation of object (o’) in state (m’) iff the latter is a proximate cause of the former. See Fodor, 1990. It should be clear at this point that propositional attitudes can not be adequately explained by this theory, the direction of the causality vector can not be determined (‘disjunction problem’), unless we invoke dualism, e.g., how can a belief state be objectively represented? Furthermore, how can we generate false thoughts where causal relations exist between mental states and situations they objectively do not represent? Can the president objectively think of WMD from satellite views of similar objects they do not in fact represent? But if the causal relation defining content does not admit of any other interpretation (under the circumstances), there will still be a causal, albeit ‘informational’ relation available to be tokened for a mental representation according to the Asymmetric Dependency Theory. Teleologists assume that natural / artificial selection processes -exemplified by evolution or learning experiences respectively- will take care of eliminating all related representational options not determining content. For the ‘functionalists’, as long as the content of a representation can be related causally, logically or by computation to other mental existing representations, a mental content can be determined partially or ‘in toto’. Representations of external states of affairs remains un-explained. Some scholars, negating the possibility of such content in their mental representations, favor solipsism. In our bps model we have made room for both internal and external, genetical and acquired states to be incorporated. We have argued elsewhere our case for an internalist, functional alternative based on compositionality arguments. See also Fodor, 1996. Cognitive scientists are heavily invested in the premise that the content of representational states are mental states over which their causal / logical explanations quantify over. We have tried to explain how factors extrinsic to mental representational content (social) become incorporated (intrinsic), its causal efficacy emerging therefrom. Arguably, those social factors with survival value for the species can eventually (time scale?) become genetically incorporated and thus inheritable. Our lab demonstrations in this respect have consistently failed in the past. See Stich, 1983. The transition extrinsic à intrinsic becomes the transition of a particular content à general proto-content and comes at a price when its original meaning is individualized into its possessor’s syntactic structure and thus becomes an ineffable component of his conceptual consciousness strategy for survival, a context-dependant linguistic (broad concept) guideline for social success. We have thus far unsuccessfully tried to formulate a mechanism of incorporation.

Stich is the principal proponent of a Syntactic Theory of the Mind stressing only on the formal properties of the objects that mental states are relations to. Among cognitive scientists in general focus on the mental content per se is more important and mental processes are considered manipulations (rule-governed sequences) of the semantic-laden content of symbols. As we can see there exist various tiers of complexity that need to be conceptually isolated before trying to apply unifying principles of coherence. Before nature designed the unifying monoglyceride bi-functional molecule it had to be first appraised of the particularities of the two hydrophobic / hydrophilic environmental layers it must bridge. BPS syncretic poly-functional model brings together into a coherent whole relevant unifying principles, meanwhile we must continue with the challenging differential digging and labeling.

       We can now assign the phenomenal state a first order category regardless of whether it originates on-line (sense intuition) or off line (memory) and regardless of whether it is or can become a conscious state. As mentioned earlier unconscious states (e.g., proto-linguistic function) can not be the object of a higher order ‘perception’ or thought. Thus, phenomenal representations may be located in analog phenomenal or digitized cognitive fields for accesibility. See also representations of "inner sense" or "higher-order perception" (HOP) theory, Lycan, 1996, and the "higher-order thought" (HOT), Carruthers, 2000. HOP requires specific reticular activation via thalamo-cortical loops, the latter  HOT theory only requires having a thought about the first-order state initiating the action. We believe a HOP theory is not necessary as long as the original analog phenomenal code is accessible to be incorporated into higher order consumer systems leading to a thought generation. This way we hope to solve the special problem about mental states having an intensional / intentional content (attributed or directed to external objects). More on this important topic below. See Davidson, 1987. Considering the fact that phenomenal analog representations are more fine-grained than their digital content equivalent counterpart we may no longer have to worry much about the Computational / Cognitive Overload pointed out by Carruthers when processing the richness of a person's conscious experience at a given time, the phenomenal component causal efficiency with respect to the conceptual component (or viceverse) need not require a one to one analog to digital transduction to generate an adaptive solution. A painting (analog) is worth a million words (digital). This view is consistent with our suspicion that complex conceptual experiences are limited to humans in direct proportion to their level of brain maturation.

       We need to put both phenomenal and conceptual aspects in focus at the risk of creating three intellectual armies, first the physicalist whose exclusive commitment to the empirical creates in humans the false illusion of a reliable existential accomplishment, a pragmatic short-sighted solution that smacks of a neo-behavioristic functionalism at best. Their conceptual horse blinders sets them in a mental state of Thomistic denial, ‘to see is to believe’. On the other extreme the idealists, whose exaggerated distrust for empirical sense-phenomenal data as misrepresenting the Kantian ‘thing in itself’ ontology, create a surrealistic view of existence in the creation of abstract conceptual schemes bearing no relation to the solution of the problematic of real human existence. Our moderate view adopts the viable best of the two extremes as it tries to tow the line that historic man is the measure of all things, in objective existence or not. To link different manifold entities at least functionally is a unifying compromise between the two extremes.

       It is precisely the uncompromising resolve of physicalists to mold all qualia into an exclusive materialistic framework that has given rise to an incomplete representational theory according to which all qualia are actually intentional contents, represented properties of represented objects. See Dretske, 1995. However the representation of sensible properties, of the on-line or off-line variety, is "non-conceptual" in that its content, if ever conscious, may not be ever translatable into the subject's natural language. This means that qualia representations require further differentiations beside functional or teleologic considerations. See Tye, 1995. A representational claim that is unable to identify its ontological character (representational features) has to admit the possibility of a dualism of the substance or property varieties. See Chalmers, 1996. To specify it in terms of some functionalism within the confines of materialism begs the question because only real (in ontological essence or epistemological existence), representable objects have functions. The options are not many, either we identify intrinsic brain abilities to distinguish between qualia or admit that the brain may only establish relationships between them, and this requires a representation in the materialistic persuasion. So far we have been only able to identify qualia with the properties of that brain representation without much ado with ‘how’ it got  represented, not to mention the ‘what’ represented. Block, in his ‘inverted earth’ argument concludes that qualia are not intentional contents.  We have elsewhere discussed at length the debate between the internalist and externalist positions in this respect by using an argument of ‘compositionality’ first introduced by Fodor. In the argument that follows we will try to bring the ‘representation’ issue in the context of both intentionality and intensionality. In so doing we hope to demonstrate the necessity of metaphysical arguments to get a more comprehensive view of mental states and consciousness. To reject them is to live in denial of self-evident existential ‘facts’ ontologically un-defined.

        There are two important aspects about mental states we would like to re-state again, their content (object) is directed to (about) other objects / events (goal, purpose, intentionality) different from themselves. It defines a specific state of mind playing a distinctive causal role in human adaptive responses. The intended action may either be directed against specific, singular spatio-temporal (intensional) sense objects, their properties or their general universal abstractions thereof (extensional), e.g., a given nuclear bomb as opposed to any WMD. The president’s belief has intentionality in that it is ‘about’ a specific WMD, e.g., a nuclear bomb object and the property of its geographical location inside Iraq’s territory. A belief about an on-line sense object is a special attitude that can be identified by its propositional content and is equivalent, if proved, to the assertion that “the president knows”. This is to be distinguished from attitudes like  “he wishes, fears, etc.” and their attendant uncertainties.

When directed to specific sense objects the intended action (intentionality), whether in act or potency, generates an associated but different state of mind, a ‘qualic’ state describing, affirming  how the actor ‘feels’ about the intended action. The President may hope, fear, desire, judge or believes that the aerial photographs constitute reliable evidence to justify an invasion of Iraq. We find this analysis cumbersome when in reality the important point is the remarkable fact that ‘intentionality’ does not need to be directed at a sense-phenomenal object but it may also include inexistent entities independent of the act itself. In our discussion context the affirmation or denial of affective states of love, hate, desire can be directed to inexistents, something a physical phenomenon can’t boast about. If we stretch the argument a little we can see that the mental state of an actor exhibits a ‘relation’ to its target object / event but only the actor needs to exist in the classical sense. In the metaphysical sense both related things need to ‘exist’ to be related and that relation must also include one of causality regardless of the ontological definition of either participant in the relation. Unless there existed a possibility of verification like in the president’s belief attitude, B. Russell would have never considered a remote relation like “desires” or “fears” as ‘disguised’ logic.

       Significantly, words and sentences of natural languages exhibit both extensionality and intensionality but ‘names’ only represent abbreviated definite descriptions. Concorde is not a name but an abbreviated but definite disguised description of an airplane. When a name like Atlantis stands for an inexistent submerged city, the indefinite description constitutes the ‘reality’ of a true (epistemological) but inexistent (ontological) belief. This view is useful in establishing a distinction between the intentionality of singular thoughts and the intentionality of general thoughts as noted above. See Bertrand Russell. In the natural sciences abstract objects are deemed incapable of exemplifying the properties they encode and are considered inexistent in time and space domain. Besides the classical mental states, sentences in natural languages are meaningful non-mental entities (intensionality) that can also be directed at things other than themselves (intentionality) some of which are non-existent in time and space. See Quine, 1960. Here also linguistic meaning is the defining criterion of an intention. But the ongoing linguistic debate is whether that meaning is intrinsic or acquired from their user’s thoughts and feelings. In our 'bps' model  the proto-linguistic organ (plo) blends the primitive original intensionality derived from the syntacto-semantic properties of the mental symbols (deep grammar?) with their socially acquired equivalents to communicate.  Whereas the context of the communication may exhibit ‘extensionality’ e.g., a belief may be directed (extended) to two or more different co-referential terms that may substitute for each other, like an aerial photo of or a real deposit of anthrax toxin, it may not exhibit ‘intensionality’ because to state that the president may believe one or the other interchangeably is not necessarily a true statement. In this case not all statements of intentionality are intensional and the latter may NOT be a criterion of the former unless we are referring to a ‘state of knowledge’ (the real anthrax deposit) not a belief state (based on an aerial photo), a major problem among studious of consciousness, often confusing one state with the other, especially some quantum mechanical dreamers who consider QM to be exclusively defined within a physicalist ontology! The intentional states of or about things other than themselves implies, in our opinion, to have semantic properties as well, and semantic features still resist being integrated into the natural order. The most important objection a physicalist may have about non-mental things is their inability to manifest intentionality. Our flat answer still is, language can!, after all, states of knowledge whether inherited or acquired, are states of intentionality! We can also device an instrument or create a computer program endowed with properties able to respond covariantly (nomically, in name only, not real) with some other environmental property; if it carries information ‘it’ has intentionality providing you don’t confuse the design (‘it’) with its designer and animate the computer with consciousness J as some AI specialists do! Same will apply to the linguistic distinction between an event and a report of the same event (nomicity), their levels of intensionality may not necessarily match. A natural language, because of its primitive, inherited, original semantics and intentionality component, argues a better case of co-causality than the AI robot. In this respect we may argue a case for the body proper biological functions and their homeostatic intentionality in the context of a ‘teleosemantic’ approach. In our original model several years ago we had tried to explain how the intensionality of minds relates to the intentionality of bps homeostasis only to discover the need to postulate metaphysical arguments to explain it adequately, as we continue now to justify the duality of the psychic (P) component as it coordinates the psyche à world, world à psyche interactivity where language [world (s)ßLà psyche (p) ßL’àbody (b)] plays the leading role of integration. L=natural language communicating a bi-directional state of affairs & L’=genetic language communicating a state of biological homeostasis      & co-generating non-propositional attitudes. See also Milliken, 2000. Most such ‘teleosemantic’ models rest on naturalistic evolutionary selection processes which are unavoidably design (intelligent?) processes. Darwinian selection processes are, in our view, non-intentional where no intentional agent has been identified to sort out the best adapted for survival. See teleological theories of mental content and teleological notions in biology. We find amusing that QM theorists live comfortably with so many ontologically undefined epiphenomenal concepts yet balk at the idea that intentionality may also be so characterized because in their bias no such mental state can ever be causally efficacious in virtue of its intentional content! In other words, our social behavior may never be causally explained by our intentions, beliefs and desires!! In our view, our natural language amalgamates the primeval semantics of biological survival with the changing social scenery as reflected in the transitive syntactic structure that evolves to remain causally efficacious. The crucial test for the reality of a mental property is that its proximal causal efficacy can be demonstrated not that it must be ontologically defined as it supervenes on the brain’s strata. Our solution is to blend Millikan’s phylogenetic into Dretske’s ontogenetic evolution as deterministic forces to be channeled and steered into successful pathways by the exercise of a free will, best illustrated by our choice of learning experiences in the process, an interplay between phenomenal sentient survival and sapient conceptual success strategies as we have argued all along. See also Millikan, 2000 & Dretske, 1995.

The phenomenally sentient state should not be construed as ‘de facto’ lacking cognitive or intellectual sophistication as any good piano improvisation artist can tell you, it may be more than just sensations, an intuitive form of learning and inferential capacity of a continuous holistic type different from natural language expressions which aims at ‘elevating’ the sensation to a discrete conceptual form more amenable to combinatorial creative permutations, like the piano critique rendition of the improvisation event in the newspaper. The transition from a global landscape inspiration to a village digitized report hoping to evoke a sentient feeling for the original tonal landscape in the reader.

        According to our moderate view there need not be a fundamental distinction between a phenomenal and a conceptual mental representation either in that both have to live with the fact of the brain’s layered network of interconnected neurons from neuro-histological data. The question of how a distributed type of processing can handle massive parallel sequences may be harmonized by considering one full cycle of recursive internodal processing as mathematically reducible to a linear sequence for computational purposes making them susceptible to compositional and semantic evaluation. Likewise, the distributive pattern generating an evolving weight value for internodal connections in the connectionist model can be linearized to make them susceptible to be transformed into a hypothesis formation and testing protocol for classical information processing. We may even consider the brain as a Brownian motor engine coupled to a ratchet mechanism transforming its distributed random / chaotic activity into a non-random sequence as Feynman demonstrated. See Scientific American, July 2001. More recently random electrostatic vibration fields have been shown to be converted to energy. See Dr. Oscar Mur, MIT library files. Connectionist networks are trained up by repeated random exposures to objects it can learn to distinguish and those statistically more frequently traveled get selected to become the favored internodal pathway of information transmission. Once the sequence transformation is achieved the phenomenal, asymmetric may now be processed along classical sentential / symbolic logic paradigmatic protocols, those characteristic of conceptual activity.

       We can not overemphasize more the importance of the transition from the sentient phenomenal à sapient conceptual, when present, which in our 'bps' model is associated with self-consciousness, as either a cause or effect but always involving language (including art & other non verbal forms). That makes language and its correlative self-consciousness event one exclusively human in nature, the richness of the sense-phenomental consciousness (when present) would be a function of the degree of linguistic sophistication developed, as observed in newborn and successive stages of maturation. Remember, a sense-phenomenal event may not require a concurrent related introspection, as when we drive down the curvy road while explaining a computation in the cell phone. Reflexivity is a “sine qua non” for conceptual consciousness not necessarily so for the sense-phenomenal variety, like the driving event described that we rather call “sub-conscious awareness”. Linguistic processing preceding a verbal / non-verbal report is unconscious, never accessible for integration into a conscious experience.

Summary and Conclusions.

We had asked how may a natural language assimilate its possessor into society. More often than not it is more of a  personal success rather than a survival strategy. However, at stake is no less than the very survival of modern human species. What preceded was not a sociological or psycho-linguistic argumentation based on observable behavioral data. As in preceding chapters & publications we have tried to look beyond that which the classical naturalistic methodology of investigation can possibly resolve because of its limited tools and resolution potential. This is not to be construed as a poetic license to feed our very important species yearn for non-rational beauty for we have tried to stay very close to empirical data and wander no further than metaphysical logic speculation allows. Our incomplete conclusions in this respect are based in our conviction that the syntacto-semantic structure of natural language expressions (including non-verbal) derives from the mental / psychic state of their users. An analysis of ‘propositional attitudes’, an expression used to characterize the psychic state of a subject (her beliefs, desires, fears, doubts, etc.), provides a reliable predictor of her social behavior as determined by the content and manifestation of the relevant mental representations, if any can be identified. Thus, we limited our philosophical analysis to its content and its representation as it relates to linguistic relevance in their genesis. This led to further limit our scrutiny to phenomenal (sense and memory variety) and conceptual elements. This led in turn to converge on the most important explanations in neuroscience and neurophilosophy, ‘intentionality’ and ‘intensionality’. Space limitations assumed some familiarity of the reader with these complex abstractions and their special lingo.

As can be expected, this multidisciplinary effort brings multiple views to bear on every aspect of the subject and perhaps our greatest contribution has been to bring each and every point of discrepancy into focus and trying to develop bifunctional criteriae to bridge the differences across domains by selecting those details that best fit the experimental data, the logic analysis or both. This effort is seen at all levels in the development of the bio-psycho-social 'bps' model of consciousness. An instance would be trying to reconcile Stitch’s syntactic with Fodor’s semantic theory of mind by emphasizing the common denominator between the intrinsic genetic and the extrinsic social memory factors, both represented in the mental content and subject to computational processing of the syntacto-semantic evaluable symbols they stand for. This may be possible regardless of one’s bias as to what kind of computer the brain architecture may be reduced to. It will all depend on how successfully will mental representations yield to symbolic structuration (classic view) or framed as distributed network internodal patterns (connectionist view). We have argued that conceptual and phenomenal aspects of the conscious experience need both modes of processing. From the finite source of primitive (intrinsic) and acquired (extrinsic) representational states (symbols) of ‘classicists’ an infinity of complex psychic states may be recursively generated in the distributive network of the ‘connectionists’, according to ‘parsing’ rules. Both language and thought semantic structure (content & structure configuration) follow compositional rules. What is needed is to accommodate the dynamic character of those mental state variables and parameters where these information units are not reduced to symbols for computational purposes. For these cases, e.g., analog, sense phenomenal on-line representations (like the piano improvisations), a discursive / propositional language-symbolic representation ‘resembling’ the dynamic original (journalist’s account or ‘language of thought’) may have to do.

End of Chapter 21