Friday, 20 November 2015


In my long examination of the properties and structures of language, I have come to realize that a better analogy for the human brain might be that of a resonance chamber that registers electro-chemical activity along neural networks rather than molecular vibrations in the air.

Much like McLuhan's "medium is the message", this resonance chamber determines what it registers and conveys as meaningful. This McLuhanian feature, though, is of a higher dimension in that its adaptive qualities and general plasticity makes it dynamic and interactive more like an equation than a linguistic expression. In other words, this resonance chamber analogy allows such possibilities as music, poetry, political ideas, philosophy, etc. to be generated as meaningful patterns by the simple virtue that a self-same neuron (or, junction) has the capacity to serve a certain function for one dendrite and another, entirely different function for another dendrite that are attached to it.

There are notions of 'providence' and 'regulation' and 'intent' built into the system—ie, our sense of self goes hand-in-hand with the notion of self-preservation. These are necessary features because the resonance chamber is a two-way; external and internal stimuli interact to give us impressions that in turn emit a response of some kind. Purely internal stimulation would generate meaningful patterns by the very act of reflection: music, poetry, philosophy, or "self-narratives" (umwelts?)—these are emotional and/or psychological states that give further "evidence" of our agency and self.

My love of music (and I say "my love of") is that not only do I appreciate music created by others but I even attempt my own hand in music and derive great satisfaction from both. This process trains the "ear" to be able to mentally and intellectually cohere and/or deconstruct sounds rather like an ability to draw or appreciate visual art.

There is a mathematical idea or process called, "zero-knowledge proof" that allows all this creative process to take place seemingly without conscious effort. Ivars Peterson explains it like this:

The idea, a product of several excitedly interacting groups of computer scientists and mathematicians in the United States, Canada, and Israel, developed quickly. Initially, Shafi Goldwasser, Silvio Mical, and Charles Rackoff, motivated by theoretical questions concerning the efficiency and reliability of computer algorithms , worked out that it is possible to convey that a theorem is proved without having to provide details of the proof itself.
Manuel Blum extended the scheme to cover any mathematical theorem.
Blum's scheme is interactive. It features a dialog between the prover, who has found a proof for a theorem, and a skeptical verifier. The verifier can ask a special type of question that requires an equivalent of a yes-or-no answer.
An example from graph theory shows how the scheme works. Any network of points, or nodes, connected by lines, or edges, is called a graph...The prover has found a continuous path along the connecting links that passes only once through each of the 11 points on a graph and returns to where it started. This special type of path is called a Hamiltonian cycle.
Significantly, any mathematical theorem can be converted into a graph in such a way that if the theorem has a proof, then the graph has a Hamiltonian cycle. (Ivars Peterson, The Mathematical Tourist: snapshots of modern mathematics, 1988, p. 214-216)

Could consciousness (ie, us!) be a series/sequences of Hamiltonian cycles in a resonance chamber? The "prover-verifier" could be a particular, idiosyncratic constellation unique to each individual, each emotional/psychological state/impression, each individual instance of a completed cycle.


No comments:

Post a Comment