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Ideas of Robert van Gulick, by Text

[American, fl. 1993, At Syracuse University.]

2006 Mirror Mirror - Is That All?
p.18 From the teleopragmatic perspective, life is largely an informational process
     Full Idea: From the teleopragmatic perspective, life itself is largely an informational process.
     From: Robert van Gulick (Mirror Mirror - Is That All? [2006])
     A reaction: From the cynical perspective a human is just 'blood and foul smell in a bag', but that may not give you whole story. The point here is that the informational view will cover both the genetic and the mental levels of human life. True but unilluminating?
Intro p.11 Is consciousness a type of self-awareness, or is being self-aware a way of being conscious?
     Full Idea: Is consciousness just a special type of self-awareness, or is being self-aware a special way of being conscious?
     From: Robert van Gulick (Mirror Mirror - Is That All? [2006], Intro)
     A reaction: This is a really good key question, which has hovered over the debate since Locke's definition of a person (as 'self-aware'). I take the self to be a mechanism of most brains, which is prior to consciousness. Maybe the two are inseparable.
žI p.12 Higher-order theories divide over whether the higher level involves thought or perception
     Full Idea: Higher-order thought (HOT) models treat metastates as thought-like, and higher-order perception (HOP) models regard them as at least quasi-perceptual and resulting from some form of inner monitoring or inner sense.
     From: Robert van Gulick (Mirror Mirror - Is That All? [2006], žI)
     A reaction: I would understand 'thought' to at least partially involve judgements. The HOT theory (Carruthers) seems to suit epistemological foundationalists, who want truth to enter on the ground floor. This pushes me towards the HOP model (Lycan) as more plausible.
žI p.13 Higher-order models reduce the problem of consciousness to intentionality
     Full Idea: Higher-order models would effectively reduce the problem of consciousness to that of intentionality.
     From: Robert van Gulick (Mirror Mirror - Is That All? [2006], žI)
     A reaction: This gives the bigger picture - that higher-order theories are the cutting edge of attempts to give a naturalistic, reductivist account of consciousness. That seems to be the only way to go, so we should encourage them in the enterprise.
žI.5 p.15 Maybe qualia only exist at the lower level, and a higher-level is needed for what-it-is-like
     Full Idea: Some higher-order theorists say we have qualitative but unconscious mental states of color or pain (qualia), but there is nothing it is like to be in such a state, which needs higher-order awareness. The meta-states are devoid of qualia.
     From: Robert van Gulick (Mirror Mirror - Is That All? [2006], žI.5)
     A reaction: He calls this the 'stranded qualia' problem. Clearly one begins to sharpen Ockham's Razor at this point, if the higher-level state isn't contributing something. I don't rule out unconscious qualia. The strength of a real pain is distorted in a dream.
žII p.18 In contrast with knowledge, the notion of understanding emphasizes practical engagement
     Full Idea: In contrast with standard notions of knowledge, the concept of understanding emphasizes the element of practical engagement from the outset.
     From: Robert van Gulick (Mirror Mirror - Is That All? [2006], žII)
     A reaction: This could be the very interesting germ of a huge revolution in our approach to epistemology, which I find rather appealing. Plato's desire that knowledge should have 'logos' seems to me in the same area. It sounds rather internalist, which is good.
žII p.21 Knowing-that is a much richer kind of knowing-how
     Full Idea: Knowing-that is a much richer kind of knowing-how.
     From: Robert van Gulick (Mirror Mirror - Is That All? [2006], žII)
     A reaction: This thought could rather rapidly revive the discredited notion of knowing-how. I think it might slot into an account of the mind in terms of levels, so that my internalist view of knowledge emerges at higher levels, built on more basic responses.
žIII p.23 Organisms understand their worlds better if they understand themselves
     Full Idea: Organisms come to better understand their worlds by coming to better understand themselves and the ways in which their own structures engage their worlds.
     From: Robert van Gulick (Mirror Mirror - Is That All? [2006], žIII)
     A reaction: Van Gulick is defending a higher-order theory of consciousness, but this strikes me as a good rationale for the target of philosophy, which has increasingly (since Descartes) focused on understanding our own minds.