015-Representations Extent and Arbitrary
representations must exist either as emergent properties of a "mind", or they must exist independently... period.
take the number 2. it is a representation of quantity. where is it? it exists either independently or as a structure of neurons, connections, chemicals and signals taking place in the brain.
but what about a non biological intelligence or a biological intelligence that has a different structure for it's "mind"? where is the number 2? In an AI, the number 2 must be some construction of a neural network, or data set, or temporal hierarchy or cellular automata structure.
but our biological construction, the neural correlate which we take as the number 2 is not the same as the computer AI construction of it's number 2. so how could they be the same? the only way they can be the same is if the number 2 exists and human beings or an AI "apprehends" the number 2.
we create a structure, either a neuronal/chemical or silicon/software structure that is a representation of the number 2. and it's this representation of 2 which co-occurs with 2 itself. There is a representation of a representation, because 2 is a representation of a quantity and there is the physical instantiation of that representation (the neural structure for instance).
One may argue that this "apprehension" is emergent. That the representation 2 emerges from the neuronal/chemical brain structure. This may be true but then how does representation 2 emerge from silicon/software structure of an AI? How could two completely separate physical systems produce identical emergent objects without positing some sort of spooky shared substance between the two "minds" that "elicits" the representation of 2 from that ether?
Conversely, why should the most esoteric and difficult concepts be relegated to a select few individuals? Are their brains somehow different that they can apprehend these concepts? For instance, "zero" was once understood by only a very few people. Did "zero" emerge from an ether? Or was it created by extending mathematical representation making? Were the representations "discovered"?
As we see in our own experience and the history of knowledge, we acquire new representations in mathematics or in life by making new representations. We "discover" new representations by extending our representation making "boundaries".
Whether it is more correct to say that all representations exist and we "apprehend" or "discover" them with "mind" systems and thus experience them. Or whether representations emerge, as through effort and creativity, is not particularly important. what is important is that representations are experienced. The expansion of experience is the expansion of representation making. Questions about representations though show us that representations are not "emergent" properties in that the representations must exist to emerge. Otherwise, the representations only exist upon first emergence.
against Platonic Forms:
the letter A is a representation, but where is it? Does it have a Platonic Form? I don't think so. Instead, the letter A is recognized by association and representation. "A"s belong to a set we can express as the set of "A"s. But there is no nominal "A" that A's must match against. the set is loosely formed, and it's members are instances or expressions of that alphabetic idea. "A" may also belong to other letter sets.
we can express that A belongs to a set, but this is an expression. instead A holds a position in certain kinds of representations, and representation structures and that is one signifier that a letter is the letter A. Certain kinds of shapes would be another kind of signifier.
a signifier is a representation. "A";a shape. "A" in the form of a position in an alphabet. "A";a certain sound
arbitrary representation and extant representations.
a unicorn exists. the question is how do we experience a unicorn.
1, 2, 4, 8, unicorn, 32, 64
here the word unicorn seems "out of place". is it just a place holder, like a variable for the missing number. That is one way we can experience "unicorn".
the "unicorn" in the series of number symbols is incongruous. But incongruity is just one way to represent that word. it may be that in certain situations we look for incongruities and inconsistencies. the representational structures we use to manage representations are arbitrary.
Some may argue that utility is the reason for certain representational structures being used, and for doing representational selection. but utility itself is arbitrary.
all of the valuations we make about representations and how we order and structure them are arbitrary. Valuations may be direct results of assumptions or even neuronal/chemical structures or processes, but valuations are still arbitrary. When we elevate the status of certain representations above others, as if some representations were categorically superior, we are making a representational distinction, not a categorical one. And that elevation (a valuation) is arbitrary
representations are arbitrary. we find them contextually non-arbitrary (in evaluation). but the application of context to representations is itself arbitrary.