A technician explains measurements whilst a scientist explains observations.

The form of objects


When I have an object such as these six dots    ....:   in my experience I am immediately tempted to analyse this phenomenon by modelling how information from the dots could be transferred elsewhere.  In other words I could make up a theory about the dots based upon my understanding of how material objects, such as information, are transferred from place to place. If I did this I would be "jumping the gun", as will be evident from the meditation below, the dots in experience are not simple material objects. The purpose of this meditation is to describe objects within experience and only then to develop hypotheses about these objects.

On close inspection the dots in my experience are a combination of a viewing point, angular separations and the individual objects "."

The experience containing the dots is a geometrical form containing the viewing point and the dots. It is not the dots alone.  To attempt to explain the experience containing the dots purely in terms of the dots themselves would be absurd because the dots are not the experience.



There are six dots on the screen in my experience. If I use one eye the dots are still there, almost unchanged.

I have a viewing point that is apparently separate from the dots. The dots make an acute angle at the viewing point. I can tell there is a viewing point because if I move a drinking straw between the dots and my eye a dot can be seen along the centre hole of the straw and I also notice that the angular displacement of the dots changes with the separation of my eye from the screen.

The dots by themselves are not the dots in my experience. They only exist in my experience if my eye is aligned in their direction and my eyelids are open. The dots are a combination of an open eye, a viewing point, an angular displacement (for separation) and individual objects "." on the screen in my experience.

The dots are also directed  from the screen to the viewing point in experience. This is most apparent if I consider the letter "b" on the screen. From the reverse the letter appears as "d", which is a different entity entirely.  If I cut out the outline of a "b" from a sheet of paper I could flip it over to make a "d" but this is not the case in my experience containing the "b" now. The "b" has a direction defined by the position of the viewing point. The dots are subject to the same constraint, they would appear as :.... from behind.

The directedness of the dots (their particular form) appears to occur because I am upright and have a left and right relative to this perpendicular.  It is also a product of having a viewing point, inside a point there is no form so the only version of the dots is the one in-front of the viewing point. The dots plus the geometry of the view is a single object and there is no transfer elsewhere. This differs from, say the dots as a 2D image on a transparency - the transparency can be copied to another transparency and this can be viewed or processed from either side. My view is not like that, if the dots are considered alone, outside of the view, they lose their directedness and if they are considered to flow into the viewing point they lose their form. At no time do the dots move into the viewing point.  Only the totality of dots, viewing point and angular separations is the experience.

The dots are each continuously within my experience and so are simultaneous.  If I move my head the angular displacement of the dots changes continuously within my monocular view. The angular displacement, viewing point and dots form a fluidly changeable entity.



  1. "The dots plus the geometry of the view is a single object and there is no transfer elsewhere."

    Would you agree that this is consistent with autaptic-cell activation patterns in retinoid space? See here:


  2. Yes. As Aristotle spotted, we cannot have experience if the content of that experience is involved in an infinite regress. Somewhere there is a set of objects that are experience. Our instruments will, one day, pin down some area of brain activity that correlates very highly with the positional data for experience.

    Your insight that this structure must be capable of shifting patterns of data and the proposal that autaptic-cell arrays are involved seems highly reasonable to me. I remember "back in the day" when I was doing my PhD studying the work of Eccles and of Ito and being impressed by how the electronic images of the world shifted across the cerebellum activating the underlying motor reflexes. (Were scientists really better then?) Nature tends to stick to a successful method so a similar trick, with the electronic image of the world washing over neural structures, is going to be used again. The processing is going to be spatial, not sequential or digital:

    "Therefore, the human brain must have an innate biological structure that can provide us with a volumetric analog of our personal world from an egocentric perspective" (Trehub)

    As you say in your article, the electronic image moves around the I! (the central cluster of neurons), it washes over the neuronal self. Perhaps the I! relates to the actual physical position of the eyes so that we can always glance in the right direction even when our heads are horizontal.

    The I! neurons need to be located. Where are they? Superior colliculus, LGN, ILN? All of these places control gaze and saccades. My favourite is somewhere in the thalamus. You only need a few million neurons to do the trick so a volume smaller than a pea could contain the retinoid system. It is known that bilateral removal of both of the ILN removes the person.

    As a neurophysiologist one could probably stop here, at least for a decade or three. However, as you point out, there is still the I!*. Phenomenal space (the sliding activity in the neurons) has a phenomenal origin. It has a geometry.

    The I!* geometry needs to be described. The philosophers keep banging on about the regress that occurs if we use old-fashioned geometry but as scientists we do not need to be constrained by fear of maths. The geometry could be complex in the same way as the true geometry of the world is complex.

    I think you are generally on the right tack. I hope you don't mind me ranting but if you scratch the surface of the average philosopher of mind you find that all of physics since 1905 is not understood and actively rejected. Firm beliefs such as the non-existence of time and the precisely fixed location of objects are favoured over modern observation and theory. There is no absolute reason why phenomenal space should not be hosted within a retinoid system. Philosophers should move on to HOW phenomenal space can exist rather than smugly denying the obvious on the basis of outdated and erroneous ideas about the world.