Three ways of Thinking

Deleuze continues by suggesting that we almost have to distinguish three dimensions, which is his future work that he and Guattari develop in What is Philosophy?:

1) in the first, there are concepts that are invented in philosophy;

2) in the second, there are percepts in the domain of art. An artist creates percepts, a word required to distinguish these from perceptions. What does a novelist want? He wants to be able to construct aggregates of perceptions and sensations that survive those who read the novel. Deleuze gives examples in Tolstoy or Chekhov, each in his own way, who are able to write like a painter manages to paint. So, to try to give to this complex web of sensations a radical independence in relation to he/she who experiences them: Tolstoy described atmospheres; Faulkner, and another great American novelist, Thomas Wolfe who nearly stated this in his short stories: someone goes out in the morning, smells toast, sees a bird flying, and feels a complex web of sensations.

So, what happens when someone who experiences the sensations goes on to do something else? This, says Deleuze, is a bit like in art, where we find an answer. It’s to give a duration or an eternity to this complex web of sensations that are no longer grasped as being experienced by someone, or at the outside, might be grasped as experienced by a fictional character. What does a painter do? He gives consistency to percepts, he tears percepts out of perception.

Deleuze points to the Impressionists who utterly twisted perception. A concept, Deleuze says, creates a crack in the skull -fend le crane-, it’s a habit of thought that is completely new, and people aren’t used to thinking like that, not used to having their skulls cracked, since a concept twists our nerves. Deleuze cites Cézanne from memory, who said something like, we have to make impressionism last/durable, that is, new methods are required in order to make it have duration, so that the percept acquires an ever greater autonomy.

3) A third order of things, a kind of connection among them all, are affects. Deleuze says that, of course, there are no percepts without affects, but that these are specific as well: these are becomings that exceed him or her who goes through them, exceed the strength of those who go through them. Doesn’t music lead us into these forces -puissances- that exceed our grasp? It’s possible, Deleuze answers. If one takes a philosophical concept, it causes one to see things -faire voir des choses- since the greatest philosophers have this “seeing” trait or aspect -côté ‘voyant’-, at least in the philosophers that Deleuze admires: Spinoza causes one to “see”, one of the most visionary -voyant- philosophers, Nietzsche as well. They all hurl forth fantastic affects, there is a music in these philosophers, and inversely, music makes one see some very strange things, colors and percepts. Deleuze says he imagines a kind of circulation of these dimensions into each other, between philosophical concepts, pictorial percepts, and musical affects. There’s nothing surprising in there being these resonances, he maintains, just the work of very different people, but that never stop interpenetrating.

Thinking with others?

A unifying view of the basis of social cognition
Vittorio Gallese1, Christian Keysers1,2 and Giacomo Rizzolatti1,Corresponding author: Giacomo Rizzolatti (giacomo.rizzolatti@unipr.it)
1
Department of Neuroscience, Section of Physiology, University of Parma, Italy
2
BCN Neuroimaging Center, University of Groningen, Antonius Deusinglaan 2, Groningen, The Netherlands

In this article we provide a unifying neural hypothesis on how individuals understand the actions and emotions of others. Our main claim is that the fundamental mechanism at the basis of the experiential understanding of others’ actions is the activation of the mirror neuron system. A similar mechanism, but involving the activation of viscero-motor centers, underlies the experiential understanding of the emotions of others. Humans are an exquisitely social species. Our survival and success depends crucially on our ability to thrive in c o m p l e x s o c i al s i t u a t io n s . O n e o f th e m o s t s t r i k in g features of our experience of others is its intuitive nature. This implicit grasp of what other people do or feel will be the focus of our review. We will posit that, in our brain, there are neural mechanisms (mirror mechanisms) that allow us to directly understand the meaning of the actions and emotions of others by internally replicating (‘simulating’) them without any explicit reflective mediation. Conceptual reasoning is not necessary for this understanding. As human beings, of course, we are able to reason about others and to use this capacity to understand other people’s minds at the conceptual, declarative level. Here we will argue, however, that the fundamental mechanism that allows us a direct experiential grasp of the mind of others is not conceptual reasoning but direct simulation of the observed events through the mirror mechanism. The novelty of our approach consists in providing for the first time a neurophysiological account of the experiential dimension of both action and emotion understanding.

What makes social interactions so different from our perception of the inanimate world is that we witness the actions and emotions of others, but we also carry out similar actions and we experience similar emotions. There is something shared between our first- and third-person experience of these phenomena: the observer and the observed are both individuals endowed with a similar brain–body system. A crucial element of social cognition is the brain’s capacity to directly link the first- and third- person experiences of these phenomena (i.e. link ‘I do and I feel’ with ‘he does and he feels’). We will define this mechanism ‘simulation’.

Il faut que penser

Deleuze states that he never was affected by people who proclaim the death of philosophy, getting beyond philosophy, etc., since he always wondered what that could mean. As long as there’s a need to create concepts, there will be philosophy since that’s the definition of philosophy, we have to create them, and we create them as a function of problems, and problems evolve. Certainly, one can be Platonician, Leibnizian, Kantian today, that is, one judges that certain problems — not all — posed by Plato remain valid provided one makes certain transformations, and so one is Platonician since one still has use for Platonic concepts. If we pose problems of a completely different nature, doing philosophy is creating new concepts as a function of problems posed today.

The final aspect, Deleuze continues, is what is the evolution of problems? We might say historical, social forces, but there is something deeper. It’s all very mysterious, Deleuze admits, maybe they don’t have time in the interview to pursue it, but Deleuze sees us reaching a kind of becoming of thought, evolution of thought that results not only in no longer posing the same problems, they are no longer posed in the same way. There is an urgent appeal, a necessity even to create and re-create new concepts. So history of philosophy cannot be reduced to sociological influence, he argues. There is a becoming of thought, something very mysterious that causes us perhaps no longer to think in the same way as a hundred years ago, new thought processes, ellipses of thought. Deleuze maintains that there is a history of pure thought, and that’s what history of philosophy is, it has always had only one function, so there’s no need to get beyond it, as it has its sole function.

Or better not think?

This is a brand new public domain 9/11 Truth documentary about the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center complex.

How should we find out how they think ?

 Biologically Based Computational
Models of High-Level Cognition


Randall C. O’Reilly
Computer models based on the detailed biology of the brain can help us understand the myriad
complexities of human cognition and intelligence. Here, we review models of the higher level
aspects of human intelligence, which depend critically on the prefrontal cortex and associated
subcortical areas. The picture emerging from a convergence of detailed mechanistic models and
more abstract functional models represents a synthesis between analog and digital forms of
computation. Specifically, the need for robust active maintenance and rapid updating of
information in the prefrontal cortex appears to be satisfied by bistable activation states and
dynamic gating mechanisms. These mechanisms are fundamental to digital computers and may be
critical for the distinctive aspects of human intelligence.

6 OCTOBER 2006 VOL 314 SCIENCE 94 http://www.sciencemag.org

or does it work like Hecht-Nielsen proposes?

Confabulation Theory
A Synopsis
Robert Hecht-Nielsen
Computational Neurobiology, Institute for Neural Computation, Cal(IT)2, ECE Department
University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0407 USA, r@ucsd.edu
Abstract
A theory of the cognitive function of human cerebral cortex is sketched.
1. Introduction
Confabulation theory (see [1,2] for details beyond this brief sketch) offers a comprehensive, concrete, explanation for cognition. The theory hypothesizes the specific underlying mathematical mechanism of cognition; as well as the neuronal implementation of that mechanism (specified at a ‘meta-level’ of neurophysiological detail: summary descriptions of the dynamical behavior of hypothesized subgroups of cortical neurons). Confabulation theory proposes that all aspects of cognition (seeing, hearing, command of movement and thought, planning, language, abstract thinking, etc., etc.) are implemented using four fundamental elements: 1) mental object representation, 2) knowledge links, 3) confabulation, and 4) action command origination. These, and their cortical implementations, are briefly sketched, in order, in the following four sections. The concrete numerical values provided in this synopsis of the theory are presented to help fix ideas (many of them probably vary significantly across cortex). If they are within an order of magnitude of being correct I will be happy.

How we may think

“N as in Neurology”

Parnet announces this title as linking both neurology and the brain. Deleuze says that neurology is very difficult for him, but has always fascinated him. To answer why, he ponders the question of what happens in someone’s head when he/she has an idea. When there are no ideas, he says, it’s like a pinball machine. How does it communicate inside the head? They don’t proceed along pre-formed paths and by ready-made associations, so something happens, if only we knew. That interests Deleuze greatly since he feels that if we understood this, we might understand everything, and the solutions must be extremely varied. He clarifies this: two extremities in the brain can well establish contact, i.e. through electric processes of the synapses. And then there are other cases that are much more complex perhaps, through discontinuity in which there is a gap that must be jumped. Deleuze says that the brain is full of fissures , that jumping happens constantly in a probabilistic regime. He believes there are relations of probability between two linkages, and that these communications inside a brain are fundamentally uncertain, relying on laws of probability. Deleuze sees this as the question of what makes us think something, and he admits that someone might object that he’s inventing nothing, that it’s the old question of associations of ideas. One would almost have to wonder, he says, for example, when a concept is given or a work of art is looked at, one would almost have to try to sketch a map of the brain, its correspondences, what the continuous communications are and what the discontinuous communications would be from one point to another.

Something has struck Deleuze, he admits, a story that physicists use, the baker’s transformation: taking a segment of dough to knead it, you stretch it out into a rectangle, you fold it back over, you stretch it out again, etc. etc., you makes a number of transformations and after *x* transformations, two completely contiguous points are necessarily caused to be quite the opposite, very distant from each other. And there are distant points that, as a result of *x* transformations, are found to be quite contiguous. So, Deleuze wonders whether, when one looks for something in one’s head, there might be this type of combinations , for example, two points that he cannot see how to associate, and as a result of numerous transformations, he discovers them side by side. He suggests that between a concept and a work of art, i.e. between a mental product and a cerebral mechanism, there are some very, very exciting resemblances, and that for him, the questions, how does one think? and what does thinking mean?, suggest that with thought and the brain, the questions are intertwined. Deleuze says that he believes more in the future of molecular biology of the brain than in the future of information science or of any theory of communication.

You make me think!

He adds that he doesn’t believe in culture, rather he believes in encounters (rencontres), but these encounters don’t occur with people. People think that it’s with other people that encounters take place, like among intellectuals at colloquia. Encounters occur, rather, with things, with a painting, a piece of music.

L’Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze, avec Claire Parnet

Part I

Part II