In addition to establishing the theoretical foundation outlined above, the ongoing research applies this framework to three related areas of inquiry: the interface problem, dual-process theory, and transfer of knowledge. The Interface Problem concerns how propositional thoughts interact with sensory-motor systems, whose underlying information processing is not propositionally formatted. The current investigation is premised on the idea that the reasoning-sensory/motor interface is not unique in posing a problem and that the user-illusion of consciousness is a global solution to the interface problems.
A second application of this framework is to offer an overview of dual-process theory. Dual-process theories have been advanced in learning and memory research, reasoning, decision-making, and social cognition. What is interesting from a philosophical perspective is that these diverse inquires seem to point to there being two types of cognition, one fast automatic, and unconscious, the other slow, controlled and conscious. The view being investigated here is that the differences can be understood in terms of different network dynamics. In particular, conscious reasoning involves global processing, whereas unconscious reasoning is local.
Finally, a number of recent studies have indicated that transfer of knowledge of the sort advertised for brain training techniques is not effective. At best transfer occurs only between closely related cognitive tasks but general intelligence is not improved. This result reinforces historical insights in the philosophy of education dating back to Socrates, that teaching general intelligence is not possible. The goal of this research is to consider these results in the context of the brain’s small-world architecture, in which training local networks is the standard result of learning but transfer is only possible through active global networks. Future research will apply what is learned in this context to education.
Christopher Viger (Rotman Institute of Philosophy, Western University)
Jiangtian Li (Western University)
“Why Consciousness Must be a User-Illusion” presented at the annual meetings of the Canadian Philosophical Association, June 2019.
“The Role of Semantic Hubs in Perception and Action: A Novel Solution to the Interface Problem” presented at the annual meetings of the Canadian Philosophical Association, June 2018 (with R. Foley).
“A Small-World Look at Dual Process Theory” presented at the annual meetings of the Canadian Philosophical Association, May 2017.