Understanding how consciousness and the mind is generated is best done using the bottom-up approach of neuroscience, but if the consciousness/mind is performing recursive, downwardly causal actions on the Lockean Ideas – the content of thinking/cognition – then what are the mental mechanisms being utilized? Here I present some nascent ideas for your consideration.
Categories of Understanding and Laws of Thought. These are the template for which – or the form/structure through which – understanding occurs. Different people employ templates in different ways, which causes different understanding of the same concept between individuals. The first act of intuition, upon perception is to fit the perception into the Categories of Understanding – basically, to construct the ‘shape’ of the Idea using the categorical template.
Qualia. This is the palette used to build the content of Lockean Ideas. into the form of the categories of understanding. The categories determine the shape of the content of thought, but qualia is the material from which the content is built.
Values. These are the way one relates the self to the Ideas that are generated by the composition of Categories and Qualia – of form and substance, so to speak. This is a necessary step, because the Ideas independent of a relationship to the self are non-existent entities. The value-relationship of Ideas to the self, however, alters the Idea from any sort of pure form.
The mind, also, seems to have a way of bringing forth and pushing away Ideas into conscious consideration. It’s then on this conscious stage, with a size determined by what’s called working memory, that the mind can perform various operations on the Ideas. But what are the mental ‘instruments’ being employed to manipulate the Ideas inside the mind?
I suggest what I’m going to call the Operations of Intuition: the things the mind does to its internal model(s) of a Lockean Idea when it is actively and consciously undergoing thinking/cognition about that/those Idea(s). Being able to understand these Operations of Intuition may be vital to the development of an artificial general intelligence (AGI).
Here are my ten candidates for what the Operations of Intuition are:
1) Set goals. Goals are a state of affairs we want to make a reality through the manipulations and employment of our Ideas. It’s the attribution of functionality to the Ideas – how can this Idea most efficiently realize the state of affairs I desire? A state of affairs may be something external – get the job I want, make dinner, scratch and itch – or something internal – wrap my head around a difficult concept, make myself happy, or become aware of the time.
2) Pattern Recognition: determining patterns (internal similarities) within Idea(s). This is essentially the function that neural networks perform with given data sets.
3) Abstraction and Symbolization.
a) Abstraction: apply and adjust the species and genus of the object’s classification by comparing to similar known or conceived Ideas in memory or immediately present (external similarities).
b) Symbolization: imbue certain Lockean Ideas with meaning beyond what their form and qualia immediately imply. This could be anything from imbuing a cross with the idea of God’s Grace and Christ’s Salvation down to having the squiggly lines (or mouth sounds) that make up the word Pokemon contain the meaning of all the various creatures invented to inhabit this fantasy world.
4) Estimate various probabilities.
a) probabilities for things like cause, purpose, property, stability, etc.
b) probabilities for how likely a certain state of affairs is given one’s internal mental model of the world.
c) probabilities for predicting what state of affairs will follow from the current state of affairs.
5) Evaluate Salience and Value.
a) Salience to one’s various goals and to potential new goals. A goal can be anything as simple as getting across the room or reaching for one’s cup of coffee – it’s an action with an intentional outcome.
b) Value to one’s self. This can be seen in a sort of Bayesian learning scheme, where the prior is one’s already held values and the posterior is how new information alters one’s values, such that the output is a set of values altered by a degree characterized by the relative strength of the prior (strength of one’s convictions) (the P(H) in Bayes’s theorem) and the evidence (strength of the incoming data in the opposite direction of previously held convictions) (the P(E|H)/P(E) in Bayes’s theorem).
6) Attribute value judgments (good, bad, safe, dangerous, pleasurable, painful, etc.) based on one’s own value system. This is a triangular relationship of self, objects of various value to the self, and the abstract notions of value as applied by the self to those objects of value.
7) Assimilate, accommodate, or reject novel data to one’s internal models of the world (schema in the Piaget parlance).
8) Separate, combine, mix, extract and/or alter the degree or quality of properties of Lockean Idea(s) being considered. For example, taking the body of a human and combining it with the body of a horse to make a centaur; perhaps then making it pink with purple polka-dots and 50 feet tall; and then instilling it with the abstract Idea of freedom due to its speed and strength.
9) Rotate and translate model(s) of the physical object(s) being considered in space (relative to other objects and to one’s self).
10) Theory of mind – determine the agency of and then apply potential motivations and thoughts to other agents.