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RonRagusa
08-03-2015, 03:57 PM
Lately I have been thinking that intention doesn't exist, so IMO it is probably best to consider the center to be the thing that drives everything.

Please elaborate Cliff. What do you mean by "intention doesn't exist"? And what is it about the center that provides it with the ability to "drive" anything?

Ron

Janet Rosen
08-03-2015, 07:21 PM
Hmmm....if intention doesn't exist, why do we do ANYthing beyond autonomic activities?

Cliff Judge
08-04-2015, 01:32 PM
tl;dr I try to keep up with developments in cognitive science, and, mea culpa, I find that they often reinforce my existing beliefs of how to develop high level martial skills.

Basically, 21st century neuroscience is telling us that there is no evidence-based reason to believe that the part of our minds that thinks of itself as "me" is really at the controls. It doesn't make decisions, it does not direct anything.

The evidence, based in controlled experimentation, paints a picture of consciousness as a workspace which other components of the mind - specialists, some of which are holdouts to days before we had warm blood - use to share common information. They filter what they share there, and they don't wait for consciousness's say-so before doing their job. An experiment from a few decades ago that was repeated in the past decade using an fMRI showed that, when a test subject was told to pick up an object in front of them, by the time they "decided" to pick it up, the nerves in their arm were already performing the action.

I know, I know - what the crap am I even saying, how can the seat of the self be a bulletin board? Cliff, when did you move to Colorado and/or Washington State? But there has been a huge amount of research and scientists and philosophers are starting to get the question of what consciousness really is ("the Hard Problem of consciousness") into the right frame.

You are not an incorporeal entity at the controls of your brain and body. You are an ephemeral sensation of limited cooperation between a number of simple, purpose-focused "modules" that are not aware of themselves. Oh! and your sense of continuity from one moment to the next is entirely illusory. You are a different self now than probably just a minute ago.

There are obviously lots of big questions about where morals come from, accountability for one's actions, how choices are made. I think the question of what intention is, or can possibly be, is part of this.

I don't really think intention doesn't exist. But I do think most people automatically assume intention comes from the self, and that to train it, you start from the self and work to get your body to correctly organize itself in order to let it do what it will. And it might be that training this way, if it works for some people, is because, never the less, a completely different process is occurring than what they believe is happening. But I don't think you should go that way if you want a breakthrough.

People make decisions and take actions every day, obviously, but if our selves are simply reflexes that take responsibility for things that have already been set into motion, what can intention possibly be?

Maybe it is actually better to view intention as an aggregate expression of various conscious and unconscious agents? There could be a process of refining it through some type of effort, just as there could be ways for it to "stagnate." And I think this process would not be primarily intellectual.

To Dan's thread about footwork vs bodywork, I think you are postulating unnecessary entities if you say that intention drives center which drives the body. Center drives itself. Or at least, it should. You should be able to make the correct decision and generate the correct technique when you have to, before or without your mind realizing what is happening.

One of my teachers, David A Hall, writes that a lot of the koryu derive from rituals that are meant to grant volition. I have not yet really begun to figure out how the modern idea of no true self, as challenging as it is to a western, Cartesian viewpoint, interacts with esoteric Buddhist views of the self and identity. (It might not come as such a shocker.) But I can tell you that the old koryu schools were very into repetitive, supervised, paired kata practice. :)

Disclaimers:

- I actually studied AI / Cog Sci / Philosophy of mind in college, but not at the graduate level and I am not a researcher. If there is anybody with actual bona fides around here, feel free to school me.

- These are my own thoughts (whatever that means!) and do not reflect the opinions of anyone else I train with or under. They are a work in progress and I hope they remain in progress until the exact moment when the biological functions that support them cease.

RonRagusa
08-04-2015, 03:06 PM
Lots of FFT here Cliff.

Basically, 21st century neuroscience is telling us that there is no evidence-based reason to believe that the part of our minds that thinks of itself as "me" is really at the controls. It doesn't make decisions, it does not direct anything.

My view of "me" encompasses more than a part of my mind devoted to painting a picture of me as an individual. My "me-ness" is derived from the integration of mind and body such that considering one without the other is meaningless from the standpoint of my individuality. As such, when it comes to decision making, the process involves all of me not just the part of my mind that holds and maintains the picture of me.

So I agree with you that "It [mind] doesn't make decisions, it does not direct anything." insofar as there are other components of me that are involved in the process. This notion is fundamental to the part of Aikido training of aimed at reintegrating mind and body to achieve mind and body coordination.

An experiment from a few decades ago that was repeated in the past decade using an fMRI showed that, when a test subject was told to pick up an object in front of them, by the time they "decided" to pick it up, the nerves in their arm were already performing the action.

And were the subjects given the option of not picking up the object? Did any of them purposely decide not to obey the command to pick the object up? Not picking the object up would be an example of a non-autonomic based decision that could be more closely attributed to being purely mind based.

You are not an incorporeal entity at the controls of your brain and body. You are an ephemeral sensation of limited cooperation between a number of simple, purpose-focused "modules" that are not aware of themselves. Oh! and your sense of continuity from one moment to the next is entirely illusory. You are a different self now than probably just a minute ago.

I agree, I'm not in any way incorporeal. I am the result of the synergy of mind/body and am not merely an ephemeral sensation. As to whether or not my various subsystems are self-aware, the question remains unanswered. Perhaps continued training will reveal glimpses of possibility in that area.

I don't really think intention doesn't exist. But I do think most people automatically assume intention comes from the self, and that to train it, you start from the self and work to get your body to correctly organize itself in order to let it do what it will. And it might be that training this way, if it works for some people, is because, never the less, a completely different process is occurring than what they believe is happening. But I don't think you should go that way if you want a breakthrough.

Again, for me at least, the distinction between self [mind] and body is lost. The illusion of separation is the result of conditioning (parental, societal, educational, peer group, etc.) as we grow. Aikido training is a process of integration that breaks down that conditioning and reveals self as a unified whole of mind and body.

Maybe it is actually better to view intention as an aggregate expression of various conscious and unconscious agents?

That would be close to my view.

There could be a process of refining it through some type of effort, just as there could be ways for it to "stagnate." And I think this process would not be primarily intellectual.

Aikido training is just such a process.

To Dan's thread about footwork vs bodywork, I think you are postulating unnecessary entities if you say that intention drives center which drives the body. Center drives itself. Or at least, it should. You should be able to make the correct decision and generate the correct technique when you have to, before or without your mind realizing what is happening.

Center is composed of three components: a physical component (body), a mental component (mind) and a temporal component (now). The center is manifest when all are aligned, so to speak. The center doesn't drive, it's driven.

Ron

JW
08-05-2015, 04:46 AM
The issue with referring to these high-level issues of "self" when talking about martial arts is: volitional movement is way downstream of high-level consciousness stuff. Let's say there is no free will. There is still such thing as "volitional movement" even if that is a misnomer. "Intent" as used in martial arts terminology just refers to a part of volitional movement-- a small part that precedes alpha motoneuron activation, and functions to alter force input/output in an observable way. It's downstream of any discussion of self or free will. It's part of the puppet's functionality rather than something to do with the puppet master. I don't know maybe it is beside your point. My point is that it is an obervable aspect of motor behavior that we can use just as much as we can learn to ride a bike or wiggle the ears.

BTW, I agree that the current research is consistent with free will being an illusion. Fun idea but it is far from settled. My point is that it doesn't matter, because the fact is, we can pick up a coffee cup, open a door, throw a punch, etc, and intent is a part of those observable behaviors.

ps I have similar interests as you I guess. Based on my reading, I think the older conception of self in Buddhism (if you take Therevada as being representative of a closer to "original" Buddhist POV) is something metaphysical that is upstream of all aspects of mind anyway-- consider that one of the beings you can be reincarnated as is a being with no mind, just body. It's one of the creatures in a higher realm than our world. It can live and die and produce effects in the world, thus can accumulate karma. But has no volition at all! That supposedly can be one of the past or future lives of any of us, but the "self" is something that is equally at home in there, or in our body, or in an ant's! Wacky stuff.

Cliff Judge
08-05-2015, 11:05 AM
The issue with referring to these high-level issues of "self" when talking about martial arts is: volitional movement is way downstream of high-level consciousness stuff. Let's say there is no free will. There is still such thing as "volitional movement" even if that is a misnomer. "Intent" as used in martial arts terminology just refers to a part of volitional movement-- a small part that precedes alpha motoneuron activation, and functions to alter force input/output in an observable way. It's downstream of any discussion of self or free will. It's part of the puppet's functionality rather than something to do with the puppet master. I don't know maybe it is beside your point. My point is that it is an obervable aspect of motor behavior that we can use just as much as we can learn to ride a bike or wiggle the ears.

BTW, I agree that the current research is consistent with free will being an illusion. Fun idea but it is far from settled. My point is that it doesn't matter, because the fact is, we can pick up a coffee cup, open a door, throw a punch, etc, and intent is a part of those observable behaviors.

ps I have similar interests as you I guess. Based on my reading, I think the older conception of self in Buddhism (if you take Therevada as being representative of a closer to "original" Buddhist POV) is something metaphysical that is upstream of all aspects of mind anyway-- consider that one of the beings you can be reincarnated as is a being with no mind, just body. It's one of the creatures in a higher realm than our world. It can live and die and produce effects in the world, thus can accumulate karma. But has no volition at all! That supposedly can be one of the past or future lives of any of us, but the "self" is something that is equally at home in there, or in our body, or in an ant's! Wacky stuff.

Thanks for commenting, particularly on the Theraveda concept.

I think, based on conversations I have had with people who are into internal training, that people are actually trying to bring their own training "upstream" quite a bit....to where they believe their thoughts and sense of self come from. I think it might be better to consider the source of intent to be somewhere outside of what you regard as your self.

No idea how or if that would matter, just a thought.

But fwiw...the external, supervised, kata-based training I am always on about is definitely based on observation of and attempt to modify behavior.

P.S. Ron, I thought I replied to you yesterday, my post was lost. I wanted to point out that it look like you have a very dualistic mind/body conception of yourself - as most people do I think, and it certainly serves us well - and I just wanted to point out that what you perceive as a unity of body and mind, might actually be better described as a state where the body is unified, and the mind is out of the way.

I wrote a better paragraph than this about how whenever I read accounts from soldiers or athletes of being a true state of dynamic flow, they seem to talk about time slowing down, feeling calm, and sort of being detached, watching themselves perform the correct action spontaneously. I think, rather than this being a state where mind and body are perfectly unified and coordinated, this is a state where the parts of the mind that would otherwise use consciousness as a forum to decide what to do are instead able to function by themselves. Thus the sense of calm and detatchment. If this were a state where the mind were doing things, I would expect more of a sensation or awareness of the processing.

Erick Mead
08-05-2015, 12:48 PM
Thanks for commenting, particularly on the Theraveda concept.

I think, based on conversations I have had with people who are into internal training, that people are actually trying to bring their own training "upstream" quite a bit....to where they believe their thoughts and sense of self come from. I think it might be better to consider the source of intent to be somewhere outside of what you regard as your self.

No idea how or if that would matter, just a thought.

I wrote a better paragraph than this about how whenever I read accounts from soldiers or athletes of being a true state of dynamic flow, they seem to talk about time slowing down, feeling calm, and sort of being detached, watching themselves perform the correct action spontaneously.

I was not going to add my thoughts but this prompted me. I leave aside the hints of NLP in some of the 'intention' slash 'internal' discussions and the points made from Buddhist thought, which is interesting and likely applicable -- but not very accessible to most.

I find Rene Girard's observations most helpful (http://www.imitatio.org/uploads/tx_rtgfiles/Rene_Girard_Fudamantal_Anthropo.pdf) regarding the nature of mimesis in learning and in framing human conflict, especially as this pertains to reflexive actions and mirror neurons (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.133.189&rep=rep1&type=pdf). The chief question being, in this context anyway, "Where does 'intention' come from?"

If Girard is correct, desire, learning and conflict are framed by the triangular mimetic mechanism he discovered and described. Human desire is unspecified until a model for desire is perceived to imitate. This leads to learning from imitation of the model. It leads to rivalry with the model over some now-common object or circumstance of desire. It leads to conflict as they compete over their now mirrored and thus mutually reinforcing and yet conflicting desires. This thesis now appears to have support for a mechanism of its operation in the since-discovered mirror neurons.

Mirror neurons function at a level between the motor cortex inhibition circuits and the motor action circuits. In voluntary intentional activity, the mind premises the action to be performed with the same motor circuits that will drive the action, but initially inhibited from starting the action potential, until the "decision" to act (release of the inhibitory pathway) is made.

In a mirrored state, the inhibition delay can be 'turned off' and form a direct link to motor action in the imitation of a mirrored action. Thus, religious liturgical-type rituals with communal patterned behavior, place the practitioners at a remove upstream of their perceived "voluntary" mind, and in some sense transcending the perception of individuality for a larger sense of self. FWIW, the same principle operates and is applied in military mass drill to frame unit cohesion as well as practical proficiency under stress.

Much of what is exploited in Aiki arts relies on a kind of 'precognitive' advantage from non-voluntary mirrored and reflexive movement -- which differs from what we usually conceive of as the way our bodies move. By this I do not mean that we know things before they occur, but rather when the mirrored state operates the mind will find the body moving itself before the mind knows what it is yet doing much less planning it. The nature of this movement is not levered-joint action or push-pull mechanics at all, but the spiral flow mechanics we all should recognize.

The movement and structure in the body are unified into the same patterns. This type of movement can be patterned, and imitated, and thus trained -- but not in the ways we usually think of as the conscious mode of, "If THIS happens you decide to do THAT." The structure of the movements is the internal stress equivalent of the movement, and so the structure and perception of structure may be patterned similarly, and may be seen and imitated in aiki taiso and kokyu tanden ho.

Personally, I think approaching "structure-first" is admirable - the straight climb up the mountain -- but difficult to teach broadly and consistently to those not prepared for the vertical ascent. 'Movement-first' is the switchback trail -- less direct, and in some senses perhaps more confusing, but also less daunting and more accessible for those of average sensibilities.

Toward the end of perhaps taking a few of vertical shortcuts up the switchbacks, I teach my students when engaging their partner to first 'forget' the technique we are training until already into the action, and, initially, and very consciously, try to do nothing more than simply and closely imitating what they see the opponent doing. Only THEN are they to start thinking of the pattern of the technique being trained. This cause them to structure their bodies in an innately imitative way (more usually right) rather than a "planned" (and usually wrong) way.

This approach begins in being shown and imitating the patterns, eventually in perceiving the mirror operating and sensing the same patterns in others, and then allowing the mirror and sensation of patterns in others to operate and concentrate on being "IN" the movement pattern yourself as it does - and thus being to sense and adopt the structural pattern of this intention. This decision to be "IN" the pattern, as near to constantly as possible -- is the mode of training for what I see in those speaking of training 'intention.'

RonRagusa
08-05-2015, 01:46 PM
I wanted to point out that it look like you have a very dualistic mind/body conception of yourself - as most people do I think, and it certainly serves us well - and I just wanted to point out that what you perceive as a unity of body and mind, might actually be better described as a state where the body is unified, and the mind is out of the way.

Actually Cliff, I am of the opinion that mind/body duality is artificially imposed during one's formative years as a result of the conditioning I wrote about in my previous post. And it's necessary from a survival standpoint. We can't always be going around on autopilot; we need to be able to stop and think about stuff before we act (well sometimes anyway). So I wouldn't say that I have a dualistic mind/body conception of myself at all. I often find it convenient to refer to mind and body individually simply because it's easier to express concepts that way.

... whenever I read accounts from soldiers or athletes of being a true state of dynamic flow, they seem to talk about time slowing down, feeling calm, and sort of being detached, watching themselves perform the correct action spontaneously.

That's the state, coordinated mind/body, no longer mind and body... the result of training. We may be using different metaphors to explain it, but it's the state and the ability to achieve it that's important.

Ron

JW
08-05-2015, 03:03 PM
But fwiw...the external, supervised, kata-based training I am always on about is definitely based on observation of and attempt to modify behavior.

Agree, and I would add that even internal training involves "attempt to modify behavior." My idea is that it is observably true that we (and other animals) can and do modify behavior in an adaptive way. That is undeniable. Maybe we are smart, complex automatons searching in a smart, creative way for the most adaptive change, or maybe we have true free will. Either way, we can and do change our behavioral patterns.


I think, based on conversations I have had with people who are into internal training, that people are actually trying to bring their own training "upstream" quite a bit....to where they believe their thoughts and sense of self come from. I think it might be better to consider the source of intent to be somewhere outside of what you regard as your self.

I guess I think there are 2 things that you are talking about as 1. The high level "self" or decision maker may be illusory. The motor intent is the thing that moves ki. It's not illusory, but who controls it is debatable, in that the nature of "self" is debatable.

So you can train to improve and augment the link between intent and the "who" that makes decisions-- whoever that is.

If it is an intrinsic self, then fine.

But the interesting idea to me is: what if there is no real self? In that situation, our intelligence is just a way to find the best (most adaptive) decisions regarding our behavior, for the sake of our (very long) biological lineage. Thus our minds serve at the behest of the universe's creative tendency. So who is ultimately making the decisions? The universe's urge to create complex things and preserve their existence and propagate it.

So the more you dissolve the sense of self and thought in your behavior, the more purely this "universal mind" would shine through.

jonreading
08-06-2015, 08:13 AM
There are a couple of posts going on concurrently that skirt around a couple of things, I figure this thread is as good as the others.

First, intention is a desire or a wish, a focus on something to achieve. I intend to take out the trash. I intend to ask that girl on a date. I intend to buy a pizza for dinner. I am intent upon listening to my audiobook. The act of accomplishing the intention is not required, only the recognition of a desire. Intention is not an act - I can intend to throw my partner but that act will or will not happen. The best intentions, and so forth.

So some of us use the term "intent" to describe the scenario when what I want to do is what I do and this state is created from making my body correct in a variety of ways. In other words the desire to and the act of become one. "Intent" is distinctly different from "intention" not because of Webster's dictionary, but because we need to find language to describe a very specific scenario we are trying to replicate and "intent" kinda fits the bill. If you've ever been part of a "pretend like your drinking a glass of water," or similar exercise, you have been the victim of an exercise trying to unify your intention with your action.

Second, creating the aiki body (connecting our body and generating intent) is incredibly difficult and I find I fail most of the time, especially with movement. When I do succeed it is at a poor level of success. When I read about the ease of "just connecting and moving body/mind" it makes me suspicious that we are not talking about the same experience. It certainly makes me suspicious when we start talking philosophy to excuse behavior. As the joke goes, pacifism is the decision to be OK with a bully talking your lunch money.

The center of your body cannot move - it's a bag of organs floating in liquid wrapped in tissue tied to your spine and ribs. It cannot move anything and it cannot drive anything. It's something we pretend exists so that we can learn to control parts of our body that otherwise we cannot control (or even realize exist). These other parts create shockingly powerful results when used to initiate and motivate our movement. This power gives us the ability to expand what we can do, whenever we want, regardless of certain obstacles.

For example, moving with connection and center gives me the power to punch through a defense, making my desire to punch someone and the reality [that] I punch someone the same. How is this thwarted? If my partner can defend my punch, I cannot fulfill the reality of my intention and I am beaten. If my partner can thwart my free movement, then I am not doing what I am supposed to do.

Why could O Sensei beat everyone? Because he what he wanted and what he did was the same. Victory in a instant and all that.

Mary Eastland
08-06-2015, 09:41 AM
Or maybe Jon, you are approaching this in a difficult way. I believe you can't think your way into this. That is where the disconnect happens. It has to come from no mind. It is not that difficult...it just takes a leap of faith. Now that is difficult. To let go I what I thought I knew and fly. :)

ken king
08-06-2015, 04:29 PM
No mind kinda takes the mind out of mind/body one doesn't it?

Cliff Judge
08-06-2015, 06:40 PM
First, intention is a desire or a wish, a focus on something to achieve. I intend to take out the trash. I intend to ask that girl on a date. I intend to buy a pizza for dinner. I am intent upon listening to my audiobook. The act of accomplishing the intention is not required, only the recognition of a desire. Intention is not an act - I can intend to throw my partner but that act will or will not happen. The best intentions, and so forth.

So some of us use the term "intent" to describe the scenario when what I want to do is what I do and this state is created from making my body correct in a variety of ways.

Well, science is currently saying that desires and wishes for things do not originate in the conscious mind.

kewms
08-21-2015, 03:33 PM
I think, based on conversations I have had with people who are into internal training, that people are actually trying to bring their own training "upstream" quite a bit....to where they believe their thoughts and sense of self come from. I think it might be better to consider the source of intent to be somewhere outside of what you regard as your self.

Sorta like that old Japanese guy talking about unification with the Universe?

Katherine

Keith Larman
08-26-2015, 09:28 AM
If you folk really want to head down this rabbit hole, read some Brentano and Husserl. I keep wanting to jump in here, but the starting point would have to be a proper definition of "intention" since the way it's being used here seems to be quite fluid, imprecise and inconsistent. Then my eyes glass over and I remind myself "I did my time, I did my time" (No, wait, that was Heidegger, damnit!) and move on.

Seriously, Husserl is fun.

Cliff Judge
08-26-2015, 10:31 AM
If you folk really want to head down this rabbit hole, read some Brentano and Husserl. I keep wanting to jump in here, but the starting point would have to be a proper definition of "intention" since the way it's being used here seems to be quite fluid, imprecise and inconsistent. Then my eyes glass over and I remind myself "I did my time, I did my time" (No, wait, that was Heidegger, damnit!) and move on.

Seriously, Husserl is fun.

It goes without saying that philosophy has been down this road for as long as....there has been thought...or something that somebody thinks is thought.

But the fact of the matter is, science is now starting to take a serious look at these matters. Hard science, with actual measurements.

Keith Larman
08-26-2015, 10:54 AM
It goes without saying that philosophy has been down this road for as long as....there has been thought...or something that somebody thinks is thought.

But the fact of the matter is, science is now starting to take a serious look at these matters. Hard science, with actual measurements.

Yes, and while scientists tend to be very precise about what they're doing and what they're measuring, every participant in this thread appears to have their own understanding of what they mean when they use certain words. It strikes me, as a reader who suffered through years of these conversations myself in philosophy, that no two are using the same meaning in this thread and, to be blunt, I seriously doubt that anyone is using the meaning of the word as scientists might actually use it today. Unless you are in fact a scientist working in that area, of course.

This lack of a concrete definition of terms is something that is a fatal error in both science and philosophy. I'm not saying the scientists don't know what they're saying. I'm saying this thread is all over the map with people who clearly hold everything from subtly different to wildly different understandings. Which makes having discussions about that science rather pointless.

Or we could talk about "quantum consciousness" or other ridiculous pseudo-science concepts and be on about as firm a ground with the actual science.

Assumptions.

But then again I'm a grumpy cynic on some of these issues. That's what I get for being the dude in the family of engineers and scientists who went off the reservation to train in philosophy between physics and math classes...

As I said, carry on. Just tossing up a small flag fwiw. I'm sure many involved find the discussion fruitful -- I'm just not quite so confident. It's probably just me and I'm okay with that.

Back to my cave to stare at the shadows...

Keith Larman
08-26-2015, 10:56 AM
By the way, just reread this entry. Not bad from what I remember of my hazy understanding of Husserl. That was a struggle back in the day...

http://www.iep.utm.edu/huss-int/

Oh, I should add I'm also not saying Husserl is correct in his approach. The point is that looking over Husserl's account makes it quite obvious very quickly that it is a really complicated issue. And that we use the term rather loosely to cover an awful lot of ideas, feelings, concepts, etc.

Peter Goldsbury
08-26-2015, 03:59 PM
If you folk really want to head down this rabbit hole, read some Brentano and Husserl. I keep wanting to jump in here, but the starting point would have to be a proper definition of "intention" since the way it's being used here seems to be quite fluid, imprecise and inconsistent. Then my eyes glass over and I remind myself "I did my time, I did my time" (No, wait, that was Heidegger, damnit!) and move on.

Seriously, Husserl is fun.

Hello Keith,

Have you read G E M Anscombe's book on the subject? It was first published in 1957 and is still relevant. I like to lend it to my cognitive linguistics colleagues at university.

Best wishes,

Cliff Judge
08-26-2015, 04:17 PM
Hello Keith,

Have you read G E M Anscombe's book on the subject? It was first published in 1957 and is still relevant. I like to lend it to my cognitive linguistics colleagues at university.

Best wishes,

oooh - that's the lady who crushed C.S. Lewis in a debate! My Dad once told me I owed the existence of my beloved _Narnia_ books to her. :)

Keith Larman
08-26-2015, 05:00 PM
Hello Keith,

Have you read G E M Anscombe's book on the subject? It was first published in 1957 and is still relevant. I like to lend it to my cognitive linguistics colleagues at university.

Best wishes,

Well, 30 years ago, but yes. I started reading her books as a result of my interest in Wittgenstein. I must admit I'm much more happy with Wittgenstein and then Austin and Searle, however, when it comes to these topics. I may have to find my old copy of intention by Anscombe, though, now that you mention it, as I don't think I really gave it a proper chance when I read it way back then.

Regardless, IMHO even Anscombe's discussion (as I remember it) only scratches the surface of the myriad of things being talked about in this thread (or are being implied by various posts). There seem to be notes of "intention" as a physiological phenomena ("mental" intent driving subtle physical changes), intent in the sense of a mental state of purpose, intent in the sense of the "meaning" (or future intent?) of the physical action, and so on. And the "scientific approaches" seem to be some special cases of some of those things. Anyway, I do tend to glaze up fairly quickly when the topic comes up as I find that most are speaking right past each other with very different ideas as to the details of what they're discussing. Now that I think about it discussions like these are why I was so attracted to Austin, Peirce and Searle. After a while reading these philosophers it's quite easy to find yourself tossing up your hands and walking out the room muttering "oh, whatever, we'll never get anywhere on this."

Which is how I felt reading some of the posts on this thread.

So, as I said before, carry on. It's all good. And it's got me digging out some old favorites again. I just keep ending up feeling like my ability to understand even common language and hence my reality is diminishing daily. At some point, I'm just going to be a blithering idiot muttering non-sequiturs in the corner (although I'm sure some think I've already attained that level here). :D

Peter Goldsbury
08-26-2015, 05:01 PM
oooh - that's the lady who crushed C.S. Lewis in a debate! My Dad once told me I owed the existence of my beloved _Narnia_ books to her. :)

Hello Cliff,

Yes, that is the commonly accepted view. Here are some quotes:

"The real significance of this slightly bruising encounter with Anscombe concerns its interpretations for the future development of Lewis's writing projects. Some of Lewis's biographers, primarily A N Wilson, have seen this incident as signalling, perhaps even causing, a major shift in Lewis's outlook. Having been defeated in argument, they contend, Lewis lost confidence in the rational basis of his faith, and abandoned his role as a leading apologist. they claim that his shift to writing fictional works--such as the Chronicles of Narnia--reflects a growing realisation that rational argument cannot support Christian faith. However, the substantial body of written evidence concerning the exchange points to a different conclusion...."

"Narnia was not Lewis's escape from a failed rational apologetic; it was one of several strands to his approach, held together by his celebrated reconciliation of reason and imagination in the Christian vision of reality. Sadly, A N Wilson does not offer any compelling evidence for his suggestion that "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe grew out of Lewis's experience of being stung back into childhood by his defeat at the hands of Elizabeth Anscombe at the Socratic Club, or his amusing, but ultimately unevidenced, suggestion suggestion that Lewis based the White Witch of Narnia on Anscombe. The timing of Lewis's weaving together of the rich imaginative threads of Narnia, like the images in Spencer's Faerie Land, may conceivably owe something to Anscombe--but that is about as far as it goes. Lewis was writing about Narnia before Anscombe's 1948 presentation." (Alister McGrath, C S Lewis: A Life, 2013, Hodder.)

There is much more argument in the chapter from which the quotes were taken: Chapter 10. And whenever I see Tilda Swinton in a film, I will think of Anscombe--and how different they were. I met Anscombe a few times when I was a student in the 1960s.

Anyway, apologies for the thread drift. Nevertheless, Anscombe's book is very much worth reading by anyone concerned with the relation between intention and action.

Keith Larman
09-03-2015, 11:47 PM
To continue the thread drift a bit, have you seen this book Professor Goldsbury?

Un-Willing by Eva Brann (http://www.amazon.com/Un-Willing-Inquiry-Will%C2%92s-Power-Attempt/dp/158988096X/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441341743&sr=1-2&pebp=1441341751329&perid=0DQCKGHY2PFFBHWCTYBD)

I just picked it up and it is quite intriguing. More a survey (genealogy?) of the views of will and it's varied meanings (and much of it quite relevant to this discussion here, at least in terms of clarifying terms). Now I have to reread Augustine and Aquinas... Further down the rabbit hole ... :)

Peter Goldsbury
09-04-2015, 03:34 AM
Yes. She has written other books, on Heraclitus and Homer, and my general reaction to these was mixed. Anscombe was an Aristotelian, as well as being Wittgenstein's translator, and I think this is where one has to start. Alvin Goldman is also someone worth reading. Intention is certainly connected to action, in the sense that actions can be termed intentional or unintentional. They might also be 'centre-driven', whatever this means. This is a metaphor that needs to be unpacked, for its meaning is not intuitively clear.

Sorry for the terse response. My head is full of Buddhism in late-medieval Japan, as I am trying to make substantial progress on TIE 28 before university classes begin.

Keith Larman
09-04-2015, 11:08 AM
Yes. She has written other books, on Heraclitus and Homer, and my general reaction to these was mixed. Anscombe was an Aristotelian, as well as being Wittgenstein's translator, and I think this is where one has to start. Alvin Goldman is also someone worth reading. Intention is certainly connected to action, in the sense that actions can be termed intentional or unintentional. They might also be 'centre-driven', whatever this means. This is a metaphor that needs to be unpacked, for its meaning is not intuitively clear.

Sorry for the terse response. My head is full of Buddhism in late-medieval Japan, as I am trying to make substantial progress on TIE 28 before university classes begin.

I would agree having read her book on Heraclitus, but I did enjoy the review of the classical ideas, the origins of our views today. I think the underlying lesson here, at least for this discussion, is that, as you said, there is a lot to be unpacked in the terminology.

Keith Larman
09-04-2015, 11:16 AM
Regardless, please don't let me keep you from the TIE project. I'm still trying to digest the last one.

Erick Mead
09-04-2015, 12:00 PM
Intention is certainly connected to action, in the sense that actions can be termed intentional or unintentional. They might also be 'centre-driven', whatever this means. This is a metaphor that needs to be unpacked, for its meaning is not intuitively clear. There are three objective classes of relationship between intention and action , as I see it

1) The body does act on its own -- without intervention of conscious decision or "intent". These are reflexes -- of several classifiable kinds - some involving one neural connection others involving two or more -- the more, the longer the latency time between prompt and action. If anything qualifies as "center-driven" I would propose this as candidate.

2) The body can be trained to habituate certain patterned actions that are derived from conscious training, but which act in the event without substantial conscious control, other than initiating, and which verge on the upper latency range of some truly reflexive actions.

3) Then there are deliberate actions actively guided by conscious intention.

Most combat occurs in the range of classes 1 & 2, mainly because of the severe time limitations involved, on the order of 50-200 ms latency for prompt v. response

All attacking behaviors occur on the range of class 2, or 3.(100-300 ms latency or greater). Trained defending behaviors occur on the range of 2 and can approach the 100 ms latency barrier of true reflex.

A certain class of reflexive defending behaviors of extremely short neuro-muscular response times (25-50 ms) occur in the range of class 1. This cannot be trained directly -- it is neurological -- not cognitive in nature.

However, what one does to capitalize on these behaviors once they occur -- that can be trained -- and as counterattacks, can be devastating due the immediate and inherent desychronization of the longer attacking pulse frequency or latent rhythm between the attacker's prompt and action. In other words, sente is largely irrelevant in this mode of action.

To analogize -- one cannot make a wave break, but one can learn to see and be where the wave breaks, and be trained and so postured to act effectively to use its power once it has broken.

This kind of relationship between training, intention and action, in my view, is inherent in aiki. But there is an additional factor -- one can train to act in ways in class 2 of actions, and which do actually prompt certain class 1 reflexive actions in others, and this is also inherent in aiki. Lastly, one can train to posture the body so that reflexive actions are deployed upon interaction with an attacker -- one can effectively become the breaking wave.

And if you have ever been caught inside on a breaking wave, well -- it is all just ineffective flailing in chaos and a desperate hope for air ...

Cliff Judge
09-04-2015, 12:53 PM
There are three objective classes of relationship between intention and action , as I see it

1) The body does act on its own -- without intervention of conscious decision or "intent". These are reflexes -- of several classifiable kinds - some involving one neural connection others involving two or more -- the more, the longer the latency time between prompt and action. If anything qualifies as "center-driven" I would propose this as candidate.

2) The body can be trained to habituate certain patterned actions that are derived from conscious training, but which act in the event without substantial conscious control, other than initiating, and which verge on the upper latency range of some truly reflexive actions.

3) Then there are deliberate actions actively guided by conscious intention.



3) might not actually be a thing that ever happens though.

http://www.rifters.com/real/articles/NatureNeuroScience_Soon_et_al.pdf


There has been a long controversy as to whether subjectively 'free' decisions are determined by brain activity ahead of time. We found that the outcome of a decision can be encoded in brain activity of prefrontal and parietal cortex up to 10 s before it enters awareness. This delay presumably reflects the operation of a network of high-level control areas that begin to prepare an upcoming decision long before it enters awareness.

Erick Mead
09-04-2015, 01:30 PM
3) might not actually be a thing that ever happens though.

http://www.rifters.com/real/articles/NatureNeuroScience_Soon_et_al.pdf

Then we jail too many people for crimes since they are automata, and not moral agents.

But when we have dangerous dumb creatures that are difficult to put under control we either put them down or corral them.

Given that the result is the same on either premise -- I am not sure it makes much of difference, really.

But then I am apparently not deciding to write this, I am just justifying ex-post an a priori compulsion created by your writing ...

Damn you ..... ;)

Cliff Judge
09-04-2015, 03:04 PM
Then we jail too many people for crimes since they are automata, and not moral agents.

But when we have dangerous dumb creatures that are difficult to put under control we either put them down or corral them.

Given that the result is the same on either premise -- I am not sure it makes much of difference, really.

But then I am apparently not deciding to write this, I am just justifying ex-post an a priori compulsion created by your writing ...

Damn you ..... ;)

I bet you that the law is pretty robust in this regard - whether or not we are all automatons, there is a physical being you can lock up in jail if its objective behavior violates the laws. :)

But when you (automaton or not) are trying to develop new skills and behaviors in yourself, I think some consideration of what's going on inside might be worthwhile. I'm a big advocate of drilling behaviors into myself and seeing how that changes my game sometime down the line, for me the idea that it's all a bunch of reflexes seems to reinforce my ideas.

Erick Mead
09-04-2015, 05:22 PM
But when you (automaton or not) are trying to develop new skills and behaviors in yourself, I think some consideration of what's going on inside might be worthwhile. FWIW -- my 3-part hierarchy is, in addition to tracking my own observations, basically a parallel for kinematic processing of the same scheme laid out in Korzybski's General Semantics (http://esgs.free.fr/uk/art/sands.htm). Read it if you dare -- difficult, dense and demanding -- but profound and largely confirmed in modern research.

A diagram of his four-part schema of three "Silent" levels and one "Verbal" level is here: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/G_semantics1946model.png

Korzybski's level I "Happening", is what I describe as a "prompt" and his levels II, III and IV track roughly with my classes of action 1) being monosynaptic or very basic polysynaptic reflexes, in which actuation precedes or coincides with awareness of the prompt causing it; class 2) where there is awareness of prompt and actuation and process modification is possible through prior process training, but not by immediate in situ modification of the processing; and 3) where in situ processing modification is part of the immediate actuation, what we would consider conscious expressive movement.

Peter Goldsbury
09-06-2015, 03:06 PM
The issue with referring to these high-level issues of "self" when talking about martial arts is: volitional movement is way downstream of high-level consciousness stuff. Let's say there is no free will. There is still such thing as "volitional movement" even if that is a misnomer. "Intent" as used in martial arts terminology just refers to a part of volitional movement-- a small part that precedes alpha motoneuron activation, and functions to alter force input/output in an observable way. It's downstream of any discussion of self or free will. It's part of the puppet's functionality rather than something to do with the puppet master. I don't know maybe it is beside your point. My point is that it is an obervable aspect of motor behavior that we can use just as much as we can learn to ride a bike or wiggle the ears.

BTW, I agree that the current research is consistent with free will being an illusion. Fun idea but it is far from settled. My point is that it doesn't matter, because the fact is, we can pick up a coffee cup, open a door, throw a punch, etc, and intent is a part of those observable behaviors.

ps I have similar interests as you I guess. Based on my reading, I think the older conception of self in Buddhism (if you take Therevada as being representative of a closer to "original" Buddhist POV) is something metaphysical that is upstream of all aspects of mind anyway-- consider that one of the beings you can be reincarnated as is a being with no mind, just body. It's one of the creatures in a higher realm than our world. It can live and die and produce effects in the world, thus can accumulate karma. But has no volition at all! That supposedly can be one of the past or future lives of any of us, but the "self" is something that is equally at home in there, or in our body, or in an ant's! Wacky stuff.

Jonathan,

What do you mean by 'upstream' and 'downstream' in this post? You are using a metaphor here, but I think you need to substitute something else. Otherwise the problem of méconnaissance can arise, explained in TIE 27.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
09-06-2015, 03:16 PM
Well, 30 years ago, but yes. I started reading her books as a result of my interest in Wittgenstein. I must admit I'm much more happy with Wittgenstein and then Austin and Searle, however, when it comes to these topics. I may have to find my old copy of intention by Anscombe, though, now that you mention it, as I don't think I really gave it a proper chance when I read it way back then.

Regardless, IMHO even Anscombe's discussion (as I remember it) only scratches the surface of the myriad of things being talked about in this thread (or are being implied by various posts). There seem to be notes of "intention" as a physiological phenomena ("mental" intent driving subtle physical changes), intent in the sense of a mental state of purpose, intent in the sense of the "meaning" (or future intent?) of the physical action, and so on. And the "scientific approaches" seem to be some special cases of some of those things. Anyway, I do tend to glaze up fairly quickly when the topic comes up as I find that most are speaking right past each other with very different ideas as to the details of what they're discussing. Now that I think about it discussions like these are why I was so attracted to Austin, Peirce and Searle. After a while reading these philosophers it's quite easy to find yourself tossing up your hands and walking out the room muttering "oh, whatever, we'll never get anywhere on this."

Which is how I felt reading some of the posts on this thread.

So, as I said before, carry on. It's all good. And it's got me digging out some old favorites again. I just keep ending up feeling like my ability to understand even common language and hence my reality is diminishing daily. At some point, I'm just going to be a blithering idiot muttering non-sequiturs in the corner (although I'm sure some think I've already attained that level here). :D

Well, as a famous actor once stated in a famous film, "I know exactly what you mean." :straightf

PAG

Keith Larman
09-06-2015, 08:41 PM
And it just keeps coming no matter what you do. Take care.

JW
09-07-2015, 09:44 PM
Jonathan,

What do you mean by 'upstream' and 'downstream' in this post? You are using a metaphor here, but I think you need to substitute something else. Otherwise the problem of méconnaissance can arise, explained in TIE 27.

Best wishes,

PAG
Hi, I haven't read the whole thread but just to reply-- I was using the terms in the biology sense (considering the neuroscience angle from Cliff), but maybe misplaced here.
The generic idea being that signal transduction (any cascade of changes that occur due to some initial event) procedes in a certain direction. So with reference to any point in the cascade, there is an upstream and downstream direction. It's just the direction of causality, like in a line of falling dominos.

What I meant specifically:
A volitional movement has such a cascade, like

Plan/goal-->desire to act-->cortical premotor activity-->APA (http://jn.physiology.org/content/97/6/4368.short)-->alpha motoneuron firing-->muscle contraction

Now we don't know for sure what "intent" is but it is most likely in the region of APA above. That is to say, it is close to activation of the motor units necessary for the volitional movement, but separate from it (and before it). But you can see it is downstream of the desire/idea of doing the movement. "Xin" would be the desire above, and "yi" would be the intent that we are talking about that is between desire and motor unit activation.

My point was that the feeling of volition is at the beginning of this cascade, whereas motor intent is more downstream. So that means the "who" in the question of who is calling the shots is a separate, and bigger, question from how intent works to manage force in the motor system.

kewms
09-08-2015, 11:55 AM
How does the chain for non-volitional, reflex responses differ?

My (crude) understanding, is that many of the "magic" effects seen in high-level aikido come from interrupting the volitional chain with something that causes a non-volitional response.

Katherine

Erick Mead
09-08-2015, 03:13 PM
How does the chain for non-volitional, reflex responses differ?

My (crude) understanding, is that many of the "magic" effects seen in high-level aikido come from interrupting the volitional chain with something that causes a non-volitional response.

I summarized some of this, with some studies available way back when. (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=232085&postcount=4) A couple of links are expired but the Wayback Machine (https://web.archive.org/web/) is a mighty ally ...

Visual discrimination tasks are on the order of 500-2000ms,with wide variation.

Volitional latency without discrimination is anywhere between 125-300ms centered on about 215ms.

Highly trained actions push the 90-100ms boundary.

Monosynaptic spinal reflexes clock in at between 10 and 40ms depending on the strength of the stimulus. Nikkyo and sankyo clearly deploy these as do the more subtle aiki sage and aiki age, respectively.

Cortically processed sensations (vice the nociceptor reflexes) are about 50-60ms one-way. Polysynaptic postural recovery signals are also on this order of latency.

So by the time the volitional brain has caught up to a triggered spinal reflex action, about five other things may have happened, and the sensation of what happened arrives at about the same time as the postural recovery signal of the reflexive reaction to the disturbance and there is complete confusion on what is happening, and in what order, much less what to do about any of it other than flailing about.

JW
09-08-2015, 05:32 PM
How does the chain for non-volitional, reflex responses differ?

My (crude) understanding, is that many of the "magic" effects seen in high-level aikido come from interrupting the volitional chain with something that causes a non-volitional response.

Katherine

So this is more regarding the uke then, as opposed to the nage role that I think the OP focused on. I agree this is highly pertinent to aiki.

Well, there is at least 2 main types of involuntary movement to mention.

The spinal reflexes (sensory receptor-->alpha neuron-->muscle contraction) are fast and subconscious, but less interesting I think. They are interesting for striking, but as yet I don't believe these are in aiki age/sage etc. Joint locks like nikkyo I could believe trigger a reflex but I wouldn't expect it to be a reflex that contributes to the "shape" of the technique. (The sankyo variation that omits hand/wrist manipulation works fine as taijutsu, though it would not trigger any stretch reflex in the wrist muscles.)

More interesting is the other kind of involuntary movement, the type that involves the brain. The introduction and refs in the embedded link (click "APA") in my above post looks like a good start for this. I haven't had time to finish reading it myself though!

Upshot there is that in general, all volitional movements need some associated involuntary motor actions to go along with them. These are mainly to stabilize posture during the movement, and beyond that maybe they're also for making power available. In terms of the order of the "chain" of signals, that is exactly what is being debated in the linked paper. These may be co-triggered by your attempt to do a movement, like a line of dominos that has a fork in the road, but maybe not.

Beyond APAs, volitionally-initiated or volitionally-motivated movements include subconscious action within themselves-- motor control simply isn't entirely conscious. The cerebellum for instance is certainly involved in your movements all the time, yet none of its processing is "visible" to consciousness. It stops your movements from being jerky/out of control, and keeps you from overshooting your reach/gait, etc. Sounds familiar...

Basically my working hypothesis is:
There is a fairly independent sensorimotor control system that is not conscious, and it involves the cerebellum, muscle spindles, and other sensory receptors. It's function would be to continuously make sure volitional action is possible by providing prerequisite stability and strength. It's like 2 parallel rows of dominos (with some crosstalk of course). One is your volitional movements, the other is this system. Your body can talk to this system fairly directly through the language of tension in the soft tissues of the body, and through manipulation of where weight is positioned. So if you can influence this system enough, you can restrict or influence the options that the conscious mind has to choose from. And, you can do it dynamically, so that your influence stays a step ahead of his ability to choose to act.

Ultimately, I would hope that you could use this system to produce a complete throw, regardless of what his conscious mind is trying to choose to do. He would fall without knowing why.

kewms
09-08-2015, 06:11 PM
Basically my working hypothesis is:
There is a fairly independent sensorimotor control system that is not conscious, and it involves the cerebellum, muscle spindles, and other sensory receptors. It's function would be to continuously make sure volitional action is possible by providing prerequisite stability and strength. It's like 2 parallel rows of dominos (with some crosstalk of course). One is your volitional movements, the other is this system. Your body can talk to this system fairly directly through the language of tension in the soft tissues of the body, and through manipulation of where weight is positioned. So if you can influence this system enough, you can restrict or influence the options that the conscious mind has to choose from. And, you can do it dynamically, so that your influence stays a step ahead of his ability to choose to act.

Ultimately, I would hope that you could use this system to produce a complete throw, regardless of what his conscious mind is trying to choose to do. He would fall without knowing why.

And I would imagine that the secondary system is trainable, and that in fact most motor skills involve training it to some degree. Certainly an NBA player isn't consciously thinking out the steps in a pick-and-roll or a jump shot, any more than a senior aikidoka thinks through the irimi-tenkan footwork or the mechanics of a forward roll.

The "fall without knowing why" experience is pretty common in aikido. Sounds like you're on the right track to me.

Katherine

JW
09-08-2015, 07:11 PM
And I would imagine that the secondary system is trainable, and that in fact most motor skills involve training it to some degree. Certainly an NBA player isn't consciously thinking out the steps in a pick-and-roll or a jump shot, any more than a senior aikidoka thinks through the irimi-tenkan footwork or the mechanics of a forward roll.

The "fall without knowing why" experience is pretty common in aikido. Sounds like you're on the right track to me.

Katherine

Certainly, and there is already literature on plasticity/learning of APAs for instance (I think it's called acquisition of APA, as in, acquisition of a good, fast, and robust APA that can be executed as a unit). I think a big part of what people mean by "muscle memory" is the learning that occurs in this subconscious support/power system.

I guess any motor skill that is not purely "fine motor skill" involves learning in this system.

Peter Goldsbury
09-08-2015, 10:19 PM
Hi, I haven't read the whole thread but just to reply-- I was using the terms in the biology sense (considering the neuroscience angle from Cliff), but maybe misplaced here.
The generic idea being that signal transduction (any cascade of changes that occur due to some initial event) procedes in a certain direction. So with reference to any point in the cascade, there is an upstream and downstream direction. It's just the direction of causality, like in a line of falling dominos.

What I meant specifically:
A volitional movement has such a cascade, like

Plan/goal-->desire to act-->cortical premotor activity-->APA (http://jn.physiology.org/content/97/6/4368.short)-->alpha motoneuron firing-->muscle contraction

Now we don't know for sure what "intent" is but it is most likely in the region of APA above. That is to say, it is close to activation of the motor units necessary for the volitional movement, but separate from it (and before it). But you can see it is downstream of the desire/idea of doing the movement. "Xin" would be the desire above, and "yi" would be the intent that we are talking about that is between desire and motor unit activation.

My point was that the feeling of volition is at the beginning of this cascade, whereas motor intent is more downstream. So that means the "who" in the question of who is calling the shots is a separate, and bigger, question from how intent works to manage force in the motor system.

Yes, I see. Your use of cascade continues the water metaphor. Your use of 'signal traduction' (which I gather relates to cell biology and the responses produced in response to a signal) seems to mean the same as the domino effect, though I suspect that it is more complicated. So, we have a cascade and things occurring upstream and downstream, but I think it is a further step to state or suggest that they are causally related and I also doubt whether causation adequately explains intentional action without a lot more qualification.

To see what I mean, consider a set of scenes in the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. At some point Benjamin (Brad Pitt) receives a telegram to the effect that Daisy (Cate Blanchett) has had a serious road accident. Benjamin goes to Paris and as he climbs the stairs in the hospital he thinks out loud and gives an account of what happened. He gives a lengthy sequence of discrete events that culminated in the accident and notes that if only one thing had happened differently, the accident might not have happened. However, it will not do to state that this chain of events simply caused the accident.

Of course, you might respond that your concerns, as expressed in your posts, are quite different from the issues relating to intentional or unintentional action, but both accounts are highly relevant to the rather absolute claims made in the thread title.

Best wishes,

JW
09-09-2015, 03:42 PM
So, we have a cascade and things occurring upstream and downstream, but I think it is a further step to state or suggest that they are causally related and I also doubt whether causation adequately explains intentional action without a lot more qualification.

OK I see the problem-- I am only familiar with some of the neuroscience aspect of this picture, not with the philosphy background.

Science seeks to eventually reveal causality in the nature of events in the universe, so I typically take it as given that the world has causality. I think it is fair to suggest that causality exists in each and every event in the universe, even if causality can only be described as a requisite change in probabilities (a kind of "causal influence" rather than determinism). "Difference that makes a difference" and all that. If this sort of basic, understandable causality was not thought to underlie nature, there would be no hotly debated "black hole information paradox" in physics that has gotten press for a while. And, most of biology would lose its momentum, since teasing apart causation and mere correlation is such a major driving force in the field.

My posts presuppose that:

1. A series of events that is sequentially causal does exist between when an animal decides to make a motor action and when the movement takes place
2. The series of events includes some neural activity in the brain "upstream" of events in the periphery
3. Some of the brain events constitute neural correlates of mental states
4. The feeling of consciousness may be a neural phenomenon that includes part of the chain.

We know for instance that muscle fibers contract as a result of alpha motor neuron firing, in a demonstrably causal way. We know of areas of the brain (motor cortex) that contain neurons which project onto those motor neurons, which can cause them to fire. We know that those premotor neurons in turn receive their own projections, etc. We don't have everything mapped out, but some amount of a causal chain appears to exist.

At any rate, if "intent" in the martial arts sense were to be found (through experiments using imaging, recording, stim, etc) to mean something like "activation of coordinated sets of gamma motoneurons, which is to be paired with activation of the alpha motoneurons appropriate for the movement in question," then we don't need to get too crazy about metaphysical issues... it's just a part of how the brain controls the body. Very mechanical and much removed from questions about free will, consciousness, etc. Also I realize may be interpretting the word "intent" differently than others!

Peter Goldsbury
09-09-2015, 07:09 PM
OK I see the problem-- I am only familiar with some of the neuroscience aspect of this picture, not with the philosphy background.

Science seeks to eventually reveal causality in the nature of events in the universe, so I typically take it as given that the world has causality. I think it is fair to suggest that causality exists in each and every event in the universe, even if causality can only be described as a requisite change in probabilities (a kind of "causal influence" rather than determinism). "Difference that makes a difference" and all that. If this sort of basic, understandable causality was not thought to underlie nature, there would be no hotly debated "black hole information paradox" in physics that has gotten press for a while. And, most of biology would lose its momentum, since teasing apart causation and mere correlation is such a major driving force in the field.

My posts presuppose that:

1. A series of events that is sequentially causal does exist between when an animal decides to make a motor action and when the movement takes place
2. The series of events includes some neural activity in the brain "upstream" of events in the periphery
3. Some of the brain events constitute neural correlates of mental states
4. The feeling of consciousness may be a neural phenomenon that includes part of the chain.

We know for instance that muscle fibers contract as a result of alpha motor neuron firing, in a demonstrably causal way. We know of areas of the brain (motor cortex) that contain neurons which project onto those motor neurons, which can cause them to fire. We know that those premotor neurons in turn receive their own projections, etc. We don't have everything mapped out, but some amount of a causal chain appears to exist.

At any rate, if "intent" in the martial arts sense were to be found (through experiments using imaging, recording, stim, etc) to mean something like "activation of coordinated sets of gamma motoneurons, which is to be paired with activation of the alpha motoneurons appropriate for the movement in question," then we don't need to get too crazy about metaphysical issues... it's just a part of how the brain controls the body. Very mechanical and much removed from questions about free will, consciousness, etc. Also I realize may be interpretting the word "intent" differently than others!

My initial post on this topic took up your use of water metaphor to explain what you think is happening when someone does something or intends to do something. I do not think anyone would deny that nature, understood in a broad sense, is believed to exhibit causality; I certainly do not. I was more concerned to make clearer what you assumed or took for granted in your use of the water metaphor: what you thought was involved in a causal explanation, whether in 'hard' theoretical science or in other areas where intention or intentional action is displayed.

This article, http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2014/entries/scientific-explanation/, presents some issues involved.

Best wishes,

JW
09-10-2015, 02:16 AM
Thank you! Looks like my "want to read" list is getting longer still! I'm moving to a new city but maybe after, I'll have time for things like this. That link looks to be a few paragraphs shorter than the average TIE, but even harder to digest.

Peter Goldsbury
09-10-2015, 02:29 AM
Don't mention it.

The following deal with related subjects, but at a less technical level.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/explanat/
http://www.iep.utm.edu/int-ext/
http://www.iep.utm.edu/int-ex-ml/

This will give you some idea of how Keith Larman and I tend to approach the subjects of this thread.

Best wishes

Erick Mead
09-10-2015, 09:42 PM
The spinal reflexes (sensory receptor-->alpha neuron-->muscle contraction) are fast and subconscious, but less interesting I think. They are interesting for striking, but as yet I don't believe these are in aiki age/sage etc. Joint locks like nikkyo I could believe trigger a reflex but I wouldn't expect it to be a reflex that contributes to the "shape" of the technique. (The sankyo variation that omits hand/wrist manipulation works fine as taijutsu, though it would not trigger any stretch reflex in the wrist muscles.)

For reference: http://neuroscience.uth.tmc.edu/s3/chapter02.html

Basically, as I see it, aiki age and aiki sage do not so much exploit the activation aspect of the spinal reflex on the triggered muscle group as they do in triggering the reciprocal inhibition of the opposing muscle group, creating an unbalanced force condition. It reads "weird" to the person affected because the reactive stability signals to the reciprocal groups are stymied but those to the activated groups are unimpeded, and the result doubles down on the error.

Applied in-phase -- this results in fairly spectacular pops and drops. Out of phase, it locks uke up. Since the insertions of the muscles are along spiral paths, this both causes and is particularly sensitive to axial torques. Sankyo and nikkyo illustrate this reciprocal torque relationship. Sankyo torques one way resulting in a "pop" of the extensors causing a rise to the toes; Nikkyo torques the other way resulting in a "drop" as the flexors fold the legs. Kotegaeshi does this as well - but nikkyo isolates the focus with reinforcing torques applied from both ends of the limb segment.

ken king
09-11-2015, 06:12 PM
You guys are smart