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The Nature of Consciousness
Demystifying Machine Intelligence
Poems and Meditations
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THYMOS
Thymos: Studies on Consciousness, Cognition and Life
piero scaruffi


My book on Consciousness | My personal website | My e-mail | About me | Music | History
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  Web www.scaruffi.com
Research Interests:
  • Cognitive Science,
  • Philosophy of Mind,
  • Artificial Intelligence,
  • Neurobiology,
  • Theoretical Physics


Essays

Independent Workshops

A History of Knowledge

A Timeline of Neuroscience

A Timeline of Artificial Intelligence

A Timeline of Computing

Classics of Psychology

Philosophy
The Nature of Consciousness - The Structure of Life and the Meaning of Matter. Published in winter 2006, basically the reader for the class that i taught at UC Berkeley.
Annotated Bibliography on the Mind. Started when i was at Stanford in 1995 and periodically updated with new book reviews.
News from the scientific world and My opinion pieces
LASERs - Art/Science Evenings in San Francisco
other interdisciplinary events at Stanford, Berkeley, USF, etc.
Logos Lectures. A series of casual lectures from 2006-07.
Seminar on The Nature of Mind, which i have been teaching on and off at UC Berkeley since the mid 1990s.
Seminar on History of Knowledge, which i have been teaching on and off at UC Berkeley since 1998.
Assorted presentations, ranging from Cognitive Science to Silicon Valley.
Audio Interviews
Register to my mailing list. Every two months or so, I send out news and updates on cognitive science and the likes, reviews of books, announcement of conferences, and the status of my book.
Statement of work (2007)
A simple theory of consciousness
On the relationship between Quantum Theory and Relativity Theory
Statement of work (2005)
Statement of work (2000)
Research statement (1995)
Abstract
Papers
Academic Biography
Publications
Education
Academic Resume
Industrial Resume
Theses Supervised
Lectures
Recent reviews:
"Cosmogenesis"
"The Tell-Tale Brain"
"The Concept of Mind"
"Patterns in the Mind"
Recent essays:
  • On the relationship between Quantum Theory and Relativity Theory
  • Language as a neural process
  • Consciousness as multi-track evolution
  • A reductionist explanation of the self
  • The experimental study of consciousness
  • Free Will and Identity
  • Truth
  • Emotions
  • Quantum Consciousness
  • Dreaming
  • Endosymbiosis
  • Artificial Creativity
  • The multi-track evolution of Mind
  • The History of Art: a biological and cognitive perspective
  • Personal Research Statement:

  • The very fundamental idea of my research is that the mental cannot be reduced to the physical and that somehow the property that, under special circumstances, enables a particular configuration of matter (e.g., the brain) to exhibit "consciousness" must be present in all matter, starting from the most fundamental constituents.

  • I think that cognition is a property of all living organisms that comes in (continous) degrees. Memory and learning can be said to be ubiquitous in nature, as long as we assume that they come in degrees.

  • There are striking similarities between the behavior of cognitive (living) matter and the behavior of non-cognitive (dead) matter (a piece of paper that is repeatedly bent will tend to "remember" of having been bent by "staying" bent).

  • The "degrees of cognition" that we find ubiquitous in nature can be expressed in the formalism of Fuzzy Logic, but modern physics is built on Quantum Mechanics, which is built on the Theory of Probabilities. A possible starting point for reconciling biological and physical sciences, i.e. for unifying Cognitive Science and Physics, would thus be to replace probabilities with Fuzzy Logic in Quantum Mechanics.
  • Education/Other Relevant Experience:

    Piero received a degree in Mathematics (summa cum laude) in 1982 from University of Turin, where he did work in General Theory of Relativity (mainly applied to black holes) and Theoretical Physics (a unification model for quantum chromodynamics).

    For a number of years he was the head of the Artificial Intelligence Center at Olivetti, based in Cupertino, CA.

    He has written a number of books (all of them in his native Italy) and has published hundreds of articles on publications both in Italy and the U.S.

    He has been a visiting scholar in Artificial Intelligence at Harvard University in 1984 and at the Knowledge System Laboratory of Stanford University in 1995/1996.

    He has lectured at several Universities around the world, and recently taught classes on Formal Theories of the Mind at U.C. Berkeley and at the California Institute for Integral Studies.


    Year 2000 statement of work

    Main technical papers:

    Butera, Scaruffi: "Computer-aided tuning in an expert system for software configuration" (Vienna, Third SPIE Symposium, 1986)

    Logiudice, Scaruffi: "Knowledge Modules: a structure for representing the granularity of real-world knowledge" (Montreal, Sixth Canadian Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 1986)

    Donalisio, Petrone, Scaruffi: "A framework to build expert systems for decision support" (Boston, Second Conference on Applications of A.I., 1987)

    Scaruffi: "Expert Systems for Management" (Osaka, Japanese Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 1987)

    Butera, Iacono, Scaruffi: "A model-based heuristic approach to board troubleshooting" (Detroit, Expert Systems in Manufacturing, 1988)

    Scaruffi, Steccanella, Barbetti: (Madrid, Knowledge Engineering Workshop, 1988) "A model of knowledge communication for building intelligent tutoring systems"

    Ronchi, Butera, Frascari, Scaruffi: "A dual-blackboard architecture for tele-diagnosis" (Artificial Intelligence in Design and Manufacturing [vol.1/2, Academic Press], 1988)

    Scaruffi: "The new wave of personal distributed intelligence" (ACM Computational Intelligence, 1988)

    Scaruffi, Barbetti: "A domain-independent framework for tutoring systems" (ACM/AIE IEA, 1989)

    Chiantore, Perotto, Resta, Scaruffi "An expert system for product configuration" (World Congress on Expert Systems, 1991)

    Qian, Russi, Scaruffi: "Generation of production rules from neural networks" (Intl Symposium on Methodologies for Intelligent Systems, 1991)

    Scaruffi: "Towards unification of cognitive and physical sciences: cognition as a property of matter" (Cognitive Society Conference:, 1996)

    Scaruffi: "The Factory of Illusions: artificial and natural creativity" (Berliner Festspiele 2000, 1999)

    Scaruffi: Consciousness as multi-track evolution (Conference on Consciousness, 2001)

    Scaruffi: A reductionist explanation of the self (Conference on Consciousness, 2001)

    Scaruffi: The experimental study of consciousness (Conference on Consciousness, 2001)

    Scaruffi: Hostility and Identity (Mutamorphosis, 2007)


    List of main lectures and seminars on Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science and Theories of the Mind:

    October 1999: U.C. Berkeley, Extensions, USA

    September 1998: U.C. Berkeley, Extensions, USA

    April 1998: California Institute for Integral Studies, USA

    April 1997: U.C. Berkeley, Extensions, USA

    October 1990: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Department of Systems, Colombia

    May 1989: University of Cagliari, Department of Philosophy, Italy

    August 1988: Monterey Institute for International Studies, USA

    May 1987: University of Bari, Department of Mathematics, Italy


    List of theses supervised:

    Supervised about 20 graduate theses jointly with faculty members of Italian Universities:

    1982) Turin: "A keyed file system for optimized relational access"

    1982) Turin: "A syntax-driven editor for a data management system"

    1984) Turin: "A semantic network based architecture for document retrieval"

    1985) Pisa: "Partitioning a knowledge base into knowledge modules"

    1985) Pisa: "An expert system for quality assurance"

    1986) Pisa: "An integrated parser for text understanding"

    1987) Pisa: "An expert system for board troubleshooting"

    1987) Pisa: "A dual-frame architecture for text understanding"

    1987) Pisa: "A framework for building intelligent decision support systems"

    1988-90) etc etc


    What is Thymos?

    Greek thought evolved an intriguing division of mental life into two souls, the Thymos (pron: "theemos") and the Psyche.

    • The Thymos pertains to the active soul, what we today refer to thought, consciousness, awareness, etc. It was associated with breath, heart and liver. Breath was identified with soul, as in most ancient systems of philosophy (the Hindu "atman" comes from the word for "breathing") and with language (breath is what you need to utter sounds). Liver was reputed to be the origin of emotions (there must have been painful liver diseases at the time :-). The heart was considered the seat of desires and intentions.
    • The Psyche is the immanent soul, independent from the body, a precursor of the eternal soul of Christianity that survives the body in the other world.
    It appears that this was a very ancient belief, predating civilizations, as the same distinction can be found in most ancient cultures: in Egypt there were the ba and ka, in China the p'o and hun, in Judaism the nephesh and the ruach, in Buddhism the kama-manas and the buddhi-manas, in Zoroastrianism the daena and the urvan. Countless esoteric beliefs, all derived from ancient theosophies, distinguish between an active entity (alaya-vijnana, karana-sarira) and a passive entity (manas, suksma-sarira). Interestingly, the concept was abolished by Christianity but resurfaced in Islam (the ruh and the nafs).

    In ancient Greece the Thymos became the active, rational and mortal part of the person (the part that has control over the body), while the Psyche became the quiescent and immortal part of the person.

    The Thymos became a core concept of Socrates' philosophy. In Socrates' theology the doctrine of Thymos is a meditation on the history of philosophy from Homer to Socrates himself, by which Socrates hails the passage from unconscious philosophizing to rational self-consciousness. Interestingly, Socrates warned against the dangers of self-awareness. He warned that consciousness would cost us greatly, both in terms of desire to live and in terms of our harmony with nature. In Plato's late dialogues this contradiction has a happy ending, as Socrates finds in conscious thought the meaning of life itself.

    Platonic philosophy elevated the Thymos above the Psyche. The Psyche is viewed as a sort of lower mind that can connect with either a higher mind (nous), that a Christian may perhaps interpret as God, or with the Thymos, that a Christian cannot interpret because it has no correspondent. Thymos is the cause of anger and passion. In a sense, it is opposite of meditation.


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