This was a very interesting discussion.
My main thought is, what if you abandon all Cartesian prejudice? The question that immediately arises is how do dimensions arise? I think we want to avoid any question of preprogramming as long as possible, and see how far we can get on the basis of sequence flow alone. What is interesting is that we all seem to come up with more or less the same dimensions with which to analyse our sensorium. But then, most of them seem to be based strongly on the characteristics of the signal: frequency and amplitude for hearing; the five basic tastes; on or off, hot or cold, and bodily location for touch. Though touch appears to gather some sequence based refinement in the form of texture. Vision seems less direct, with biases coming from related signals such as eye position, other motor inputs and simultaneous touch sensations.
There is also some evidence of variation in development. Is being tone deaf a dimensional development issue? Or one thinks of the undoubted musicality of Evelyn Glennie through touch alone. Does her ability go so far down into the wiring as a dimension?
Another influence may be the fact that most sensor input is not passive. One thinks of a baby learning to focus. Or a little later on, switching static and varying areas of the visual field by learning to track a moving object. What drives this development? One is tempted to argue for a predisposition to maximise information input. This might also explain some reactions in the other senses: revulsion for certain smells might be cultural, but I don’t think we ever teach anybody to hate the sound of nails scraping down a blackboard. Maybe we just don’t like things that swamp all other input from a sense. On the other hand, preprogramming the ability to track the movement of an inbound threat seems like an evolutionary smart thing to do.
But on the whole it seems imaginable that dimensions arise purely out of the sensory flow. So one thinks about experimenting with a variety of inputs to see what dimensions arise. What mechanism might be used? What if a lot of dimensional mud is thrown at the wall in the form of multiple different samplings from the flow of SDRs? Dimensions that experience repeated sequences are reinforced, those that do not wither away. Dimensions that experience sequences that are proximate in that they move in synchrony might compete, with the strongest suppressing their neighbours.
Is anything like this remotely plausible?
A secondary thought arising from this is to wonder how fundamental the question of scale is. It only seems to arise for vision, it makes no obvious sense for the other senses. Then consider talking to a person blind from birth. What is remarkable is how few deficits, if any, they have as a person. But how could scale arise in their world? Things are in reach, or they are not. They are smaller or larger based on direct motor feedback. Velocity is only available through secondary cues: am I walking or running; can I feel wind on my face. In a car, the evidence is weak. One thinks of the philosophers examining an elephant. The only real indication is that other places take more or less time to get to. Thinking about movement around a familiar room, path integration is used, as well as re-anchoring when arriving at a main touch point, but I’m struggling to see why scale arises as something deep in the wiring. Recognition considerations are much the same for a large dog versus a small dog or a dog that is either close or far away. Scale only becomes interesting when I’m planning to reach the dog (or worrying about whether the dog can reach me), which seems like a higher-order activity.