Re: The Irreducibility of Consciousness

From: John M <>
Date: Fri, 4 Aug 2006 18:35:45 -0400

Dear Stathis,
you touched a 'conscious/' nerve in me.
Let me concentrate on your text and interleave my remarks and questions.
John M
----- Original Message -----
From: "Stathis Papaioannou" <>
To: "Tom Caylor" <>
Sent: Thursday, August 03, 2006 9:37 PM
Subject: RE: The Irreducibility of Consciousness

Tom Caylor writes:

> I totally agree that consciousness requires "outside" interaction.
> That's the way we are. We are living beings that exist in a world.
> We, as we are, couldn't exist otherwise. Things happen. We interact.
> We make other things happen. The question of consciousness is a
> contradiction. The question is trying to reduce consciousness to
> something less than it is. Even Bruno's number world leads him to
> believe in the irreducibility of consciousness. It is a mystery. We
> need to get off of our modern reductionistic thrones or we will die
> before we live....
Stathis's text:
It's one thing to say that consciousness has evolved to interact with
the world, would not develop in a particular individual without the
appropriate interaction, and wouldn't be of much use without the
possibility of such interaction, but quite another thing to say that
therefore it *must* be this way. We can only deduce that there is a
physical world out there on the basis of patterns of neurons firing in
our cerebral cortex.

"to interact" looks to me as a purpose, what I don't find in the natural
processes, only consequences (for change). And does your "on the basis" mean
origination - source? or at the most a parallel phenomenon to who knows
what? I know you meant it, but you ose us to point out the 'reasons' for
those firings. In this way somebody could think on an 'inside' generated
image of "reality" one thinks about.
Are you suggesting that a brain with the same
pattern of neurons firing, but without the appropriate environmental
stimulus, would not have exactly the same conscious experience?

Show me, I am an experimentalist. First show two brains with the same
pattern of (ALL!) neuron firings. Two extracted identical firings in a
superdupercomplex brain is meaningless.
Then, please, show me (experimentally) the non-identity of environmental
impacts reaching 2 different brains from the unlimited interaction of the
(I wrote already that I do not approve thought-experiments).
You felt like that in the following sentence:
That would imply some sort of extra-sensory perception, and there is
no evidence for such a thing. It is perfectly consistent with all the facts
to say that consciousness results from patterns of neurons firing in the
brain, and that if the same neurons fired, the same experience would
result regardless of what actually caused those neurons to fire.

regardless also of the 'rest of the brain'? Would you pick one of the
billions copmpleting the brainwork complexity and match it to a similar one
in a different complexity?
But the more relevant question (and I mean it):
What would you identify as (your version) of "consciousness" that "results
from neuron-fiting" consistent with all the facts?
As for consciousness being fundamentally irreducible, I agree

Consider it a singularity, a Ding an Sich? Your statement looks to me as
referring to a "thing". Not a process. Or rather a state? (Awareness??)
It is a fact that when neurons fire in a particular way, a conscious
experience results; possibly, complex enough electronic activity in a
digital computer might also result in conscious experience, although we
cannot be sure of that. But this does not mean that the conscious experience
*is* the brain or computer activity, even if it could somehow be shown that
the physical process is necessary and sufficient for the experience.

I hope you could share with us your version of that "conscious experience"
as well, which "could" be assigned to a digital computer? What "other"
activity may a digital computer have
beside "electronic"?
It is hard to show in 'parallel' observed phenopmena whether one is
'necessary' for the other, or just observervable in parallel? Maybe "the
other" is necessary for the 'one'?
If you find that the 'physical' process (firing, or electronic) is
SUFFICIENT then probably your definition is such that it allows such
I may question the complexity of the assigned situation
for such simplification,.
Consciousness is something entirely different and, if you like, mysterious,
in a category of its own.

Now you are talking! Thanks

Stathis Papaiaonnou

[JM]:John Mikes

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Received on Fri Aug 04 2006 - 18:38:35 PDT

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