RE: computationalism and supervenience

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2006 18:52:12 +1000

Brent meeker writes:

> > We would understand it in a third person sense but not in a first person sense, except by analogy with our
> > own first person experience. Consciousness is the difference between what can be known by observing an
> > entity and what can be known by being the entity, or something like the entity, yourself.
> >
> > Stathis Papaioannou
> But you are simply positing that there is such a difference. That's easy to do
> because we know so little about how brains work. But consider the engine in your
> car. Do you know what it's like to be the engine in your car? You know a lot about
> it, but how do you know that you know all of it? Does that mean your car engine is
> conscious? I'd say yes it is (at a very low level) and you *can* know what it's like.

No, I don't know what it's like to be the engine in my car. I would guess it isn't like anything, but I might be wrong.
If I am wrong, then my car engine may indeed be conscious, but in a completely alien way, which I cannot
understand no matter how much I learn about car mechanics, because I am not myself a car engine. I think
the same would happen if we encountered an alien civilization. We would probably assume that they were
conscious because we would observe that they exhibit intelligent behaviour, but only if by coincidence they
had sensations, emotions etc. which reminded us of our own would we be able to guess what their conscious
experience was actually like, and even then we would not be sure.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Thu Sep 14 2006 - 04:53:08 PDT

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