Re: computer pain

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2006 11:10:57 -0800

Bruno Marchal wrote:
> Le 17-déc.-06, à 21:11, Brent Meeker a écrit :
>> If consciousness is the creation of an inner narrative to be stored in
>> long-term memory then there are levels of consciousness. The amoeba
>> forms no memories and so is not conscious at all. A dog forms memories
>> and even has some understanding of symbols (gestures, words) and so is
>> conscious. In between there are various degress of consciousness
>> corresponding to different complexity and scope of learning.
> Miscellaneous remarks:
> It seems to me that consciousness can exist without narrative, and
> without long term memory.
> The question if the amoeba forms memories could depends on the time
> scale. After all amoebas are pluri-molecular mechanism exchanging
> information (through viruses?) in some way. I would not bet on the
> unconsciousness of amoebas on large time scale.
Then you have adopted some new meaning of "consciousness". If you stretch "consciousness" to fit every exchange or storage of information then everything in the universe is conscious and we will need to invent a new word to distinguish conscious people from unconscious ones.
>>> Bruno:
>>> Because ethics and aesthetics modalities are of an higher order than
>>> arithmetic which can be considered as deeper and/or simpler.
>>> Classical arithmetical truth obeys classical logic which is the most
>>> efficient for describing platonia. Good and bad is related with the
>>> infinite self mirroring of an infinity of universal machines: it is
>>> infinitely more tricky, and in particular neither classical ethics nor
>>> aesthetics should be expected to follow classical logic.
>> That seems unnecessarily complicated. Good and bad at the personal
>> "Whahooh!" and "Ouch!" are easily explained as consequences of
>> evolution and natural selection.
> Here is perhaps a deep disagreement (which could explain others). I can
> understand that the 3-personal "OUCH" can easily be explained as a
> consequences of evolution and natural selection, for example by saying
> that the "OUCH" uttered by an animal could attract the attention of its
> fellows on the presence of a danger, so natural selection can ....
> But, and here is the crux of the mind body problem, if such an
> explanation explains completely the non personal "Whahooh/Ouch" then it
> does not explain at all the first personal "OUCH". Worst: it makes such
> a personal feeling completely useless ... And then it makes the very
> notion of Good and Bad pure non sense.
I took your use of the words "ouch" and "whahooh" as referring equally to one's inner feelings, and as metaphors for the feelings of inarticulate beings, not only as literal expositions.
Brent Meeker
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Received on Mon Dec 18 2006 - 14:11:20 PST

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