Re: The Game of Life

From: <>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 1999 22:41:08 EST

In a message dated 12/21/1999 9:47:12 AM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

> I think this is too strong a definition for consciousness, in that
> it focuses on just one form of consciousness but does not get at the
> essential mystery of the phenomenon.
> It describes what George calls "reflexive consciousness", or awareness of
> the self as an actor. It is intimately tied in with the concept of free
> will, which again is fundamentally based on actions taken.
> But consciousness need not be active. It can be passive, and it can be
> composed of awareness of the outside world, not necessarily awareness
> of the self.
> People sometimes experience such conscious states. While meditating,
> or sometimes while viewing something of great beauty, or maybe simply
> watching a movie, television, or reading a book, we are drawn into a
> passive and observing state. We do not make decisions, we do not think
> about ourselves. We simply and calmly observe what is before us.
> Imagine sitting and watching a beautiful sunset. There is no particular
> awareness of the self, no free will in this state. One is entranced by
> the sight, the slow changes in the magnificent colors. This takes up all
> of the conscious awareness.

I agree with Hal to a certain degree. He is providing interesting examples
which, I think confirm my thesis.

Surely there are several types or degrees of consciousness. The type of
consciousness Hal is alluding to is probably found in deep zen meditation
when nirvana is within reach. At this point, the self (model of the self) has
totally dissolved and one experiences to be one with the universe. The
universe is I and I am the universe.

I submit that in this state of Nirvana, free will does not exist, and the
concept of "I" has evaporated. In this exhalted state we have become a pure
Turing Machine. Congratulations! No self referencing, no recursion, no
reflexion. We are as conscious as a fluid flow simulation. And, by the way,
Turing machines have already reached Nirvana. In this respect, they are way
ahead of us, mere humans.

Is this consciousness? Some people claim it is. In my opinion, the quest for
Nirvana, is the quest for the absence of consciousness while in the awake

Of course, we are not alway trying to fathom our souls and pondering who we
really are inside. And we are not always lost in the poetry of the sunset.
Most of the time we operate somewhere between the nadir of nirvana and the
zenith of total self awareness (or vice versa :-))

I still maintain that the ability to perform as a Turing Machine is a
necessary condition for consciousness, but it is hardly sufficient. The
existence of a mental model for the self (to be used at will I may add) is
the best I could come up with.

> Surely we will agree that this is a fully conscious state. But there
> is no need for a self model or an internal TM to run that model.

I disagree strongly that the this state is a FULLY conscious state. And an
internal model of the self is still necessary to humans even if they have the
ability to zen-meditate, just like a mouth is necessary to them even if
they have the ability to keep quiet.

George Levy
Received on Tue Dec 21 1999 - 19:43:15 PST

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