Re: Consciousness is information?

From: Kelly Harmon <>
Date: Wed, 27 May 2009 03:05:22 -0400

On Mon, May 25, 2009 at 11:21 AM, Bruno Marchal <> wrote:
> Actually I still have no clue of what you mean by "information".

Well, I don't think I can say it much better than I did before:

In my view, there are ungrounded abstract symbols that acquire
meaning via constraints placed on them by their relationships to other
symbols. The only "grounding" comes from the conscious experience
that is intrinsic to a particular set of relationships. To repeat my
earlier Chalmers quote, "Experience is information from the inside;
physics is information from the outside." It is this subjective
experience of information that provides meaning to the otherwise
completely abstract "platonic" symbols.

Going a little further: I would say that the relationships between
the symbols that make up a particular mental state have some sort of
consistency, some regularity, some syntax - so that when these
syntactical relationships are combined with the symbols it does make
up some sort of descriptive language. A language that is used to
describe a state of mind. Here we're well into the realm of semiotics
I think.

To come back to our disagreement, what is it that a Turing machine
does that results in consciousness? It would seem to me that
ultimately what a Turing machine does is manipulate symbols according
to specific rules. But is it the process of manipulating the symbols
that produces consciousness? OR is it the state of the symbols and
their relationships with each other AFTER the manipulation which
really accounts for consciousness?

I say the latter. You seem to be saying the former...or maybe you're
saying it's both?

As I've mentioned, I think that the symbols which combine to create a
mental state can be manipulated in MANY ways. And algorithms just
serve as descriptions of these ways. But subjective consciousness is
in the states, not in how the states are manipulated.

> With different probabilities. That is why we are partially responsible
> of our future. This motivates education and learning, and commenting
> posts ...

In my view, life is just something that we experience. That's it.
There's nothing more to life than subjective experience. The feeling
of being an active participant, of making decisions, of planning, of
choosing, is only that: a feeling. A type of qualia.

Okay, it's past my bedtime, I'll do probability tomorrow!

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Received on Wed May 27 2009 - 03:05:22 PDT

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