Re: Emulation and Stuff

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 2009 22:43:38 -0700

David Nyman wrote:
> 2009/8/17 Flammarion <>:
>> Yep. I have no problem with any of that
> Really? Let's see then.....
>>> The "paraphrase" condition means, for example, that instead of adopting a statement
>>> like "unicorns have one horn" as a true statement about reality and thus being
>>> forced to accept the existence of unicorns, you could instead paraphrase this in
>>> terms of what images and concepts are in people's mind when they use the word
>>> "unicorn"; and if you're an eliminative materialist who wants to avoid accepting
>>> mental images and concepts as a basic element of your ontology, it might seem
>>> plausible that you could *in principle* paraphrase all statements about human
>>> concepts using statements about physical processes in human brains, although we may
>>> lack the understanding to do that now.
> I presume that one could substitute 'computation' for 'unicorn' in the above passage?
> If so, the human concept that it is 'computation' that gives rise to consciousness
> could be "paraphrased using statements about physical processes in human brains". So
> what may we now suppose gives such processes this particular power? Presumably not
> their 'computational' nature - because now "nous n'avons pas besoin de cette
> hypothèse-là" (which I'm sure you will recall was precisely the point I originally
> made). It seems to me that what one can recover from this is simply the hypothesis
> that certain brain processes give rise to consciousness in virtue of their being
> precisely the processes that they are - no more, no less.

No less, but some more. Compare the concept that chemistry gives rise to life. As we
have come to understand life we see that it has lots of sub-processes and there are
different kinds suited to different environments. We can manipulate some aspects of life,
e.g. genetic engineering. So we did get more than just certain chemical processes give
rise to life in virtue of being the processes they are. The very concept of life is now
seen to be a fuzzy abstraction with no definite meaning.


> Am I still missing something?
> David

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Received on Mon Aug 17 2009 - 22:43:38 PDT

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