Re: Dreaming On

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Sat, 22 Aug 2009 11:06:10 -0700

Bruno Marchal wrote:
> On 21 Aug 2009, at 22:01, Brent Meeker wrote:
>> Flammarion wrote:
>>> Do you think that if you scanned my brain right down to the atomic
>>> level,
>>> you still wouldn't have captured all the information?
>> That's an interesting question and one that I think relates to the
>> importance of context. A scan of your brain would capture all the
>> information in the Shannon/Boltzman sense, i.e. it would determine
>> which
>> of the possible configurations and processes were realized. However,
>> those concerned about the "hard problem", will point out that this
>> misses the fact that the information represents or "means" something.
>> To know the meaning of the information would require knowledge of the
>> world in which the brain acts and perceives, including a lot of
>> evolutionary history. Image scanning the brain of an alien found
>> in a
>> crash at Roswell. Without knowledge of how he acts and the
>> evolutionary
>> history of his species it would be essentially impossible to guess the
>> meaning of the patterns in his brain. My point is that it is not just
>> computation that is consciousness or cognition, but computation with
>> meaning, which means within a certain context of action.
> If the context, or even the whole physical universe, is needed, it is
> part of the "generalized" brain. Either the "generalized" brain is
> Turing emulable, and the reversal reasoning will proceed, or it is
> not, and the digital mechanist thesis has to be abandoned.

That's what makes the point interesting. Many, even most,
materialists suppose that a brain can be replaced by functionally
identical elements with no dimunition of consciousness and that a
brain is Turing-emulable BUT the "generalized brain" may not be
Turing-emulable. I personally would say no to a doctor who proposed
to replace the whole physical universe (and me) with an emulation.


> Humans, and actually, any mechanical entity cannot understand their
> own patterns in their brains, but we don't need to do that to be able
> to "use" our brain and be conscious. If the crash at Roswell has not
> demolished the brain of E.T., or if the scan of his brain his
> faithful, so that his brain can be reconstituted, nobody has to
> understand the brain pattern for the E.T. himself to have an
> experience of his consciousness.
>> In fact the fact that we can't see the workings of consciousness is
>> inherent it it. We see through it.
> Exactly, and this can related to what I say above.
>> It is notorious that thoughts come
>> into consciousness with no discernible cause - as in the Poincare
>> effect.
> That is most plausible, and there are evidence that life (notably the
> heart and the brain) exploits the so called deterministic chaos (like
> in Verhulst bifurcation, and the Mandelbrot set).
> Bruno
> >

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Received on Sat Aug 22 2009 - 11:06:10 PDT

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