Re: Dreaming On

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Sat, 29 Aug 2009 23:38:17 +1000

2009/8/29 Brent Meeker <>:

>>> I actually expect that our consciousness is very crude, compared to
>>> the information theoretic content of our perception and our biological
>>> function, and we could be easily fooled by the doctor.  Suppose we get
>>> a brain that makes the sky look different - but one that forgets how
>>> the sky used to look.
>> Yes, you're right. But I'd pay more to keep everything just the same.
> But if you take conscious experience as fundamental there's no other
> standard of sameness.  It is only because we believe in the
> independent reality "out there" that being fooled makes sense.  If the
>  doctor was also creating a simulation of the sky there would be no
> sense to saying the sky looks different but we are fooled into
> thinking it looks the same.

That is an interesting point: you need an external reality against
which the simulation can be measured in order to be able to say that
it is a faithful simulation. So, if I had to choose a brain
replacement I would choose one that had objectively been shown to be
functionally equivalent to the original. An example of such an
objective test would be previous recipients who claim to feel the same
as before and whose family and friends is unable to notice any
significant change in behaviour. Of course, it is possible that I
could be perfectly happy with an imperfect brain replacement, where
others notice a change in my behaviour but I don't myself, but pushing
this too far leads to absurdity: I might be happy if a wicked witch
turned me into a toad, since as a toad I wouldn't remember or miss
being human.

If there is no objective external world but it's all part of the
simulation then you're right, there's no sense in saying the sky looks
different but I'm fooled into thinking it looks the same, unless this
is relative to other conscious beings in the same simulated world.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Sat Aug 29 2009 - 23:38:17 PDT

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