Re: 3 possible views of "consciousness"

From: <>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001 22:33:56 EST

"Jesse Mazer" <>:
> [re: rock is a good implementation of any computation]
> It depends what you mean by "good implementation." The context of my
> comment above was, *if* you believe there is a single true set of
> psychophysical laws, are the laws likely to be defined in terms of
> "computation" or not? If you don't believe in these sorts of laws,
> then the question of what's a "good" implementation is somewhat
> academic--it's really just a question of what's the neatest way to
> define our terms.

Many of the people on this list (in common with a lot of western
philosophy at least since Descartes) are hoping to construct their
existence measures on the bedrock of the objectively decidable
self-awareness. They've built very interesting structures, but you
may notice there's been no progress at all on stabilizing the
foundation. Instead we have on this list the same debates that
endlessly, repetitively and inconclusively flood,
never mind philosophy journals and books.

Gerard O'Neill, the late Princeton physicist best known for his space
colony studies, once said that if you met a race that insisted that
logical developments must be built step by step from a firm
foundation, you could be pretty sure they were planet dwellers. Races
that live in space realize that it's perfectly OK to build structures
that have no foundation at all. They can be circular and unsupported,
yet if you spin them they'll have gravity just like the ponderous
planetary piles!

I think your insistence on the absolute underpinning of an objective
consciousness is just planet-bound thinking. Bruno's, Juergen's,
Russell's or Max Tegmark's analyses can just as well be built on
arbitrary selections of what's conscious (Turing test passers?
biological brains? red-haired people? teddy bears?). The teddy bear
universes may have different probabilities than the biological brain
universes or the Turing test universes, but so what? Each is as
likely to be self-consistent as another.

i.e. You don't have to give up the goals of this list just because you
don't believe there is an objective fact of the matter to

> My question for you is, does your Platonic view of things rule out
> the idea of a single global theory of consciousness?

Don't need it, don't want it.

> I believe that there is more to me than my outward actions.

So does a lookup table. Just ask it, it will tell you all about
its complex motives and internal mental life.

> I'm making the assumption that there's *some* set of objective
> psychophysical laws, and that these laws would tell you a lookup
> table doesn't give rise to the same experiences as a detailed
> simulation.

Groundhog! I make no such assumption.
Received on Mon Feb 12 2001 - 19:44:16 PST

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