On Wed, May 04, 2005 at 10:40:46PM +1000, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> I don't see how you could get anywhere if you disregard the relationship 
> between observer moments. It is this relationship which allows grouping of 
> different observer moments to give the effect of a continuous stream of 
> consciousness. The human brain is a machine which produces just such a 
> sequence of observer moments, which bear a temporal relationship with each 
> other consistent with your TIME postulate. But I would still say that these 
> related observer moments are independent of each other in that they are not 
> necessarily physically or causally connected. I base this on real life 
> experience (the fact that I feel I am the same person as I was 10 years ago 
> even though I am now made up of different atoms, in an only approximately 
> similar configuration, giving rise to only approximately similar memories 
> and other mental properties), and on thought experiments where continuity 
> of identity persists despite disruption of the physical and causal link 
> between the earlier and the later set of observer moments (teleportation 
> etc.).

Causality is very much a 1st person emergent phenomenon, governed as
it were by conditional probabilities that evolve according to the
Schroedinger equation. The latter equation is a consequence of 1st
person emergent concepts, such as TIME.
> Another question: what are the implications for the TIME postulate raised 
> by certain mental illnesses, such as cerebral lesions leading to total loss 
> of short term memory, so that each observer moment does indeed seem to be 
> unrelated to the previous ones from the patient's point of view? Or, in 
> psychotic illnesses the patient can display what is known as "formal 
> thought disorder", which in the most extreme cases can present as total 
> fragmentation of all cognitive processes, so that the patient speaks 
> gibberish ("word salad" is actually the technical term), cannot reason at 
> all, appears unable to learn from the past or anticipate the future, and 
> reacts to internal stimuli which seem to vary randomly from moment to 
> moment. In both these cases, the normal subjective sense of time is 
> severely disrupted, but the patient is still fully conscious, and often 
> bewildered and distressed.

These cases are very interesting to examine. The difficulty would be in
establishing whether a sufficiently mentally ill person is in fact
conscious. Since consciousness is a 1st person phenomenon, we only
infer consciousness in others by means of a mental model of the mind
based on our own consciousness. When the other individual departs too
much from our mental model, we would be tempted to discount the other
person as being conscious. Certainly, I would regard a reasonably
ordered version of TIME as a prerequisite for consciousness, but that
includes things like Cantor sets just as much as more conventional
notions of continuous time.


> --Stathis Papaioannou
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