Your post suggests to me a neat way to define what is special about first person experience: it is the gap in information between what can be known from a description of an object and what can be known from being the object itself. This is a personal thing, but I think it is at least a little surprising that there should be such a gap, and would never have guessed had I not been conscious myself. I don't think it is a good idea to simply ignore this gap, but on the other hand, I don't think there is any need to postulate mind/body dualism and try to explain how the two interact. Aside from this one difference I have focussed on, first person experience is just something that occurs in the normal course of events in the physical universe.

--Stathis Papaioannou

>Stathis:  I agree with Lee's and Jonathan's comments, except that I
> think there is something unusual about first person
> experience/ qualia/ consciousness in that there is an aspect
> that cannot be communicated unless you experience it (a blind
> man cannot know what it is like to see, no matter how much he
> learns about the process of vision). Let me use the analogy
> of billiard balls and Newtonian mechanics. Everything that
> billiard balls do by themselves and with each other can be
> fully explained by the laws of physics. Moreover, it can all
> be modelled by a computer program. But in addition, there is
> the state of being-a-billiard-ball, which is something very
> strange and cannot be communicated to non-billiard balls,
> because it makes absolutely no difference to what is observed
> about them. It is not clear if this aspect of billiard ball
> "experience" is duplicated by the computer program, precisely
> because it makes no observable difference: you have to be the
> simulated billiard ball to know.

But is this "state of being a billiard ball" any different than simple
existence? What in particular is unusual about first person qualia? We might
simply say that a *description* of a billiard ball is not the same as *a
billiard ball* (a description of a billiard ball can not bruise me like a
real one can); in the same way, a description of a mind is not the same as a
mind; but what is unusual about that? It is not strange to differentiate
between a real object and a description of such, so I don't see that there
is anything any more unusual about first person experience. Is it any
stranger that a blind man can not see, than that a description of a billiard
ball's properties (weight, diameter, colour etc) can not bruise me?

Jonathan Colvin

> You don't need to postulate a special mechanism whereby mind
> interacts with matter. The laws of physics explain the
> workings of the brain, and conscious experience is just the
> strange, irreducible effect of this as seen from the inside.

> --Stathis Papaioannou

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