Le 21-mai-05, à 15:48, Bruno Marchal a écrit :

Le 21-mai-05, à 08:31, Jonathan Colvin a écrit :


People certainly seem to take their consciousness seriously
on this list!
I've now managed to alienate both the "consciousness doesn't
really exist"
and the "it exists and we can explain it" factions. I did not
mean that there is no explanation possible for consciousness.
It is likely that in the course of time the neuronal
mechanisms behind the phenomenon will be worked out and it
will be possible to build intelligent, conscious machines.
Imagine that advanced aliens have already achieved this
through surreptitious study of humans over a number of
decades. Their models of human brain function are so good
that by running an emulation of one or more humans and their
environment they can predict their behaviour better than the
humans can themselves. Now, I think you will agree (although
Jonathan Colvin may not) that despite this excellent
understanding of the processes giving rise to human conscious
experience, the aliens may still have absolutely no idea what
the experience is actually like.

No, I'd agree that they have no idea what the experience is like. But this is no more remarkable than the fact that allthough we may have an excellent understanding of photons, we can not travel at the speed of light, or that although we may have an excellent understanding of trees, yet we can not
photosynthesize. Neither of these "problems" seem particularly hard.

But we can photosynthesize. And we can understand why we cannot travel at the speed of light. All this by using purely 3-person description of those phenomena in some theory. With consciousness, the range of the debate goes from non-existence to only-existing. The problem is that it seems that an entirely 3-person explanation of the brain-muscles relations evacuates any purpose for consciousness and the 1-person. That's not the case with photosynthesis.

... and from this don't infer that I am saying that consciousness is not explainable. Just that consciousness cannot have the same *type* of explanation as photosynthesis.

(With comp I would argue that an explanation of consciousness is of a type similar as an explanation of why there is something instead of just logic + arithmetic).



Jonathan Colvin



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