Le 22-mai-05, à 06:29, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :
Bruno Marchal wrote:
People certainly seem to take their consciousness seriously
on this list!
I've now managed to alienate both the "consciousness doesn't
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.
is no more remarkable than the fact that allthough we may have an
understanding of photons, we can not travel at the speed of light,
although we may have an excellent understanding of trees, yet we can
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
To be more strictly analogous with the situation for consciousness,
what Jonathan could have said is that we have no idea what it is like
to *be* a photon or to *be* a tree photosynthesising. Most people
would say that photons and trees aren't conscious, and therefore they
*can* be entirely understood from a 3rd person perspective. Perhaps
this is true, but it is not logically consistent to say that it must
be true and still maintain the 1st person/ 3rd person distinction we
have been discussing. This is because the whole point of the
distinction is that it is not possible to deduce or understand that
which is special about 1st person experience (namely, consciousness)
from an entirely 3rd person perspective. The aliens I have described
in my example could be as different from us as we are different from
trees, and they could easily conclude that an emulation of our minds
is not fundamentally different from an emulation of our weather.
Which means we agree completely. I thought Jonathan, in the manner of
John Searle, was arguing that nothing in principle distinguishes a
phenomenon like consciousness and photosynthesis. And this is just a
traditional move made by the so-called elimininative materialists who
just pretend consciousness (and first person) does not exist. The error
they make, I think, comes from the fact that scientific discourses are
(by construction) made only in the 3-person manner. But nothing
prevents us to try (at least) to have some axiomatic of the first
person discourse and to make some 3-person statements about it. And
knowledge theory are like that. There is even a quasi-unanimity on the
basic axiom of knowledge "to know p entails p" (Cp -> p).