Stathis:  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.
> >
> > Jonathan Colvin: 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.
> Bruno: 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.

You can photosynthesize? I certainly can not (not being a tree). If I had
photosynthetic pigments in my skin, I suppose I could; and if I had rubbery
wings and sharp teeth I'd be a bat (if my aunt had wheels, she'd be a
wagon). I still can not see (intellectually) the "problem" of consciousness.
Consciousness /qualia, 1st person phenomena, etc, IMHO, being very poorly
defined, and likely non-existing entities, are a precarious pillar to base
any cosmology or metaphysics on. "Observer" is far superior, and lacks the
taint of dualism.
To borrow a page from Penrose, I see qualia in much the same light as a
shadow. Everyone can agree what a shadow is, point to one, and talk about
them. But a shadow is not a thing. The ancients made much ado about shadows,
ascribing all sorts of metaphysical significance and whatnot to them. I
think it is quite likely that the fuss about consciousness and qualia
resurrects this old mistake. Shadows of the mind, indeed.

Jonathan Colvin

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