Russell Standish writes:
> But why does our consciousness supervene on any physical object (which we
> conventionally label "heads")?
> > One answer is that only those computations which
> >supervene on physical processes in a brain which exists in a universe
> >with orderly physical laws (which universe is just a tiny subset of
> >the computations in Platonia) can result in the kind of orderly
> >structure required to create the effect of a conscious being
> >persisting through time. This does not necessarily mean that the
> >computations underpinning your stream of conscious are actually
> >implemented in a physical universe, or even in a simulation of a
> >physical universe, since it is impossible to say "where" a computation
> >is being implemented when there are an infinity of them for every
> >possible thought. Rather, it is enough that those computations which
> >have a component in the physical universe (such as it is) are selected
> >out, while those that end in your head turning into a bunch of flowers
> >in the next microsecond are excluded. 
> I don't really follow this argument :(

What if we just say that there is no more to the supervenience of the mental on the physical than there is to the supervenience of a parabola on the trajectory of a projectile under gravity? The projectile doesn't "create" the parabola, which exists in Platonia in an infinite variety of formulations (different coordinate systems and so on) along with all the other mathematical objects, but there is an isomorphism between physical reality and mathematical structure, which in the projectile's case happens to be a parabola. So we could say that the brain does not "create" consciousness, but it does happen that those mathematical structures isomorphic with brain processes in a particular individual are the subset of Platonia that constitutes a coherent conscious stream. This is not to assume that there actually is a real physical world: simulating a projectile's motion with pencil and paper, on a computer, or just the *idea* of doing so will define that subset of Platonia corresponding to a particular parabola as surely as doing the actual experiment. Similarly, simulating atoms, molecules etc. making up a physical brain, or just the idea of doing so defines the subset of Platonia corresponding to an individual stream of consciousness. Your head suddenly turning into a bunch of flowers is not part of the consciousness simulation/reality (although it still is part of Platonia), just as the projectile suddenly changing its trajectory in a random direction is not part of the parabola simulation/reality, or "7" is not an element of the set of even numbers.
Stathis Papaioannou

Be one of the first to try Windows Live Mail.
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to [EMAIL PROTECTED]
For more options, visit this group at

Reply via email to