Brent Meeker writes:

> >>>We would understand it in a third person sense but not in a first person 
> >>>sense, except by analogy with our 
> >>>own first person experience. Consciousness is the difference between what 
> >>>can be known by observing an 
> >>>entity and what can be known by being the entity, or something like the 
> >>>entity, yourself. 
> >>>
> >>>Stathis Papaioannou
> >>
> >>But you are simply positing that there is such a difference.  That's easy 
> >>to do 
> >>because we know so little about how brains work.  But consider the engine 
> >>in your 
> >>car.  Do you know what it's like to be the engine in your car?  You know a 
> >>lot about 
> >>it, but how do you know that you know all of it?  Does that mean your car 
> >>engine is 
> >>conscious?  I'd say yes it is (at a very low level) and you *can* know what 
> >>it's like.
> > 
> > 
> > No, I don't know what it's like to be the engine in my car. I would guess 
> > it isn't like anything, but I might be wrong. 
> > If I am wrong, then my car engine may indeed be conscious, but in a 
> > completely alien way, which I cannot 
> > understand no matter how much I learn about car mechanics, because I am not 
> > myself a car engine. 
> Then doesn't the same apply to your hypothetical conscious, but alien 
> computer whose
> interpretative manuals are all lost?

Certainly: it might be conscious, but I couldn't even guess at this without 
some understanding of how it worked 
or some ability to interact with it. However, that's my problem, not 
necessarily the computer's, which might be 
happily dreaming or philosophising.

> >I think 
> > the same would happen if we encountered an alien civilization. We would 
> > probably assume that they were 
> > conscious because we would observe that they exhibit intelligent behaviour, 
> > but only if by coincidence they 
> > had sensations, emotions etc. which reminded us of our own would we be able 
> > to guess what their conscious 
> > experience was actually like, and even then we would not be sure.
> How could their inner experiences - sensations, emotions, etc - remind us of
> anything?  We don't have access to them.  It would have to be their 
> interactions with
> the world and us that would cause us to infer their inner experiences; just 
> as I
> infer when my dog is happy or fearful.

That's how you infer that your dog has feelings, but your dog's actually having 
the feelings is not contingent on 
your inferences, except insofar as its feelings change according to your 
reaction to them. However, you did write 
"happy" and "fearful" because they are feelings you understand. There may be a 
special emotion that dogs alone
experience when they are burying a bone and simultaneously hear a 30 KHz tone, 
for example, and we could never 
hope to understand what that is like no matter how much we study it 

Stathis Papaioannou
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