Brent Meeker writes:
> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> > Brent meeker writes:
> >> That is not clear to me. Perhaps it turns on the meaning of
> >> "content" in an OM. Generally if my OM's are taken to be on the
> >> order of a second or longer, I think the order could be
> >> reconstructed from the content. But I also think there would be
> >> exceptions. For example if I'm startled by a loud noise this
> >> switches my consciousness on a time scale much shorter than 1sec to
> >> "What was that!?" and then, deciding it was not important, I switch
> >> back to what I was thinking of before. These thoughts are
> >> connected by *memory* but not by conscious content of OMs. Maybe
> >> there is a feeling of continuity in consciousness which doesn't
> >> survive chopping it up into OMs, i.e. each conscious thought has
> >> duration and overlaps preceding and suceding thoughts. But I think
> >> that either some such overlap or access to memory must be invoked
> >> to ensure that OMs can be ordered.
> > We can distinguish between memory that actually is part of my present
> > conscious experience, such as when I am in the process of recalling
> > what I did yesterday, and memory that lies in waiting and available
> > for access should the need arise, such as just before I decided to
> > recall what I did yesterday. I would class the latter kind of memory
> > along with the rest of the machinery required to generate the
> > appropriate observer moments to give the experience of a coherent
> > stream of consciousness. If all this machinery were dispensed with,
> > and the OM's were generated magically just as if the underlying
> > stored memories etc. were still operational, no difference in the
> > stream of consciousness could occur.
> > Pushing the idea to its limit, not only is it unnecessary for
> > anything external to the OM's to bind them together, it is
> > unnecessary for other OM's, past or future, to even exist. I would
> > still feel I have a past and expect I will survive into the future if
> > my entire lifespan is just one second long and all my memories false.
> > My hope that "I" will survive amounts to a hope that somewhere,
> > sometime, there will be an OM with appropriate memories and a sense
> > that he was and remains me. If such an OM does exist, it will
> > consider itself my successor regardless of whether I ever actually
> > existed.
> > Stathis Papaioannou
> That is not so clear to me as it seems to be to you.
> Suppose that being conscious is something a brain does. Then a
> Observer-second would be one second of that brain activity. When this OS was
> magically initiated it would already include potentials traveling down axons,
> etc, the residue of the previous OS and the precursors of later milliseconds
> in this OS. But those underlying physical processes are not what we
> generally think of as conscious. They are not things we would report if
> asked what we are thinking. Nevertheless they may be necessary for the
> continuity of consciousness, where consciousness here means the inner
> narrative - the story I tell myself in my head. In these thought experiments
> about OMs there seem to be two contrary implicit assumptions:
> (1) that just the content of the inner narrative constitutes consciousness,
> as in the analogy of cutting up a book and then reconstructing it's order
> from the content of the segments,
> (2) the feeling of continuity remains in a segment 1sec or 0.1sec or 0.01sec
> even if that is too short a segment to allow reconstruction of the order from
> the content.
I suppose you could say that there is no feeling of continuity from one
microsecond to the next in a normally functioning brain either, because it
takes many microseconds to make a thought. My point is that whatever it takes
to make a thought and however vague the distinction between one thought and the
next is, arbitrarily slicing up the physical activity underlying consciousness
should not make a difference to the sense of continuity, and no explicit
ordering is necessary. The counting sequence "one, two, three" may involve
millions of slices of brain activity or computer emulation activity spread
throughout space and time, and it may take many of these slices to form a
moment of consciousness just as it takes many milliseconds of normal brain
activity to form a moment of consciousness, but the feeling of continuity
should be preserved.
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