David Nyman writes:

> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> 
> > I think I see what you mean, but it's as much a problem for the intact and
> > normally functioning brain as it is for teleportation experiments, isn't it?
> 
> Yes, that's my point! I'm trying to argue that the brain has actually
> come up with a solution to this in order to account for what we
> experience.
> 
> > For that
> > matter, it's as much a problem for a computer that gets teleported around 
> > in the
> > course of its calculations. If the teleportation time slices are of 
> > femtosecond
> > duration, then there is nothing within a particular slice to mark it as 
> > part of the
> > calculation 5464*2342. Yet a computer strobing in and out of existence like 
> > this,
> > technical problems aside, will still come up with the right answer. Indeed, 
> > if the
> > computer only materialised in the final femtosecond it would have the right 
> > answer
> > and if a log were kept, evidence of how it arrived at the answer. Do you 
> > believe
> > that there must be some super-computation information in each femtosecond 
> > slice
> > that binds them all together?
> 
> No, this is irrelevant. The calculation example is disanalogous,
> because what is relevant to this is simply the 3-person process that
> results in the right answer: this *entirely constitutes* the
> calculation. We don't seek to make claims about any putative
> 'temporally-extended pov' that the computer might possess while
> performing it. What is at issue in these thought experiments, by
> contrast, is *precisely* the pov - of apparently real temporal
> dimension and dynamic character - that we wish to claim would be
> experienced from the perspective of a given 'time-slice', however
> arbitrarily fine-grained.

I don't see why the calculation example should be different. We could either go 
with saying that the calculation mysteriously supervenes on the physical 
activity 
of the computer, or we could go with saying that the physical activity of the 
brain 
entirely constitutes the mental activity. I know people who find computers at 
least 
as mysterious as brains. It takes many time slices of computer activity to make 
up 
a period that would be recognised by an external observer as part of a 
particular 
calculation, and in a similar fashion it takes many slices of brain activity to 
make up 
a period that would be recognised by an external or the internal observer as a 
coherent thought or part of a thought. 
 
> 1) It is supported and constrained *entirely* by whatever structure and
> information is to be found within an individual time-slice (i.e. the
> 'time capsule').
> 
> 2) Structure and information external to the individual time-slice is
> in fact required to generate it (i.e. the individual slice is not a
> 'time capsule').
> 
> Per alternative 1), any slice containing the requisite structure and
> information content can potentially support a coherent 'temporally
> extended' conscious experience. Per alternative 2) AFAICS this can't be
> the case.
>
> I'm not sure that you're seeing my point here. I'm not denying that the
> pov is maintained in the chopped-up version, I'm supporting this view.
> But given the information constraint, I'm saying that any mechanisms
> that produce conscious experiences of apparent temporal duration *must*
> consequently (and counter-intuitively) depend on *instantaneously*
> present structure and information. These non-sequential issues are not
> relevant for 'calculation', hence the disanalogy. This leads to an
> empirical claim about brain mechanism, driven by the analysis. If we
> don't concede this, then AFAICS we're left with the alternative of
> giving up the information constraint. That is, the apparent temporal
> extension available in experience *from the pov of an individual
> infinitessimal time-slice* must somehow depend on information to be
> found only in other time-slices. But this then renders any notion of
> slicing irrelevant and the thought experiment collapses.

I'd say that it takes as many time slices as it takes to generate a coherent 
conscious 
experience. You could have a strict 1:1 mapping from physical activity to 
mental 
activity. An infinitesimal slice of physical activity is no easier to stomach 
than an 
infinitesimal slice of mental activity, given that we already accept that the 
physical 
generates the mental, which seems to be a minimal empirical observation 
whatever 
subsequent claims are made about the true nature of physical reality and the 
possibility 
than the mental may additionally be generated by non-physical processes.

Stathis Papaioannou
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