Brent M wrote:
>Consciousness requires interaction with an environment; consciousness 
>implicitly requires a distinction between "I" and "the world".  <
I find it an excellent addage to identify Ccnss, thank you. 
I was searching for 'self' and found a similar trait, adding "self reflective 
relation" to it. I would change "an" into "the" and call environment the 
totality - but this is a minor change in wording. In the 'self' I struggled 
with 'closer' and 'less closely' related ambience as pertaining to the 
'strength of the relationship, which would vote for Brent's "an" rather than my 
I was talking about "conscious", as frequently used not identically to the 
adjective of Ccness,(e.g. 'unconscious' in sleep retains some Ccness for an 
alarm clock.) 
Is the 'addage' all of Ccness? Like another Brent-post
I have to recall:  Brent's excellent proposition some time ago, about "why go 
further from a (timeless?) world we cannot really kidentified as 'originated', 
into a similarly uniodentified 'creator' (approximate paraphrasing), why can we 
not stop there and speak about 'the world' only? 
(Meaning: isn't one level of unknowable enough?) 
 Of course that rang the bell of pantheism.

I skip the rest of the 'rock-physics'. 


John M

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Brent Meeker 
  Sent: Saturday, January 13, 2007 12:24 AM
  Subject: Re: The Meaning of Life

  Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
  > John Mikes writes:
  >> Regarding consciousness being generated by physical activity, would it 
help if
  >> I said that if a conventional computer is conscious, then, to be 
consistent, a
  >> rock would also have to be conscious?
  >> JM:  Bruno:
  >> A rock will not read an article in the Figaro, but that is not the rock's 
fault. It is our usage of the human terms transferred into non-human 
applications, what I sense all over. Did we properly identified 'conscious'? I 
feel (generalized DOWN the complexity-scale)  it is some 'mental sensitivity' - 
maybe more. Human mentality of course. Even if animals are deemed conscious, it 
is in human measures. Like: animals are stupid: cannot talk. Washoe chimp 
'talked' US sign language and how else should a creature articulate its sounds 
(for human talk) without proper equipment to do so?
  >> Sensitivity with the proper premises is 'conscious' in humans - as we call 
it. A rock has response to information it can acknowledge, it is semantics what 
word we use to mark it. A pine tree does not run, a human does not fly. (how 
stupid, says the chicken),
  > I make the claim that a rock can be conscious assuming that 
  > is true; it may not be true, in which case neither a rock nor a computer 
may be 
  > conscious. There is no natural syntax or semantics for a computer telling 
  > what should count as a "1" or a "0", what should count as a red perception, 
  > so on. These things are determined by how the computer is designed to 
  > with its environment, whether that mean outputting the sum of two numbers 
  > a screen or interacting with a human to convince him that it is conscious. 
But what 
  > if the environment is made part of the computer? The constraint on meaning 
  > syntax would then go, and the vibration of atoms in a rock could be 
  > any computation, including any conscious computation, if such there are.
  > John Searle, among others, believes this is absurd, and that therefore it 
  > computationalism. Another approach is that it shows that it is absurd that 
  > supervenes on physical activity of any sort, but we can keep 
computationalism and 
  > drop the physical supervenience criterion, as Bruno has.
  > Stathis Papaioannou

  I have a view that seems to me to be slightly different.  Consciousness 
requires interaction with an environment; consciousness implicitly requires a 
distinction between "I" and "the world".  So when you attribute consciousness 
to a rock, incorporating "the world" as part of the rock, while the remainder 
of the rock is "conscious" that raises problems.  We can say that this part of 
the rock is conscious of that part; making some arbitrary division of the rock. 
 But then it's not conscious in/of our universe.  

  When you say there is no canonical syntax, which is what allows anything to 
be a computation of anything else, I think that is overstates the case.  
Suppose a particular pair of iron atoms in the rock are magnetically aligned 
and the syntax counts that as "0" while anti-aligned counts as "1".  Then what 
computation is implemented by "0000000..."?  The arbitrariness of syntax 
supposedly allows this to be translated into "27" or some other number.  But 
then the translation has to have all possible words in it and the relational 
meanings of those words; including the words for all the numbers in that world. 
 This places a pretty strong restriction on the size of the rock-world - there 
are only some 10^25 atoms to do all this representing.

  Brent Meeker


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