And I was leaving consciousness undefined beyond, perhaps, "what I mean when I say I'm conscious". You can do a lot of philosophising about the subject going no further than this, and it saves you from the charge that you've got the definition wrong.

Stathis Papaioannou

Subject: Re: The Meaning of Life
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2007 13:12:52 -0500

I will not go that far, nor draw 'magnificent' conclusion about conscious rocks 
(I am not talking about the unconscious hysteria of the rhytmic crowd-noise of 
teenage immaturity - call them  rolling or non-rolloing STONES), - I just try 
to call the state of being conscious an effective sensitivity (including 
response maybe) to information (changes?) from the ambience.
(Not a Shannon-type info).
----- Original Message -----
From: Stathis Papaioannou<mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Sent: Friday, January 12, 2007 9:53 PM
Subject: RE: The Meaning of Life
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 computationalism
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 us
what should count as a "1" or a "0", what should count as a red perception, and
so on. These things are determined by how the computer is designed to interact
with its environment, whether that mean outputting the sum of two numbers to
a screen or interacting with a human to convince him that it is conscious. But 
if the environment is made part of the computer? The constraint on meaning and
syntax would then go, and the vibration of atoms in a rock could be implementing
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 
drop the physical supervenience criterion, as Bruno has.
Stathis Papaioannou

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