> > Brent meeker writes:
> This raises the question again of "what is the minimum duration of a
> conscious state"? You mention 5sec as being a long time for a coincidental
> match (would there still be two consciousnesses for that 5sec - I think not),
> but what about 300msec, or 100msec. There's not much consciousness in
> 100msec; so little that it may be occuring hundreds of times over in
> different brains.
Human brains, and the consciousness they produce are both very complex.
I've heard it said that human vision processes the quivalent of
hundreds of millions of pixels and can distinguish millions of colors.
The optic nerves transfer information at a rate of about 1 Gbps. So
for thought experiments and examples I find it useful to reduce qualia
to more simple cases. Imagine a creature with very primitive sight,
capable of only distinguishing between white and black, and with visual
acuity so poor it is only able to perceive one pixel. Sight for such a
creature would be equivalent to perceiving one of two states:
brightness or darkness.
When this creature "sees" white, it would be equivalent to that
creature having an involuntary and vivid thought about white. That
thought is objectively nothing more than the activation of a certain
group of neurons that react when having the thought about white.
Subjectively, the creature perceives an indescribable quale, and may
say that white is like warmth (in the same way humans rescribe red as
being hot). This is likely due to links in the neural tissue between
the neurons that process seeing white and the ones that process the
sensation of warmth.
Using this simplified example, it becomes easier to attack the question
of "what is the minimum duration for a conscious state?", or "How long
is an obsever moment?" One could say that for every planck time, there
an observer moment. While those neurons are active there will be
observer moment's experiencing the quale of white at each instant.
However, since brain chemistry is so slow (compared to the speed of
light and plank scales) there will be a massive number of observer
moments that are subjectively indistinguishable. So in this regard one
could also say that new observer moments are only created when the
state of the neural tissue changes, since otherwise they were
indistingushable from the observer's perspective.
In this regard, there is no minimum amount of time an observer moment
must span, all that is required for the observer moment to exist is for
a brain in a certain state to exist. Note however, that our brains do
not only contain information collected from a single instant, but
rather they contain and are in the middle of processing sensory
information collected over the course of perhaps a 10th - 20th of a
second. This could explain why a flip book appears to have smooth
motion if you see more than 10 to 20 frames per second, and why a low
frequency sound below 10-20 Hz sounds like individal beats as opposed
to a tone.
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