Brent Meeker writes:
 
> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:> > Brent Meeker writes:> > > > > > > I don't 
> disagree with that. But that means that a conscious, 1st> > > > > person, 
> pair of experiences, i.e. pair of numbers can have no order> > > > > other 
> than the inherent order of the numbers. And if an experience> > > > > 
> corresponds to just a number, then experiences are discrete and > > can't be> 
> > > > > chopped finer than some limit.> > > >> > > > The order of a pair of 
> experiences is set by the fact that one is> > > > considered first and the 
> other second, perhaps because there is a> > > > subjective sense of the 
> passage of time, perhaps because the second> > > > experience contains a 
> memory of the first, perhaps due to some other> > > > subtle aspect of the 
> content of the experiences.> > >> > > But on this view an experience is a 
> complex thing, far from the > > atomic perception of a red flash, and even 
> includes parts that are not > > conscious. This comports with my speculation 
> that a conscious atom is > > fairly complex and has a significant duration 
> such that it overlaps the > > conscious atoms before and after. This overlap 
> provides the ordering and > > the sense of time and continuity.> > > > No 
> doubt even a red flash experience is more than just a red flash, > > 
> containing at least a vague sense of personal identity, past experience, > > 
> an understanding of what "red" means, etc. Also, it must have a > > 
> subjective duration because however long a perception is, it can't be > > 
> instantaneous. However, I don't see why it is necessary to speculate > > that 
> there must be overlap, or even what overlap could possibly mean in > > this 
> context. Static frames in a film and the infinitesimals studied in > > 
> calculus give the impression of continuous motion without the need for > > 
> overlap, so why not perception? By analogy with frames in a film, I > > would 
> say that machine states S1,S2,S3 give rise to perceptual states > > P1,P2,P3 
> such that a single state (analogous to a single frame) does not > > give rise 
> to an experience, but a pair of states P1,P2 or P2,P3 does. > > This defines 
> an apparent overlap, but without a need for actual overlap.> > > > > > In the 
> real world, the> > > > subjective content reflects brain activity which in 
> turn reflects> > > > environmental input (that's why the sense of order 
> evolved in the > > first> > > > place), but this relationship is only a 
> contingent one.> > >> > > Well that's the question isn't it. Comp assumes it, 
> but comp also > > leads to strange if not absurd conclusions.> > >> > > > If 
> the pair of> > > > experiences are experienced in the order AB there is no 
> way for the> > > > experiencer to know whether they were actually generated 
> in the > > order AB> > > > or BA, unless reversing the order changes the 
> content in some> > > > significant way.> > >> > > That assumes the 
> experiences can be discretely separated with not > > overlap. Certainly there 
> are instances like that: the experience just > > before you lose 
> consciousness due to a concussion and the experience > > just as you regain 
> it are disjoint in this way. You only recover > > continuity through 
> accessing memories and there is a gap even in that > > memory. But in 
> ordinary circumstances the continuity might be inherent > > in the overlap of 
> conscious atoms.> > > > I don't think actual situations where you lose 
> consciousness are a good > > example, because for technical reasons the "cut" 
> cannot be clean and > > instantaneous. This is where thought experiments are 
> useful. If you were > > instantaneously disintegrated in mid-thought and 
> later reconstituted > > with every atom in exactly the same configuration, so 
> that e.g. every > > action potential travelling down an axon continues where 
> it left off, > > then I don't see how it is possible that you would 
> experience a > > discontinuity.> > I agree that you would not. But it is 
> because of the underlying continuity of the brain physics which has neural 
> messages in transit from here to there which are not part of consciosuness - 
> but will become so. Note that things like nerve potentials obey second order 
> differential equations and so require initial conditions that include a rate 
> of change which defines a time direction. > > > > > > > This means there is 
> no natural order of physical states (or abstract> > > > machine states): the 
> order can be anything, and the subjective > > order of> > > > experience will 
> be unchanged. It also means there is no natural > > order of> > > > 
> subjective states: that which seems first, seems first and that which> > > > 
> seems second, seems second. This is good, because it doesn't depend on> > > > 
> any theory or assumption about consciousness.> > >> > > No natural order of 
> physical states? Are you denying causality?> > > > I meant that you can't 
> necessarily work back from the mental states to > > determine the order of 
> the physical states underpinning them.> > Probably not from the conscious 
> part of the mental state - but as above it seems that for your thought 
> experiment you need to include more than what one is conscious of in the 
> mental state.> > > > > > I guess I need a more explicit idea of how 
> experiences occur in> > > > arithmetic Platonia. Are we to imagine that some 
> large number> > > > 3875835442... is a single, atomic experience and another 
> number> > > > 3876976342... is another single, atomic experience and they 
> have no> > > > other relation than their natural order? In that case, they 
> would be> > > > experiences in a certain bundle of streams of consciousness 
> just in> > > > virtue of having some digits in common or having factors in 
> common or> > > > what? Or are we to imagine another Platonic object, a Turing 
> machine,> > > > that generates both these numbers in a certain sequence 
> (maybe the> > > > reverse of their natural order) - and that's what makes 
> them parts of> > > > the same experience bundle?> > > > >> > > > > Brent 
> Meeker> > > >> > > > I would say that the relationship between abstract 
> machine states does> > > > not have anything to do with how mental states are 
> ordered or even if> > > > they belong to the same person, except insofar as 
> related machine > > states> > > > may lead to mental states with related 
> content.> > >> > > That's the question I was intending to raise. If comp is 
> true then a > > computation may instantiate some consciousness, i.e. 
> associates a number > > and a conscious state in one model anyway. Are these 
> states ordered by > > inherent properties of the numbers? Or are they ordered 
> by their order > > of generation by the machine? I think you favor the 
> former; that states > > of consciousness exist timelessly in Platonia. But 
> each one is so > > complex that there is an inherent ordering, as though each 
> one contained > > pointers to successors and/or predecessors. I can 
> understand that, but > > seems to me make conscious states much more complex 
> than "observer > > moments" and to include much that is not conscious.> > > > 
> Suppose that you are reciting the alphabet A,B,C,D... and for the > > 
> duration that would have been "C" your brain activity is suspended while > > 
> a separate copy of your brain (maybe a digital computer, maybe a > > 
> biological brain - whatever it takes) fills in the missing letter. It > > 
> seems that you are suggesting this process might produce a break in > > 
> continuity. If this is so, then there would be something about the > > 
> inserted letter that marks it as being not quite right: perhaps the > > 
> memory of "B" or anticipation of "D", or the subliminally present sense> > 
> But a "subliminally present sense" is an unconscious one, not part of 
> consciousness.> > > of the passage of time, or the sense of personal identity 
> shift a > > little. But all this would mean is that there is a technical 
> problem in > > correctly implementing the "C". Done properly, so that *every* 
> aspect of > > the conscious experience > > But that's the point, it takes 
> *every* aspect of the brain process - not just the conscious experience. Or 
> perhaps we might suppose that we are actually conscious of the order of 
> succession directly. I know that in fact the brain integrates the order of 
> our perceptual experiences, taking into account delays in processing so as to 
> insert them in our mental narrative in the correct order.> > Brent Meeker> > 
> >is exactly as it would have been originally, > > what evidence of the 
> discontinuity could there possibly be?> > > > Stathis Papaioannou
I think what you are saying is that the physical process S1 underpinning 
experience P1 also sets the stage for S2 and P2, so that aspects of S1 that do 
not seem relevant to P1 because they do not change its conscious content are in 
fact relevant because otherwise S2 and P2 would not occur and the extended 
experience P1P2 would not occur. That's not an unreasonable observation, but 
all it means is that it would be technically difficult to transplant or 
interpolate a stream of consciousness , which we already knew. The point I am 
trying to make is that IF some process is able to give rise to the conscious 
content of P2, exactly the same as it would have been generated by S2, THEN 
P1P2 will be experienced as a continuous sequence regardless of how it was 
generated. If not, then there must be something wrong with P2, even if it is 
just a vague feeling of something being not quite right (when we speak of the 
subconscious or subliminal, we mean that it is somehow present in our 
consciousness even though we do not recognise it explicitly; if it were 
completely unconscious, like something we have never known or have completely 
forgotten, then it couldn't affect our thoughts or actions in any way). To make 
this impossible, rather than just difficult, you would have to put severe 
constraints on a theory of consciousness, such as the theory that only your own 
brain can give rise to your thoughts, and even an apparently perfect copy would 
be functionally different.
 
Stathis Papaioannou
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