On 3/21/07, Brent Meeker <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:

> > Unconscious factors affecting our sense of continuity of identity must
> > do it through affecting conscious factors.
>
> That would follow if we were always conscious of our sense of continuity
> of identity, but I don't think we are.  I may think of it from time-to-time,
> but generally I don't have any "sense of identity" to be affected.  That's
> the problem I see with OMs.  They are usually conceived as what people not
> on this list call "thoughts", the sort of thing expressible in simple
> sentence.  They don't come with a subordinate clause, "and this thought is
> by Brent Meeker."


It's true that we are not always conscious of a sense of identity, but that
just means we don't have to worry about this when considering most OMs. An
analogy would be representing visual information in a simulation. There is
no need to simulate what is going on behind a person's back as long as any
shadows or reflections affecting his visual field are taken care of. Of
course, the simulation must instantly create the new visual information when
the person turns his head, and similarly it must provide information
pertaining to memory and personal identity if he should decide to focus on
this.


> >Suppose some unconscious
> > factor X were partly responsible for placing my last second of
> > consciousness in sequence. That means that if X had been different, my
> > conscious experience would have been different. I can't claim that X
> > plays a role while maintaining that I would not have noticed anything
> > different without X.
>
> Depends on what you mean by "notice".  The brain implements a physical
> processes, of which you are not conscious.  It causes your next thought to
> pop into consciousness.  If the brain's process had been a little different,
> say it was perturbed by a cosmic ray particle, your next conscious thought
> would have been different.  You would have a different thought - but you
> wouldn't *notice* it was different.
>
> Could something, a shower of cosmic ray particles, cause you to suddenly
> have the thought, "I am Brent Meeker." and if it did, would your "sense of
> continuity of identity" have been affected?  If the "I" referred to Sthathis
> Papaioannou that would be a discontinuity of identity.  But if "I" referred
> to me, it would just be an instance of your brain having one of my thoughts
> and would not affect your identity.


If I started experiencing your thoughts, then I would be you. It would be
like a duplication experiment in which you can expect an equal probability
of finding yourself in your original position or in my position. While this
was happening, I (Stathis) would be unconscious. After it was over, if I
were left with no memory of the event, I might notice a discontinuity in the
external world, things apparently having moved substantial distances
instantaneously etc., but it wouldn't affect my sense of identity.


> >You could use that as a definition of unconscious:
> > if it were removed, you would not notice any change.
> >
> >     Of course you can deny that there is any chain and think of it more
> >     like network of paths with marked stepping stones.  Once in awhile
> >     there's a stone that's marked, "Remember you're Brent Meeker." and
> >     every path that includes one of these is "me", even if the path also
> >     includes some marked "Remember you're Stathis Papaioannou."
> >
> >
> > How could you tell the difference, from the inside, between such a path
> > and a chain?
>
> You couldn't, but neither is there any reason for them to form a sequence
> of any kind. In the metaphor the stones are arranged on the ground and have
> adjacency relations.  But in the OM picture each one exists in isolation and
> there are no adjacency relations.


Computationalism implies that a stream of consciousness survives
fragmentation of the process generating the stream. If it did not, then
there would be some change in experience as a result of fragmentation. For
example, if an experience supervenes on past computational states as well as
on the present instantaneous state, then arbitrarily slicing up the
computation will change and perhaps completely disrupt the stream of
consciousness. Consider a time interval t1t2t3 in which a simulated subject
perceives a light stimulus (t1, t2, t3 are according to the clock within the
simulation). The light is shone into his eyes at t1, and he presses a button
at t3 to indicate that he has seen it. Now, suppose that the computation is
cut at t2, so that the interval t1t2 is run several real time days before
t2t3, or several days after, or not at all. Then since the experience during
t2t3 is dependent not only on the computational activity going on in that
interval, but also on what has gone on before, perhaps by excising t1t2 from
its normal position in relation to t2t3 the subject will not perceive the
stimulus, or not perceive it in time to press the button at t3. But that
would mean the same computation (and same physical activity in a computer)
in t2t3 would in one case result in the subject pressing the button and in
the other case not; moreover, this could be a third person observable effect
on the screen. Hence, the only reasonable way to look at it is to say that
consciousness supervenes on the instantaneous computational state (or more
simply, consciousness *is* the computational state), which makes it
impossible to know from the inside whether your computation has been
fragmented.

Stathis Papaioannou

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