On 28/08/07, David Nyman <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:

> > What if someone simply claimed that they couldn't see how circulation
> > was the same as cardiovascular activity: they could understand that
> > the heart was a pump, the blood a fluid, the blood vessels conduits,
> > but the circulatory system as a whole was something emergent and not
> > at all obvious, in the same way that mind was emergent. Alternatively,
> > a superintelligent being could claim that the mind was as obviously
> > the result of brain activity as circulation was the result of
> > cardiovascular activity.
> Isn't the obvious (and AFAICS unanswerable) argument against this that
> 'circulation' is merely a convenient shorthand for the specific set of
> underlying structures and processes, once these have been identified,
> even when this is not obvious a priori. One adds nothing
> *explanatorily* by applying the term to these processes, which stand
> by themselves for what is to be explained from the third-person
> perspective which fully suffices in this case.  But I don't see how
> even a superintelligent being could convince us that first person
> subjective experience is by any direct analogy *explained* merely by
> being equated to certain third person activities of the brain, with
> nothing further remaining to be accounted for.  IOW, even if we are
> inclined to accept on other grounds some sort of functional identity
> theory, we have made no further progress towards *explaining* the
> categorical uniqueness of the first person.

I'm not sure what the answer is. Some philosophers like Dennett and
Hofstadter claim that consciousness is simply a shorthand for the
activity of certain complex systems, not immediately obvious because
they are so complex. Maybe a thermostat has a protoconsciousness which
is no more than a description of what a thermostat does, and it is no
more possible to disentangle this quality from thermostat activity
than it is possible to disentangle thermostat activity from thermostat

Stathis Papaioannou

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