A. Wolf wrote:
>> "..*some subjective experience of personhood or* "being" *that we all 
>> share*,
>> and each of us presumably experiences *something* like that."
>> I emphasize the 'something': who knows if we experience (share?) the same
>> feeling? The words we use to describe it are not more relevant than
>> describing 'red'.
> Yes, absolutely.  Hence the use of the word "presumably".  The fact that 
> people seem to share an experience we can't directly measure is interesting. 
> The evidence of mankind's obsession with the experience of consciousness 
> comes from the amount of philosophical discussion (like this) that exists in 
> literature, both scientific and recreational.
>> Experience is an undefined mental marvel and conscious?
> What I'm referring to is the fact that so many people believe in a "soul", 
> that we experience consciousness in a way where we feel like we are the 
> author of our own destiny, that we experience life as though we are 
> travelling through time and making decisions.  The idea of "me" has a static 
> implication that persists throughout our lives even as we grow and evolve. 
> It serves both social and self-preservationist functions, certainly, but the 
> phenomenon also causes a lot of discussion.  Something about these 
> experiences is remarkable enough that mankind has authored a great deal of 
> text on it, and it forms the foundation of much of our mythology and 
> understanding of self.
> So the conscious experience I'm referring to is the commonality of the 
> experience of self-awareness as reported (orally and in writing) by human 
> beings...in particular the fact that most people are fully convinced that 
> their experiences are unique and an accurate reflection of the nature of 
> time, that they must either persist forever in some ephemeral form or else 
> the Universe ceases to be from their point of view when they die, those 
> sorts of things.
>> A 'computer' (what kind of? the embryonic simpleton of a pre-programed
>> digital machine
>> as we know it?) to "...spit out a bunch of
>> symbols related to the experience" of self- awareness itself." - ???
> What I meant here is this:
> It's not necessarily surprising that people would write a lot of things 
> about the soul, even if the soul does not exist in the same sense we 
> experience it.  It's quite possible, scientifically speaking, that the 
> behavior of "write and talk a great deal about the experience of 'being' and 
> how magical it is" is a natural consequence of any self-aware system.  A 
> common marker of self-awareness might be illogically rejecting the truth of 
> one's own automation.

 From an evolutionary perspective I don't see any good consequence of accepting 
that one is an automaton.  Maybe there would be no bad consequences either, but 
it would be a waste of neurons to arrange for a brain to monitor its own neural 
processes (like a watchdog program?).  Because evolution doesn't provide this 
function, we're unaware of most of our brain processes excepting only that 
part that appears as conscious thought.

Brent Meeker


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