On 11 Aug 2012, at 01:57, Russell Standish wrote:
On Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 09:36:22AM -0700, meekerdb wrote:
But a course of action could be 'selected', i.e. acted upon, without
consciousness (in fact I often do so). I think what constitutes
consciousness is making up a narrative about what is 'selected'.
The evolutionary reason for making up this narrative is to enter it
into memory so it can be explained to others and to yourself when
you face a similar choice in the future.
Maybe - I don't remember Dennett ever making that point. More
importantly, its hard to see what the necessity of the narrative is
for forming memories. Quite primitive organisms form memories, yet I'm
sceptical they have any form of internal narrative.
That the memory of these
past decisions took the form of a narrative derives from the fact
that we are a social species, as explained by Julian Jaynes. This
explains why the narrative is sometimes false, and when the part of
the brain creating the narrative doesn't have access to the part
deciding, as in some split brain experiments, the narrative is just
confabulated. I find Dennett's modular brain idea very plausible
and it's consistent with the idea that consciousness is the function
of a module that produces a narrative for memory. If were designing
a robot which I intended to be conscious, that's how I would design
it: With a module whose function was to produce a narrative of
choices and their supporting reasons for a memory that would be
accessed in support of future decisions. This then requires a
certain coherence and consistency in robots decisions - what we call
'character' in a person. I don't think that would make the robot
necessarily conscious according to Bruno's critereon. But if it had
to function as a social being, it would need a concept of 'self' and
the ability for self-reflective reasoning. Then it would be
conscious according to Bruno.
IIRC, Dennett talks about feedback connecting isolated modules (as in
talking to oneself) as being the progenitor of self-awareness (and
perhaps even consciousness itself). Since this requires language, it
would imply evolutionary late consciousness.
I do think that self-awareness is a trick that enables efficient
modelling of other members of the same species. Its the ability to put
yourself in the other's shoes, and predict what they're about to do.
I'm in two minds about whether one can be conscious without also being
I tend to think that consciousness is far more primitive than self-
consciousness. I find plausible that a worm can experience pain, but
it might not be self-aware or self-conscious.
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