Here I present another metaphor to encapsulate by view of the relation 
between consciousness, information, and physicality by demonstrating the 
inadequacy of functionalist, computationalist, and materialist models and 
how they paint over the hard problem of consciousness with a choice of two 
flavors of the easy problem.

I came up with this thought exercise in response to this lecture:

Consider "Alice in Wonderland"

Let's say that Alice is trying to decide whether she can describe herself 
in terms of being composed of the syntax of the letters, words, and 
sentences of the story from which she emerges, or whether she is composed 
of the bleached and pressed wood pulp and ink that are considered page 
parts of the whole book.

The former I would say corresponds to the functionalist view of Alice as 
"roles and realizers", while the materialist view of Alice corresponds to 
the mereological "parts and wholes". To extend the metaphor to 
computationalism I would make the distinction between functionalism and 
computationalism as the difference between the string of English words 
being equivalent to the story of Alice (functionalism) and the same thing 
but with the capacity for the string of words to translate themselves into 
any language. 

   - Materialism = pages in a book, 
   - Functionalism = English words in sentences (literature), 
   - Computationalism / Digital Functionalism = Amazon Kindle that 
   translates literature into any language (customized literature).

Although this distinction between comp and functionalism does, I think, 
make comp superior to either functionalism or materialism, it is still 
ultimately the wrong approach as it takes the story and characters for 
granted as an unexplained precipitate of linguistic roles and grammatical 
realizers. This is Searle, etc. The symbol grounding problem. In this 
respect, comp and functionalism are equivalent - both wrong in the same way 
and in the way that is orthogonal/perpendicular to the way that materialism 
is the wrong approach.

What must be understood about consciousness, and about Alice, is that 
nothing means anything without the possibility of perception and 
participation to begin with in the universe. There is, to my way of 
thinking, zero possibility of perception or participation experiences 
emerging from either as that relies on a free lunch where either the paper 
and ink, the words and sentences, or the bits and bytes can spontaneously 
illustrate Alice and her world, as well as spontaneously invent the concept 
of illustration itself - of color and shape, of the lilt of her voice, the 
relation of those things to each other and how they are presented not as 
separate aspects being related but as a whole character.

If we want to understand Alice as she is, not as she thinks of herself in 
terms of the pages, words, or bytes of her story, then I think we need to 
begin with the reality of Alice as 'the given'. We don’t have to believe 
that she is anything more than a character or that her life is anything 
other than a story, but if the character and story were really the ground 
of being for Alice, then the book of pages (brain hardware) and the 
language typed through those pages (cognitive software) both make sense as 
ways of stabilizing, controlling, and reproducing aspects of the story. The 
book is what makes Alice in Wonderland a publicly accessible artifact and 
the words are what mediate from the public spatial sense to the private 
temporal sense. 

To extend this a bit more, we could say that the private *motive* to open 
the book, read the words, and imagine the characters and scenes in the 
story are what bind the symbols to the private sense experience. *Body 
needs the book, mind needs the words, but story needs the willing self*. 
The story is not bytes or words or turning pages, it is intentionalized 
interior sensorimotive experience and nothing else. The map is not the 

What this means is that all of the levels discussed in the lecture are not 
personal or sub-personal at all, but rather they are different aspects of 
the impersonal: impersonal (surface-topological) and impersonal 
(syntactic-operational). I propose a whole other indispensable half of this 
picture of consciousness and experience of which to paraphrase 
Wittgenstein, we cannot speak, thereof we must remain silent. *We can 
however, listen*.

We cannot speak about the personal, but we can know what it is to be a 
person. We can realize ourselves directly, as an autonomous presence 
without converting ourselves into an external appearance or function. We 
can let human experience be human experience on it's native level, in it's 
native language, and nothing less. We are not merely aggregates of bytes 
and cells nor fragments of inevitable evolutionary algorithms of 
speciation, we are also irreducibly people with irreducibly human bodies. 
We propagate a conscious experience directly into our environment of our 
own (quasi-free) will, out of our own anthropological sense and motive. Of 
course the sub-personal and super-personal levels inform and influence our 
every choice and desire, but that doesn't negate the fact that there is a 
something personal to which these choices and desires actually refer.

The psyche, to continue with the Alice in Wonderland metaphor, has a 
protagonist - an Alice. It has other characters too, and themes, and a 
plot, etc…or does it? Does it literally ‘have a plot’, or are stories more 
of an experience with multiple frequency layers of events, memories, and 
expectations? These are the kinds of considerations we would have to make 
if we want to look at what consciousness actually is scientifically. Maybe 
it is better not to try to do that, or maybe it shouldn't be the concern of 
science. I am okay with that. But we should not be confused about what we 
are doing when we work with the vehicles and shadows of consciousness - the 
names and numbers, substances and functions. If we lose the realism of the 
self, then we will make books that publish their own empty stories, written 
by focus-group algorithms about the wonders of algorithms and emptiness and 
self-publishing books.


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