On Mon, Sep 17, 2012 at 6:10 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com>wrote:
> I think that comp is almost true, except for when applied to consciousness
> itself, in which case it is exactly false. I wasn't asserting it so much as
> I was illustrating exactly why that is the case. Does anyone have any
> common sense analogy or story which makes sense of comp as a generator of
I'll give this a shot.
Imagine there is a life form with only the most simple form of qualia. It
can only experience two states of being: pain and the absence of pain.
Further, let's say this creature has, say 10 semi-independent regions in
its brain, each responsible for different functions but also each is
connected to every other, to varying degrees. Each can affect any other
region in various ways.
When the creature is in a state of pain, each of the 10 regions of the
brain are notified of this state. (This is communicated from the
creature's pain receptors to all other parts of its brain).
The awareness of this state has different effects on each region, and the
regions in turn affect the creature's thoughts and behaviors. For example,
one region begins telling the other regions of the brain to do whatever
they can to make it stop. Another region expresses the associated
behaviors and thoughts that pertain to stress and anxiety. A third region
of the brain might increase the readiness or propensity to flee, hide, cry
for help, or scream. The states of the various regions have cascading and
circular affects on other regions, and the entire focus of the brain may
quickly shift (from what it was thinking before) to the single subject and
pursuit of ending the pain. Taken to the extreme, this effect might become
all-encompassing, or even debilitating.
In the above example, the perception of pain is described in terms of
information and the effect that information has on the internal states of
processes in the brain. The presence of the information, indicating pain,
is through a very complex process, interpreted in numerous ways by
different sub-agents in the brain to yield all the effects normally
associated with the experience.
Try this little experiment from your own home: close your eyes and slowly
begin to pinch the skin on the back of your hand. Pay particular attention
to the feeling as it crosses the threshold from mere feeling into pain.
Concentrate on what it is that is different between that perception (of
the light pinch) and the pain (of the string pinch). You may find that it
is just information, along with an increasing anxiety and desire to make it
stop. Experiments have found that certain people with brain damage or on
certain drugs can experience the pain without the discomfort. There is a
separate part of the brain responsible for making pain uncomfortable!
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