On Sat, Dec 22, 2012 at 3:48 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:

>  On 12/22/2012 1:21 PM, Jason Resch wrote:
> On Sat, Dec 22, 2012 at 2:57 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
>>  On 12/22/2012 11:36 AM, Jason Resch wrote:
>> As to how computation might lead to consciousness, I think it helps to
>> start with a well-defined definition of consciousness.  Take
>> dictionary.com's definition:
>> "awareness of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings,
>> etc."
>> Well what is awareness?  dictionary.com defines it as:
>> "having knowledge"
>> dictionary.com's simplest non-circular definition of knowledge is simply
>> "information".
>> As discussed earlier, you can have information in the Shannon sense, but
>> that is just measure over different possible messages.  For it to be
>> information *about* something, to be knowledge, it has to be grounded in
>> the ability to act.
> Right.  But how do you define act?  I think changing states within the
> process is sufficient.
> I don't.  That leads to the paradox of the conscious rock.

I disagree.  There is no *process *within the rock that gives any
indication that it "has information of its own existence, sensations,
thoughts, or surroundings".  The computations, if you can call them that,
are only the simplest linear operations of particle collisions, there are
no stable structures and no long running coherent computations.

Do you not deny that a paralyzed person can be conscious (as is the case
with total locked-in syndrome:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locked-in_syndrome )?

>   The states within only have meaning by virtue to external actions and
> perceptions.

Who is the judge of externality?  Why can't the independent modules in the
brain be considered actors in a larger environment?  This seems to lead to
a "turtles all the way up" situation, where there have to ever greater
levels of external observers or actions.  What if our whole universe were a
computer emulation, would that make us into zombies because the giant
computer has no external actions?

> The whole evolutionary advantage of having a 'within' is that the brain
> can project and anticipate (e.g. 'simulate') the external world as part of
> its decision process.

Yes brains and consciousness evolved so we can better interact with the
world, but that doesn't mean interaction with the external world is
necessary for consciousness.  We evolved the ability to perceive pleasure
for (eating, sleeping, mating, etc.), but we can achieve pleasure directly
(using direct brain stimulation or drugs) without needing to eat, sleep,
mate, etc.

I don't think I've met a materialist who rejects the idea that a brain in
the vat could be conscious.


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