On Sat, Dec 22, 2012 at 10:50 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
> On 12/22/2012 5:10 PM, Jason Resch wrote:
> 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,
>>> 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".
> How did "of its own existence" get in there?
That was from the definition above.
> Does a spider have to have knowledge of it's own existence to recognize a
No, those items in the list are separated by an "or".
> A rock has internal states that change via chemical reactions, crystal
> formation, cosmic ray strikes, etc.
Yes but the state changes are not recognized by any stable process
operating within the rock. The atoms in the rock do stably store the
information about what has happened to the rock, but nothing in the rock is
there to see that record.
> The computations, if you can call them that,
> That's the point; how do you call some processes knowledge and not others.
It requires determining the program and then figuring out what that program
knows. It is not easy or straight forward. It may not even be possible in
all cases to identify the presence of a program.
> My answer is that they inform actions - at least potentially.
> 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 )?
> I'm not sure. "Total locked-in syndrome" seems to still admit interaction
> by visual perception.
Okay, then I might have misunderstood you. I thought by your definition
the interaction had to go both ways.
> Of course the person has memories and knowledge that were formed in the
> past and were derivative of action. I think that if an infant suffered
> total lock in they would never learn to think as normal humans do. What
> knowledge is built into an animal is built in by the interactions of
> natural selection. So I still think knowledge is grounded in interaction
> with environments - that the idea of disembodied, and hence isolated
> consciousness is ultimately incoherent.
A single computation can embody both aspects of the mind and the
environment. Would you consider this mind disembodied, even it ran on a
computer closed off from any inputs from the physical world where that
>> The states within only have meaning by virtue to external actions and
> 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.
> Suppose you copied someone's brain, like Bruno's doctor, and put it in a
> vat with not neural input/output?
Most brains in the vat are fooled into thinking they are having normal
Surely, the human mind will shatter if not given any input. Most people
break after 48 hours of sensory deprivation:
> I don't think it would really be conscious very long. I expect it would
> either think no thoughts at all or it would become trapped in loop.
That is what happens when human minds are deprived of inputs, but even if
people enter loops or break psychologically, they don't become zombies just
by virtue of being isolated.
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