[FoRK] The State of Consciousness Studies

Lion Kimbro <lionkimbro at gmail.com> on Mon Jul 16 20:57:08 PDT 2007

On 7/16/07, Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
> I keep making the mistake that you aren't trying to say something stupid
> on purpose, ...

  Well, okay...


> If you want to be parsed literally and pedantically, I'm sure that we can
> oblige, but that is hardly sporting conversation.

  Well, in this case, thought, the pedantic difference is veeery relevant
  to the conversation.

  Recognizing the difference between a living awake brain (LAB,) and
  the experience of what it is like to be that living awake brain
  brings up the possibility of a LAB, *without* anything

  And then the question arises, "Well, ...  Why is there an
  EOWILTBTLAB?  I mean, if it's not *doing* anything, then why is
  it there?"

  So this apparently insignificant, pedantic point, is actually the
  fulcrum of the entire communication.

> I inferred and interpolated from your statements that the point you were
> trying to make was dualist, i.e. that consciousness was more than just
> the regular result of the sophisticated, cultured, and educated brain of
> plain old neurons made of plain old matter, without a soul providing
> some supernatural spark.

  I shouldn't be doing this, but I'm going to do it.
  Please pretend like it's something in a different mailing list, or a private
  email, or something.

  ----- This is part of a different thread. ---------
  |  I don't know why we're conscious.
  |  I don't understand why some machinery (ie, brains,)
  |  give rise to consciousness, or even if they do.
  |  Sometimes, I entertain that this entire universe is just a dream.
  |  And I don't understand how it is that we can talk about
  |  consciousness, since brains would work just the same if
  |  they were conscious, as if they were not.
  |  I DO hope that we will figure things out.
  |  I'm not trying to slip a god in.
  |  But this all shouldn't be a part of the conversation,
  |  because it's not right to argue from conclusions,
  |  desired or otherwise, and this particular message is
  |  *all about* conclusions.

  Wha?  What was that?

  At any rate--

  I'm willing, for the sake of scientific discover, to assume
  that if someone *says* that they're conscious, that they're

  I won't take "10 PRINT "I'm Conscious,"" but I *will* take
  the word of a super-intelligent AI, that can run intellectual
  circles around my mind, if it says that it's conscious,
  and can talk with me about what consciousness is like.

  What this assumption lets us do, is science.
  We can ask people, "are you conscious of X," after wiggling
  their neurons certain ways, and then maybe we can start to identify
  which minimal patterns of neurons inspire a conscious experience,
  and which ones do not.  That gives us some traction.

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