- Sep 19, 2018
- SL Rez
- Joined SLU
- Nov 2003
- SLU Posts
Philosophers and scientists have been at war for decades over the question of what makes human beings more than complex robots.
he said that on the basis of his recent research he thought it wasn’t impossible that his iPhone might have feelings.
“Look, I’m not a zombie, and I pray that you’re not a zombie,” Chalmers said, one Sunday before Christmas, “but the point is that evolution could have produced zombies instead of conscious creatures – and it didn’t!”
“Let’s relegate zombies to B-movies and try to be a little more serious about our philosophy, shall we?” Yes, it may be true that most of us, in our daily lives, think of consciousness as something over and above our physical being – as if your mind were “a chauffeur inside your own body”, to quote the spiritual author Alan Watts. But to accept this as a scientific principle would mean rewriting the laws of physics. Everything we know about the universe tells us that reality consists only of physical things: atoms and their component particles, busily colliding and combining. Above all, critics point out, if this non-physical mental stuff did exist, how could it cause physical things to happen – as when the feeling of pain causes me to jerk my fingers away from the saucepan’s edge?
early scientists were convinced that there had to be some magical spirit – the élan vital – that distinguished living beings from mere machines. But there wasn’t, of course. Light is electromagnetic radiation; life is just the label we give to certain kinds of objects that can grow and reproduce. Eventually, neuroscience will show that consciousness is just brain states. Churchland said: “The history of science really gives you perspective on how easy it is to talk ourselves into this sort of thinking – that if my big, wonderful brain can’t envisage the solution, then it must be a really, really hard problem!”
This is “panpsychism”, the dizzying notion that everything in the universe might be conscious, or at least potentially conscious, or conscious when put into certain configurations. Koch concedes that this sounds ridiculous: when he mentions panpsychism, he has written, “I often encounter blank stares of incomprehension.” But when it comes to grappling with the Hard Problem, crazy-sounding theories are an occupational hazard. Besides, panpsychism might help unravel an enigma that has attached to the study of consciousness from the start: if humans have it, and apes have it, and dogs and pigs probably have it, and maybe birds, too – well, where does it stop?
Since we don’t know how the brains of mammals create consciousness, we have no grounds for assuming it’s only the brains of mammals that do so – or even that consciousness requires a brain at all.
It would be poetic – albeit deeply frustrating – were it ultimately to prove that the one thing the human mind is incapable of comprehending is itself.
Knowing how conciousness actually works does not also equal the very physical ability of copying it. The latter does not necessarily get enabled by the former.Well I do see it pragmatically: either we're going to figure it out somewhere, and we're somewhere able to copy our conscience into a computer like Ray Kurzweil predicted - or we won't.
FIFYWhy have other creatures not followed similar paths YET?
Agreed. Consciousness isn't even continuous. When you're performing a routine rote process consciousness can just cut out for an extended period. That's what the various meditative states independently discovered by various traditions are... being able to enter this state on demand.It’s kind of a false question? I disagree with the premise. We know a great deal about consciousness. The feeling of consciousness is a feedback loop. Thoughts aware of themselves, the feeling of thoughts thinking about thoughts. You can remove the loop and the thoughts still exist and keep happening -complex thought processes can execute in your brain without you even being aware that it happened because they had no input back in on themselves for you to experience having those thoughts - it just is now thoughts that have no perception of themselves. That’s the same as doing things without thinking about it.
It’s not super complex, but people don’t like thinking that what feels like the most special thing about them is just a material physical process.
How do you know they haven't?It's a topic I've always found fascinating on multiple levels. Animals have consciousness as well - what is it that somehow separated humans to evolve into even higher states of consciousness? Why have other creatures not followed similar paths?
How about a spoken language, letters, religion and science?The only things I can think of that no other species really has exhibited on its own is what humans have started long, long long ago: Music and art.
it gets blurry with the basic priciples of spoken lanaguage and science, actually.How about a spoken language, letters, religion and science?
How about a 2.2 pound brain in a hundred-pound-odd body (one that's traded the ability to distinguish and process scents for symbolic manipulation) and prehensile thumb? Just getting over a threshold in capability first doesn't make for a qualitative difference in consciousness. And we don't individually develop a spoken or written language, or a formal religious doctrine, or the collective organizations that produced science. All these things are the result of collective effort over tens of thousands of years.How about a spoken language, letters, religion and science?
This is an old and tired concept, and part of a remnant of pre-scientific thought that's hung on under the name "philosophy". I see no reason to grant it any more credibility than any other comparable system of thought such as religion. Philosophers don't "understand consciousness", really the only part of philosophy that has any value at all is the basis of logic that falls under the label "philosophy of science" and would really be part of mathematics. It's one of those weird side effects of how western science has evolved... like how dentists and opticians are put in separate groups than doctors.The thought construct uses the concept of the 'Philosophical Zombie', which is essentially the idea of a human that.... acts human. Behaves 100% human. But actually has no conciousness at all. That's where the 'Zombie' part comes from.
I think what you're referring there is people using the Philosophical Zombie to push some 'Conciousness is more than matter!' argument. Yeah, I don't subscribe to that either, it pushes the boundaries into esoterics.This is an old and tired concept, and part of a remnant of pre-scientific thought that's hung on under the name "philosophy". I see no reason to grant it any more credibility than any other comparable system of thought such as religion.
You weren't consciously aware of that, because you've "compiled" driving into almost autonomous processes and procedures.When I reflect on my behavior, I’m only reviewing a piece of it. If I’m remembering the excitement of driving past a huge, dormant volcano for the first time, I’m not remembering what I was doing with the accelerator and the wheel.