[evol-psych] Re: Can qualia be explained from an evolutionary perspective?
- Personally, I think the "hard problem of consciousness" arises because
each of us has difficulty identifying our "self" with a physical thing
that functions in the ways required to produce functional consciousness.
Suppose we build a robot that has all of the necessary functional
capacities: that is, it has second-level representations (of its own
internal states, etc.) and all the rest of it. (If I've left anything
out, just put it in.)
There remains a difference between me and it: I am me, but it is it.
This is not the difference between one thing having phenomenal
consciousness and the other thing not having it, but between me
experiencing my own phenomenal consciousness, and me not experiencing
its phenomenal consciousness. If the extremely quick sketch of
consciousness I offered yesterday is correct, then the robot has
phenomenal consciousness as much as I do. It's just that I experience
my phenomenal consciousness because I am identical with the physical
object called "Jeremy Bowman", and it experiences its phenomenal
consciousness because it is identical with the physical object called
"Hal 9000" (or whatever its name is). Neither of us experiences the
other's phenomenal consciousness.
In other words, I think the so-called "hard problem of consciousness"
is just a philosophical pseudo-problem that arises because of deeply
ingrained difficulties we tend to have with the logic of personal
identity. These difficulties are greatly exacerbated by the fact that
we all have a terrible hangover, namely, the after-effects of dualism.
(Dualism is the idea that our selves are not physically realized by
matter, but by some sort of non-material "spirit" which cannot be one
and the same thing as a physical object.)
Everyone should do the following exercise once a day: point to a
conscious robot (if you don't have one in your house, just pretend)
and say: "I am one of those. I am not that actual one, but I have the
same functional capacities as it, which explains why we are both
- Jeremy,Well I agree with you on all three off these points though on the last it would be more accurate to describe variations in consciousness among organisms as simply corresponding to differences in their biological and cognitive structures rather than to the 'amount' or 'degree' of consciousness they have. In other words it is not a matter of amount (quantity) of consciousness, but rather of the quality (in the sense of what kind of qualia they experience the world in terms of, not better or poorer) of the consciousness, and that depends entirely on their physical and congitive structures.You are apparently incorrectly imputing commonly held misconceptions to me that I don't actually believe. I'm not sure why. If you want an accurate view of my ideas on consciousness I suggest you read my paper at http://EdgarLOwen.com/stc.html where you will find a simple elegant explanation of how consciousness arises from the physical world. It directly addresses, and I think solves, the 'hard problem' of consciousness.EdgarOn Jul 7, 2007, at 2:38 AM, bowmanthebard wrote: