Re: Sentience [Was FAI: Collective Volition]

From: fudley (
Date: Mon Jun 14 2004 - 02:00:40 MDT

On Sun, 13 Jun 2004 "Randall Randall" <> said:

>The hallmark of a good hypothesis will be that
> it *is* testable. I don't have one, but I'm not willing
> to insist that it's logically impossible that one exist.

Itís logically impossible to test any consciousness theory. Let's say
you have a super sophisticated brain analyzing machine. One day you feel
sad and analyze your brain with the machine. You develop a reasonably
sounding theory to equate the state of the neurons in your head with
your subjective experience. How do you test your theory? Well, you try
it on me. You notice that the state of my neurons is similar (but not
identical) to yours when you felt sad, and from this you use your theory
to conclude that I am experiencing sadness just like you did. As proof
that your theory was successful you point to the fact that I have tears
in my eyes and made a noise with my mouth that sounded like "I feel

I think this would be good evidence that your theory is probably
correct, but a skeptic could correctly point out that the state of my
neurons were not identical to yours, only similar, we are after all
different people with different brains. The differences could be
crucial, you really felt sad but it's different with me, I get tear
production elevated and the nerves in my mouth stimulate my tongue to
make a noise like " I feel sad" but really I feel nothing. The only way
to know for sure what it's like to be me is to turn your brain into an
identical copy of mine, but then you wouldn't be you, you'd be me.

>> If I was convinced that was true I would have to become a creationist,
>> I'd have no alternative because I would have absolutely no way to
>> explain how random mutation and natural selection produced at least one
>> creature that had personality and consciousness, me.
> I have no idea why that is your position.
> How is this different from a statement that you
> "would have absolutely no way to explain how random
> mutation and natural selection produced at least one
> creature that can metabolize alcohol"?

Because regardless of how important consciousness is to us evolution
doesnít give a damn about it, all itís interested in is behavior. The
ability to metabolize alcohol could change the probability of an animal
surviving by a huge amount, but if consciousness and behavior can be
segregated as you say then there is no way random mutation and natural
selection could ever have made us conscious, or rather made me
conscious, Iím not sure about you.

John K Clark

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:47 MDT