Re: Mindless Thought Experiments

From: Jeff L Jones (
Date: Thu Mar 06 2008 - 15:14:33 MST

On Thu, Mar 6, 2008 at 12:14 PM, Krekoski Ross <> wrote:
> Its an interesting possibility,that I am programmed to believe that I am
> conscious. However, if that is so, then there exists somewhere in my mental
> architecture, a formalization of what consciousness is, or it would be
> impossible to program me to believe that such is attributive of me. If the
> formalization exists, it is integrable with other formal logic. If the
> formalization does not exist, then I am not overtly programmed to believe I
> am conscious, and it is therefore a higher-level emergent phenomenon, a
> distinct level of organization. Either case the argument holds.

I would disagree with this. There is a lot of evidence that people
are "programmed" to believe in some sort of higher being, but a lot of
that programming may come from the evolutionary advantage of
"following the leader" in a tribe. It's a part of a more general
tendency for us to respect/worship authority figures, whether it be
moral authorities or intellectual authorities, natural or
supernatural. It doesn't mean there is any formal axiomitization of
God embedded in our DNA or neural pathways... it just means that we
are predisposed to certain beliefs because they fit better with the
way our brains work, and causes behavior that is more reproductively

Another point I think is important is that consciousness is just a
word, rather than a fully coherent concept. Everyone has a different
opinion on what consciousness is, because everyone makes different
associations when they hear the word. Utlimately, the ideas that
people associate the word with may have some correspondence to
something that works roughly like what the word consciousness entails,
but it also may turn out that the word just doesn't correspond to
anything in the actual world and it's just a manor of speaking that
evolved for some beneficial reason. This is the question of whether
reductive materialism or eliminative materialism is a more accurate
description of the world. My personal opinion is that it will be a
bit of both... consciousness probably corresponds to something that is
vaguely like what people are talking about when they use the word, but
probably different enough that it deserves to be replaced with a new
word/words entirely.


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