Re: Animal Consciousness (was Mindless Thought Experiments)

From: Larry (
Date: Fri Mar 07 2008 - 08:35:28 MST

On Fri, 7 Mar 2008, M T wrote:

> While on thistopic, I have to ask:
> What is the lowest level level ofcomplexity in life forms that you would
> assign consciousness andself-awareness?
> Mice? Ants? Mussels maybe?
> It is also obviouslyimpossible to answer objectively, but one has to
> try.....

Electrons :)

Seriously I'd argue that consciousness is an issue of quantity (1-N) not
a unique quality.

Consciousness is just a stream of events and awareness. Being human we are
a bit biased in wanting to say why our consciousness is intrinsically
special qualitatively different than a whale, worm, plant or solar flare.
The only reason we are able to have this conversation is not due to being
uniquely conscious, its due to our species advanced level of tool use.

Thought is simply a greatly sped up form of evolution. Patterns of nerve
firing compete. If you look at the nervous system you see all sorts of negative
feedback, loops that will tend to shutdown all but the currently dominant
pattern. The cells firing in that pattern eventually weakens and another
pattern takes over.

I'd argue that in the broad sense of things a field of wild flowers is
conscious and thinks (evolves), its just a much much slower version of
the competition of ideas (patterns) that happen in our own brains. Don't
expect to have a philosophical conversation with it for a billion
years or so until it figures out how to build a high speed brain of its

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