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machine brains

Jerry Hull ZZZghull at stny.lrun.com
Fri Mar 5 21:03:47 EST 1999

On Fri, 05 Mar 1999 20:02:57 GMT, malcolm at pigsty.demon.co.uk (Malcolm McMahon)

>On Fri, 05 Mar 1999 14:14:42 GMT, ZZZghull at stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull)
>>>>Which makes consciousness part of what?
>>>God? Why does it have to be a part of anything, for that matter, why
>>>can't it be just another part of the universe which "just is", like a
>>>photon or an electron. Not everything is made of something.
>>Everything is made of something;
>No, only composite things are made of something. Elementary particles
>are not. What's an electron made of?
> if they were made of nothing they wouldn't be

An electron is made of itself.  What you want to say, I think, is that not
everything is made of SOMETHING ELSE.  But "made of" is a misleading notion in
this context.  It would be most proper to say that both consciousness and mind
are made of BRAINS, &c.  That is, surely Descartes was wrong to suppose that
mentality involved a different kind of SUBSTANCE that things could be composed
of, separate from physical things.

>>	  The puzzle is the relation between conciousness and mind, on your
>>view.  Why suppose, as you seem to, that consciousness is not mental?
>Because it's not really _like_ any kind of mental processing. Thinking
>is something we _do_, consciousness is something we _are_.

This supposes that everything mental is "processing".  But why believe this?
It is obviously arbitrary.  Mental things include moods, desires,
dispositions, states of belief, fundamental convictions, twinges, sensations,
intentions, proclivities, attitudes, &c. &c.  Some of these things obviously
involve processes, but not all of them.  There are also states, capabilities,
properties, &c.

But I would agree that consciousness does not FEEL like a process, i.e.,
unlike digestion, it is not something that we sense going on.  But vision need
not feel like a process either, but that does not keep it from being USEFUL to
regard vision as a process.  How things feel, and how things are best
analyzed, are two separate issues.

>>  Is
>>there no "mental"? 
>Yes, but it's probably just the information content of the brain. It's
>not a separate thing but as aspect, a way of looking at, the brain.

You obviously CAN regard mental things as a way of looking at the brain, but
you NEED NOT look at them that way.  Aristotle, e.g., thought the brain was
for cooling the blood.  He associated thought with the heart.  Are then mental
things just a way of looking at the heart?

You need to distinguish between what mental things are IN THEMSELVES, and what
provides the best CAUSAL explanation of their existence.  In themselves,
mental things have nothing ESSENTIALLY to do with either brains or hearts,
which is why both theories of their causal underpinings are LOGICALLY

>> Is consciousness yet a third thing, in addition to minds
>>and bodies?  I mean, the metaphysical problems in this area are in part
>>taxological, so the denial of a connection between consciousness & mind only
>>seems to make them worse.
>Yes, but consciousness exists, requires explaning and is not adequately
>explained by the mind.

But "mind" is not an EXPLANATION of consciousness -- it's just a NAME for the
various phenomena associated with consciousness.  If you are rejecting "mind"
as an EXPLANATION of consciousness, then I entirely agree with you.  It is not
that kind of thing.

"However far you may travel in this world, you will still occupy 
the same volume of space".  Traditional Ur-Bororo saying.

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