philosophy of mind

James Teo james at teoth.fsnet.co.uk
Sun Jan 13 10:16:23 EST 2002


On 13 Jan 2002 02:56:05 -0800, mats_trash at hotmail.com (mat) wrote:

>I'm not sure whether we are simply arguing about differences in
>terminology and actually have the same views.

A common problem in my limited experience.

>What I would say is this:  sensory information is processed by the
>brain.  Some or all of the information is altered so as to have the
>potential of being causally effective.  Given this status it is this
>information that will effect the actions of the person.  As such you
>could say that the person is 'aware' of this information and not the
>other information which did not get computationally altered. 
>Discerning those computational processes which allow sensory
>information to be causally effective would allow you to say which
>information the person becomes 'aware' of and which not.

I see the difference now in our views. I don't think awareness or
consciousness is has much effect on causation (or if it is, it has an
indirect effect eg: through memory). IMHO the causally effective
processes in the brain occur below the level of consciousness.
I think they call my view: epiphenomenalism.

Analogy:
Awareness is the press statements of a press relations department of a
large company on the running of their company but doesn't really have
much of a role to play in the actual running of the company. In this
case however, there is no press and the press statements are being
received by nobody.

However, i must stress that this does not mean I think consciousness
should not be addressed and dealt with (psychologically as well as
biolgoically) as it is very much real phenomenon to us. 

>In a similar fashion, a person can be considered 'aware' of all
>information (from memories or sensory stimuli even emotional responses
>if you want to consider them separate) that becomes computationally
>altered to become potentially effective in determining the actions of
>that person.  Indeed, it is that information which becomes effective
>that defines them. A person (in the deepest?!/strongest sense) is
>'simply' the dynamic totality of information within their brains that
>has the potential of being causally effective.

Nitpick: but not all the information in the brain that is causally
effective ever reaches consciousness.

>I guess the critical question is whether 'you' see this information or
>'you' are this information?

I think we both agree on this point: 'you' are this information.
but as I have argued, this does not make qualia redundant (your
original argument).




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