philosophy of mind

mat mats_trash at
Sun Jan 13 14:16:11 EST 2002

> 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.
Well I'm not really sure your analogy works then?! :)  It highlights
the problem: who reads these press releases??  And if you regard
consciousness or awareness as an epiphenomenon then not only does that
have inherent dualistic overtones (if its not the neuronal firing that
constitutes awareness what does?)
but also it means you have difficulties when you try and link
awareness to decision making.  If its an epiphenomenon how does it
become causally effective in producing actions?  or are you saying
that awareness does not contribute to decision making, and all that
goes on at a lower level; we are simply informed of it after the

> 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.

Ah yes, but the tacit theme that has been running through my argument
is that consciousness does not exist at all in the sense that you
think it does.  Reaching consciousness has no meaning in that context.
 Of course, these ideas are famously/infamously attributable to
Dennett and his multiple drafts theory.

Consciousness as I think you mean it is the same as that proposed by
Chalmers et al.  The philosophical zombie argument which says that a
person could exist such that all sensory and memory information is
integrated in the same computational way so that all outward
appearences of the zombie are the same as a 'normal' person, but that
they do not experience qualia.  Then the argument states that
physicalism does not exhaust qualia, hence qualia must not only exist,
but must also not be physical.  However, if you imagine a zombie like
the above then to appear normal his actions must be informed about the
world.  Thereofre he knows just as much visual information as we do. 
If asked he could differentiate coloured objects for example..  If you
follow my reasoning I don't see how all this knowledge of his
environment is any different to having qualia.  Thus I think qualia
are reducible to having empirical knowledge of the world

> >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).

If 'you' are the epiphenomenon, then your argument implies dualism.

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list