Consciousness ~=~ self-referentiality' (was Re: Consciousness, New Thinking About

Jim Chinnis jchinnis at alum.mit.edu
Sun Jun 2 19:23:15 EST 2002


jonesmat at physiology.wisc.edu (Matt Jones) wrote in part:

>So what's consciousness?   I don't know exactly, but whatever it is,
>it's made of the same stuff that rocks are made of, and it follows the
>same rules that rocks follow.

There is the possibility, as some have suggested, that consciousness is one of
the primitives of the universe, like matter-energy. That's very appealing in
some ways, and intellectually frustrating in others.

Most neuroscientists probably subscribe to the different view that
consciousness is an emergent property of certain processes. If that's true, it
didn't exist back when there were only rocks.

>Lying along the same -physical- continuum as people and rocks are lots
>of other animals, plants, bacteria, etc. I suggest that all of these
>things ought to also be considered to lie along the same -behavioral-
>continuum as well (and for that matter, along the same -cognitive-
>continuum). I don't see the value of trying to draw sharp boundaries
>between people and apes, apes and dogs, dogs and rats, rats and
>snails, snails and bacteria, bacteria and viruses, or viruses and
>rocks.

I'll go one step further. I also question the sharp boundaries we draw
between, say, one person and another or between a person and the air in their
lungs. We form "objects" cognitively, but we know that those objects are not
truly physically or functionally distinct. Hmmm..."I" have consciousness or
*am* consciousness, but what about my foot?

Just to add to our common pool of ignorance. ;-)
--
Jim Chinnis  Warrenton, Virginia, USA  jchinnis at alum.mit.edu




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