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What should the criteria be? Is just doing sophisticated things enough to convince you that a system is conscious? Winning a game of Go certainly is not. Being able to carry on an intelligent conversation would be a start.

The relevance of Husserl’s phenomenological exploration of interiority to contemporary epistemology

Maybe an A. You be the A. Gradually replace your neurons, one at a time, with computer parts or upload them to a computer. In a future where everyone is augmented by A. There would, after all, be no obstacle except indeed collaboration to solving most every problem regarding human welfare. And 30 seconds later, dissolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? A lot of the irrationalities we have are collective.

Some of our irrationalities are tied to our goals, to me rationally wanting my goal and you rationally wanting your goal. Often a solution is that we both get our second most desired outcome, or our third, and so on. But that goes beyond simple means-end instrumental intelligence and more into something reflective like figuring out what our goals should be.

Immanuel Kant thought that morality is part of rationality. How much does it matter that our future is biological?

At some point I think we must face the fact that there are going to be many faster substrates for running intelligence than our own. If we want to stick to our biological brains, then we are in danger of being left behind in a world with superfast, superintelligent computers. That would be a depressing outcome. The dominant view, though, is that reality is outside your mind.


To be real, you need something more than just appearances; you need some underlying powers or potentiality. Phillip K. Things in virtual realities, at least in principle, have all those properties. There are objects there that you can perceive around you. A virtual tree has causal powers. A virtual tree falling can cause people to have experiences. It can break something that it falls on in the virtual world, and it can be experienced. Virtual reality is just a different form of reality.

No, this is all fake. In the Garden of Eden, we thought that there was a primitively red apple embedded in a primitive space and everything is just as it seems to be. A color is just a bunch of wavelengths arising from the physical reflectance properties of objects that produce a certain kind of experience in us. Nothing is truly solid out there in the world.

Things are mostly empty space, but they have the causal powers to produce in us the experience of solidity. Even space and time are gradually being dissolved by physics, or at least being boiled down to something simpler. Physical reality is coming to look a lot like virtual reality right now. Code and silicon circuitry form just another underlying substrate for reality.

Is it so much worse to be in a computer-generated reality than what contemporary physics tells us? Quantum wave functions with indeterminate values?

That seems as ethereal and unsubstantial as virtual reality. But hey! Maybe sometimes there are simulations within simulations. Who knows how many levels there are?

  • Consciousness.
  • Blood Wyne (Otherworld, Book 9);
  • Signal Transforms in Dynamic Measurements.
  • Test Your Vocabulary 1.

Evolution of political systems, evolutions of culture and so on? My intuition is that they will. If we keep this in mind, we will have enough ammunition to demonstrate the necessary failure of neuroscientific accounts of consciousness and conscious behavior. It is a pure dedication to materialism that lies behind another common neuroscientistic claim, one that arises in response to the criticism that there are characteristics of consciousness that neuroscience cannot explain. The response is a strangely triumphant declaration that that which neuroscience cannot grasp does not exist.

Self-concept - Wikipedia

We are therefore justified in rejecting the presumption that if neuroscience cannot see it, then it does not exist. A good place to begin understanding why consciousness is not strictly reducible to the material is in looking at consciousness of material objects — that is, straightforward perception. Perception as it is experienced by human beings is the explicit sense of being aware of something material other than oneself.

Consider your awareness of a glass sitting on a table near you. Light reflects from the glass, enters your eyes, and triggers activity in your visual pathways. The standard neuroscientific account says that your perception of the glass is the result of, or just is , this neural activity. Unfortunately for neuroscientism, the inward causal path explains how the light gets into your brain but not how it results in a gaze that looks out.

The inward causal path does not deliver your awareness of the glass as an item explicitly separate from you — as over there with respect to yourself, who is over here. This aspect of consciousness is known as intentionality which is not to be confused with intentions. Intentionality designates the way that we are conscious of something, and that the contents of our consciousness are thus about something; and, in the case of human consciousness, that we are conscious of it as something other than ourselves.

But there is nothing in the activity of the visual cortex, consisting of nerve impulses that are no more than material events in a material object, which could make that activity be about the things that you see. In other words, in intentionality we have something fundamental about consciousness that is left unexplained by the neurological account.

This claim refers to fully developed intentionality and not the kind of putative proto-intentionality that may be ascribed to non-human sentient creatures.

Intentionality is utterly mysterious from a material standpoint. This is apparent first because intentionality points in the direction opposite to that of causality: the causal chain has a directionality in space-time pointing from the light wave bouncing off the object to the light wave hitting your visual cortex, whereas your perception of the object refers or points from you back to the object. Ironically, by locating consciousness in particular parts of the material of the brain, neuroscientism actually underlines this mystery of intentionality, opening up a literal, physical space between conscious experiences and that which they are about.

This physical space is, paradoxically, both underlined and annulled: The gap between the glass of which you are aware and the neural impulses that are supposed to be your awareness of it is both a spatial gap and a non-spatial gap. The task of attempting to express the conceptual space of intentionality in purely physical terms is a dizzying one. The perception of the glass inherently is of the glass, whereas the associated neural activity exists apart from the cause of the light bouncing off the glass.

Kant: Philosophy of Mind

This also means, incidentally, that the neural activity could exist due to a different cause. For example, you could have the same experience of the glass, even if the glass were not present, by tickling the relevant neurons. The resulting perception will be mistaken, because it is of an object that is not in fact physically present before you.

But it would be ludicrous to talk of the associated neural activity as itself mistaken; neural activity is not about anything and so can be neither correct nor mistaken. Let us tease out the mystery of intentionality a bit more, if only to anticipate the usual materialist trick of burying intentionality in causation by brushing past perception to its behavioral consequences. If perceptions really are material effects in one place — the brain of material causes in another place — the object , then intentionality seems to run in the contrary direction to and hence to lie outside causation.

That your perception of the glass requires the neural activity in your visual cortex to reach causally upstream to the events that caused it is, again, utterly mysterious. Moreover, it immediately raises two questions. First, why does the backward glance of a set of effects to some of their causes stop at a particular point in the causal chain — in this case, at the glass? And, second, how does this reaching backward create a solid, stable object out of something as unstable as an interference with the light? This is a crucial point of demarcation within the causal nexus between perceptual input and behavioral output.

And yet there is nothing within the nervous system that marks this point of arrival, or the point at which arrival passes over into departure perceptual input into behavioral output.

What Is Time? (better audio) Determinism, Quantum Physics, Consciousness, Free Will, Causality...

Nor is there anything to distinguish, on the one hand, those parts of the nervous system that are supposed to be the point of arrival of neural activity as a component of conscious experience from, on the other, those parts that are mere unconscious way stations en route to some other point of arrival. In any event, identifying experiences with neural activity requires that intentionality, which has no place in the material world — since no material object is about any other material object — nevertheless fastens us into the material world.

What Neuroscience Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves

Examination of neural activity reveals only an unbroken causal chain passing from sensory inputs to motor outputs. Intentionality is significant because it is that which opens up the otherwise causally closed physical world. It lies at the root of our being a point of departure in the world, a site at which events originate — that is, of our being actors. And the weaving together of individual intentional spaces creates the human world — that shared, public, temporally deep sphere of possibilities, that outside-of-nature which makes our individual and collective human lives possible.

It lies at the origin of everything that distances us from the material world.