On the subjective experience of consciousness

From: Jef Allbright (jef@jefallbright.net)
Date: Sun Mar 28 2004 - 21:40:41 MST

It's a kind of figure/ground illusion. Follow along below. Likely your
mind will "blink" and switch perspectives just before or at the conclusion.

Imagine looking in from the outside on a completely natural universe,
where evolution led to the development of increasingly complex life
forms, and eventually to life forms that had developed the fitness
adaptation of being able to form an internal model of their experiential
world and to perform complex reasoning about it using a string of
symbols and memory of past reasoning. So far so good -- most of us can
conceive of this in a purely mechanistic sense. [Read this paragraph
again and let it sink in.]

Now, these organisms also developed the fitness adaptation of being able
to exchange symbols with each other and thus share their models of the
world. They achieved this by speaking of their thoughts and experiences...

Did you shift perspective right about there? Why?

A purely mechanistic third person account of conscious experience has
all the observable attributes and characteristics of a first person
account. But the third-person account is simpler and more consistent,
therefore preferable as an explanation. There is no reason to
hypothesize some mysterious state to explain our first-person experience
of consciousness. Of course it *feels* the way it does.

- Jef

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