Re: Mindless Thought Experiments

From: Jeff L Jones (
Date: Wed Mar 05 2008 - 22:08:57 MST

On Wed, Mar 5, 2008 at 6:13 PM, Stathis Papaioannou <> wrote:
> On 06/03/2008, Jeff L Jones <> wrote:
> > > In the case of experience, believing that you have one *is* the same
> > > as having one.
> >
> >
> > I don't think so. You can program a computer to believe whatever
> > statements you want it to believe. If you program it to believe a
> > statement like "I have experience"... meaning that when you query it,
> > it responds with "yes, that statement is true"... it won't necessarily
> > have experience. To have experience, I think you need a lot more
> > complexity than just a network of beliefs.
> Perhaps the words used here could be confusing. What I meant was, if I
> think I have an experience of seeing red, then I have an experience of
> seeing red. You could argue that I am "mistaken" in my belief if I am
> hallucinating or misidentifying green as red, but that doesn't mean
> I'm not having the experience. Does a person with schizophrenia hear
> voices that aren't really there or do they only *think* they hear
> voices that aren't really there?

Ok, that makes sense. Although I think there might be another issue
here... in order to believe you have experience, you have to know what
experience is. How could a machine be sure that what is going on in
its mind is similar enough to what humans call "experience" in order
to agree that it indeed has experience? Also, how do we know that the
whole idea of "experience" and "belief" isn't just folk psychology
that will one day be replaced by a more rigorous formalism that
describes minds? I agree that it's hard to imagine myself being
mistaken in the belief that I have experiences... but I wouldn't say
I'm completely sure it's completely impossible. Maybe I'm mistaken,
and there isn't any such thing as experience... or there is something
like what we think of as experience, it's just not what we think it
is. I'm just throwing these out as possibilities... I think there are
far too many things we take for granted about our own minds that we
maybe shouldn't.


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