Re: Mindless Thought Experiments

From: Krekoski Ross (
Date: Thu Mar 06 2008 - 16:17:54 MST

--- Jeff Jones wrote:

> I would disagree with this. There is a lot of evidence that people
> are "programmed" to believe in some sort of higher being, but a lot of
> that programming may come from the evolutionary advantage of
> "following the leader" in a tribe.

Yes, and for example, the tendency for children to accept parental

> It's a part of a more general
> tendency for us to respect/worship authority figures, whether it be
> moral authorities or intellectual authorities, natural or
> supernatural. It doesn't mean there is any formal axiomitization of
> God embedded in our DNA or neural pathways... it just means that we
> are predisposed to certain beliefs because they fit better with the
> way our brains work, and causes behavior that is more reproductively
> favorable.

I would agree with this.

> Another point I think is important is that consciousness is just a
> word, rather than a fully coherent concept.


> Everyone has a different
> opinion on what consciousness is, because everyone makes different
> associations when they hear the word.

Agreed, although the same could be said of anything that is not formalized
in an internally consistent system.

> Utlimately, the ideas that
> people associate the word with may have some correspondence to
> something that works roughly like what the word consciousness entails,
> but it also may turn out that the word just doesn't correspond to
> anything in the actual world and it's just a manor of speaking that
> evolved for some beneficial reason.

Perhaps. But it may be helpful at this point to delineate what specifically
we are talking about here.
Lets propose that the term 'consciousness', as we are using it here, is
synonymous with 'self awareness'. There are possible differences, but lets
treat it as analogous for the time being. To me, 'self awareness' is a kind
of recursive incorporation of a formal, rational system into itself. I'm not
sure if it is completely self-incorporated to the point of it being almost
holographic (exact self-similarity), with the whole contained in each
instantiation of its parts, or only partially so (quasi self-similarity).
This may have evolved, so to speak, as a consistency-checking mechanism.

Of course it is impossible to formalize the 'experience' of consciousness,
but it may make sense to talk about its likely effects and architecture. To
me there seems to be an isomorphism between the experience of self-awareness
and certain aspects of recursive logic.



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