Water flowing down a river is not flowing randomly either. Where is there
You seem not to want to call this interpretation. Ok, so what would
interpretation be then?
When the representamen (typically some physical thing/event) stands for
Hmm, I am thinking we aren't going anywhere with this. I would maintain that
positive electrons stand for "open the gate". You seem to be saying the
electron has to see the gate and decide which way to go. So the stands for
"go this way". Either way is this then a micro unit of consciousness?
Well, in a logic gate, an electron has no choice: its path is determined. So
the question is about the logic gate. To make it simpler, take a transistor,
which has three wires, input, output, and control. If the control wire is
positive, then electrons will flow from the input wire to the output wire,
otherwise it won't flow. So the question is, is the transistor interpreting
the state of the control wire as "open the gate"? I say it isn't, because it
has no choice in the matter, that it does not need to consider it. We can
look at it and say "the positive voltage on the control wire means "open the
gate"", but I would say that the transistor does not make this connection.
To say that the transistor is an interpretant makes the word 'interpretant'
lose all value. Being open or shut is not a *possibility* to the transistor.
It is to an observer of the transistor, but not to the transistor itself.
We keep coming back to this mysterious term Consciousness. To the extent
that you are calling it an undefined source of all things I might be able to
buy it. But usually the term comes with lots of other baggage. Does your
version of consciousness have a goal? Is it just like us only bigger? How
does it differ from just plain old chance?
This [Chalmer's description] sounds like consciousness as subjectivity or as
consciousness. You seem to be giving consciousness a much larger role in the
scheme of things. What characterizes Consciousness with a big "C"; the one
that regulates brain activity and puts the stars in their proper place?
As I see it, what characterizes it in general is its dynamic/static
(formlessness/form, continuity/change, etc.) contradictory identity, which
is also to be found in value and intellect.
Meanwhile, how about addressing the question of how, in a system of logic
gates -- given the assumption of spatio-temporal separation -- there can be
any awareness of anything larger than the state of an input wire (or a
single neuron firing, or whatever you suppose to be at the foundation of
The obvious answer is that in organic systems it is the shear quantity of
possible interactions that generates the level of complexity you describe as
consciousness. Again I see organic activity of all kinds as increased
complexity resulting from the constant flow of solar energy into this region
of space-time. I see no reason why, given sufficient increases in storage
and processing power this can not happen in a virtual world. Certainly
lifelike entities have already been created in cyberspace. At what point
they become autonimous and self aware strikes me as an empirical question.
Please note that this does NOT answer my question, and it is scary that you
don't see that it doesn't. Regardless of the quantity of interactions,
because of the separation in space and/or time of each interaction from all
the others, there can be awareness of nothing bigger than a single input to
an interaction. You are saying "somehow awareness of big things happens",
which is not an answer. Instead it is a statement of faith. My question (and
the Munchhausen fallacy) shows why that faith should be abandoned.
But let me take a different track for a bit. Your "consciousness" sounds a
bit like the concept of a User to me. As you will see this is a subject near
and dear to my heart.
The first example of the User I can think of comes from Tron.
<skip lots of examples of cyberspace fiction>
Does your concept of consciousness fit into any of these patterns? Which
model does it most closely represent? In most of these cases the User
interjects both consciousness and purpose into the virtual world. My user
does that for me, praise him; although perhaps not as much as he would like
to think and he needs to update my Magelo profile.
Although I enjoy reading Gibson and others' fantasies about intelligent
computers, one must bear in mind that they are fantasies, based on the same
faith in emergence that you have. So, no, none of these fit my concept of
consciousness. None of these authors address the objections which you (and
they) can't even see, much less answer. You mentioned R.A. Wilson a few
posts back, and to me this like trying to point out a 'fnord'. No matter how
I point to it, you respond with "it just takes complexity". Complex forms
are still forms. Awareness of form is something else.
Wouldn't you say that paradox, irrational numbers, and trying to decide
whether consciousness creates or regulates brain activity is a bit like
driving out the edge of the world?
I'm not sure what you mean by "driving out the edge of the world".
Irrational numbers are no problem (as a math major I learned that they are
no more 'irrational' than integral ratios, likewise so-called 'imaginary'
numbers' are just as real as so-called 'real' numbers.) And as I see it,
though contradictory identity sounds paradoxical, it is so only if one
assumes Aristotelian logic to be a given. One need only consider
consciousness to observe it in action.