> I don't know what you mean by "a personal quality" though.
My point was just that say "person X" is conscious", while we say
"person Y is aware of Z". So we ascribe "conscious" to a person, and
we ascribe "aware" to a relation.
> Are you thinking of conceptual investigation or some form of
> neurological or psychological research?
For me, investigating cognition amounts to finding out what would be
required to build an artificial person. I don't want to actually build
one, but I want to know the operational principles so that I would know
how to build one.
> But if I find a snail and touch it with the same stick and it recoils
> and folds itself safely into its shell, it acted autonomously and
> is now in the shell because of some internal dynamic in the closed
> system that it is, not because of the physics of my movement (even
> though my movement WAS the stimulus that prompted the response).
Okay. I don't have a problem with that. But would you apply
"autonomous" to a mousetrap, given that we have to set the spring
before use? I would be hesitant to say that a mousetrap is autonomous.
-- on photosynthesis
> Isn't it just physics in a very important sense?
I wasn't disagreeing with that. For the mousetrap, I said "it is just
physics applied to the material content of the mousetrap." The point of
the plant, is that it is not physics applied to the content of the
plant, because the content of the plant is changing and that changing
content is involved in following the light.
> A philosophical observation is not a scientific one. It isn't done
> systematically and rigorously. It involves thinking about how we
> actually speak, use our words.
We might be miscommunicating there. I was commenting on the
"observation statements" often mentioned as starting points for
knowledge as in philosophy of science.
> I suspect Quine was trying to give a physical account of the
> perceptual process of seeing. That is a specialized use of
> "observation" and doesn't look especially relevant here.
But that is where we must start, if we are to give an account of
awareness. Otherwise we are just chasing word usages around in big
enough circles that we don't notice the circularity.
> "Create" implies volitional agency to me. I don't think that
> works here.
Do bees create hives? Do ant's create anthills? Do worms create
wormholes? And if these exhibit sufficient agency to be able to use
the word "create", then shouldn't systems of neurons also be considered
to have sufficient agency?
-- on order
> Hawkins makes the useful point that if our cortexes didn't pick up
> order in ordering the world, they wouldn't be of much use to us in
> enabling us to operate within it.
I believe that Hawkins is mistaken. It's a mistake with a long
history, but it is surely a mistake.
> I think Hawkins' point a good one and cannot fathom why you think
> that the order we see in the world is entirely superimposed by
> a brain that has no capacity to reflect or capture something
> actually there.
As far as I can tell, we don't actually find any order in the world.
Where we find order, is in representations of the world. And, as far
as I can tell, what we consider to be representations would not exist
in the world unless we were there to form those representations.
Once we start making representations, then we do see some order in
those. But the most important and strongest ordering that we see in
the representations, is an ordering that we had to impose as a
prerequisite to being able to form representations in the first place.
Ptolemaic astronomers found that the motion of the planets was orderly,
and that they moved in cycles and epicycles. Modern astronomers find
that they move in ellipses. If the ordering already exists, and we
just discover an existing ordering, how can we get that so badly wrong?
The ordering of the world that we see varies by the culture of the
people seeing that ordering. It seems to depend on arbitrary decisions
(the choice of where to put the prime meridian, for example). How can
it not be an imposed ordering?
> I think this is useful. I would like to hear more, though, about
> how you think awareness occurs (not the natural history of its
> occurring in the world but how each and every brain does awareness
> when it happens).
I'll postpone this to a future post. But I will come back to it though
it might be a few days.