Godelian Consciousness

The Baileys (nanotech@cwix.com)
Sat, 17 Apr 1999 17:34:24 -0400

I wrote:

>I consider the question of whether we have "soul" to be a reworded version
>of the consciousness debate. Is consciousness some uncomputable
>characteristic of our brains or is it just self-reflexivity within a formal
>system? If the answer is the former then we can begin to entertain notions
>of a "soul" (though there is no evidence for the former that I'm aware of).
>If the answer is the latter then consciousness is impenetrable and defeats
>all attempts to formalize it because of the same reasons Godel showed we
>can't extract truth from axiomatic systems.

Reading over my post, I realized my comments concerning the latter option were misleading. If the latter option is the case, i.e., that consciousness is just a formal system, through sensory facilities, being able to reflect upon itself, then consciousness is not really "impenetrable". Instead, it simply will defy all our attempts to develop a consistent and complete description of it. Hofstadter (in _GEB_ and fleshed out more in _The Mind's I_) describes this entire concept much better than I. Tor Norretranders spends an entire book ruminating on the concept in _The User Illusion_.

Additionally, there is a project (based in the Netherlands I believe) that is exploring the concept of self-reference in AI http://nl.ijs.si/~damjan/fs-ai.html ). A member of its team is a rather bright fellow by the name of Damjan Bojadziev. He has an interesting paper entitled "Mind Versus Godel" at http://nl.ijs.si/~damjan/g-m-c.html

Doug Bailey