Re: Conscious of the hard problem

Harvey Newstrom (
Tue, 22 Jun 1999 14:23:37 -0400

On Tuesday, June 22, 1999 1:20 am, O'Regan, Emlyn <> wrote:

> by accumulating the correct set of neurons (judged by their firings) and
> imposing an (artificial) topology. Yet I'm not ready to dismiss this idea
> completely. Who is to judge what is artificial?

I must be missing something here, but no one has yet explained why they consider the disassembled brain to be alive. It cannot think by itself. Any thoughts must be preplanned and executed by the human caretakers for the brain. It can be "stimulated" just as a dead brain can. But it does not react to the stimulus. No neuron fires unless its caretaker fires it. No memory occurs unless the caretaker stored the memory.

The entire modeling process can occur in the absence of the so-called brain. If there is a consciousness, it is contained by all the living humans who are doing the brain modeling. The dead brain neurons are not processing, communicating, remembering, thinking or reacting. The are acting no differently than a dead brain would act. They are just being placed in proximity to living humans who are modeling a brain. What am I missing that makes this disembodied brain meet any definition of consciousness?

I agree with the apparent aim of these "thought experiments", that is to lead a person to realize that consciousness can be contained in non-human brains. I disagree with the specific example that claims the dissected brain is still alive and functional because every separate neuron remains intact. As a psychology minor and a biology minor, I am adamant that this brain is not alive or conscious by any definition I know.

Harvey Newstrom <mailto://> <>
Author, Consultant, Engineer, Legal Hacker, Researcher, Scientist.