Re: The Copy Question

Bryan Moss (
Wed, 4 Aug 1999 13:32:10 +0100

John K Clark wrote:

> >1 red ball x 2 = 2 red balls
> I don't care because I'm only interested in red, and there is only one
> red.
> >Consciousness is a property of a brain, not a product of it.
> >I should really make explicit the difference between a property and a
> >product, but I refuse.
> A property is part of the thing in question, without the property you
> wouldn't have the thing. A product is not part of the thing that makes it.
> To determine which category consciousness belongs in ask your self this
> question, is an unconscious brain in a deep sleep still a brain?

Let's test this against your analogy. Is a red ball in the dark still a ball? Yes, of course. Is the red ball in the dark still a *red* ball? Yes, although the ball does not exhibit the property red on further inspection I can tell that the ball is capable of the property red, indeed the ball is red. Perhaps a better example would be, is a red ball painted blue still a red ball? I would argue yes, underneath the blue paint it is still the same red ball. What is the difference between the dark or painted red ball and an unconscious brain? One is a spatial difference (in a sense, with the blue paint and the dark room) and the other is a temporal difference.

When I say conscious brain, I mean a brain that has the property of consciousness, in the same way that a red ball has the property of red. The other way of looking at this is that a ball (not a red ball) could or could not have the property of red, it could have the property blue for instance. In the case of the latter I will use your terminology and call this a product, red is a product of a ball, as could be blue, yellow, pink, and so on. In the same way we can consider a brain to have the property of consciousness (I will refer to this *property* as #conscious or #consciousness, to highlight the difference). Thus a #conscious brain has the property #consciousness. If a brain were #unconscious, that is it lacked the property #consciousness, it would be what philosophers refer to as a 'zombie' brain. Consciousness and unconsciousness can also be used to refer to two different brain states, you can have conscious #conscious brain and an unconscious #conscious brain. I am happy to refer to these two different states of products of a #conscious brain.

What I think leads to confusion is that people use #consciousness (the property) and consciousness (the state, or product) interchangably. Thus some believe a brain can be #unconscious, like the zombies of philosophy. To answer the above question, an unconscious (sleeping) brain is not only a brain but it is a #conscious brain. It has the ability, which I consider an inseperable property, of #consciousness and is capable of possessing both the states (or products) of consciousness or unconsciousness while retaining the property of #consciousness. (Since all brains are, to my mind, #conscious brains I will refer to the from now on as simply brains, but in all instances I imply consciousness is a property of the brain unless otherwise specified.)

When I originally said,

1 conscious brain x 2 = 2 conscious brains

What I meant was this: Two copies (or instances if you prefer) of the same brain are two separate brains. Here enters a different consciousness, which I will refer to as '#mind' (again there is confusion to what a mind is, I think my use here is currently accepted only in strong-AI circles), that can be considered the template or object (to the instance) of the brain. The #mind shouldn't be considered a property or product (in the senses defined above), but an an abstract-property of the brain. It is our plan of the brain. Two brains that share the same #mind are not the same brain but they are interchangable, just as two parts that share the same mould are interchangable or two atoms or interchangable. There is not a single consciousness at work, the minds do not communicate, but this does not mean they are not interchangable. Does it mean I could destory one in the happy thought that the other will keep going in its place? Yes, like I said they are interchangable. Will the 'stream' of consciousness 'flow' from one brain to the other? No, #consciousness is a property of a brain, it is not a 'stream' it does not 'flow' in some metaphysical liquid. And this is not about to change because a few people find it weird or spooky, or because we don't understand how the brain creates consciousness, or if we find the brain employs non-local quatum effects.

Chris Maloney wrote:

> The quality of the dialog on this list often boggles my mind.

Chris, all of the above is intended for you, I would have been more than happy to answer John with more red ball arithmetic. The line,

1 conscious brain x 2 = 2 conscious brains

Has all of the above information in it when taken in context with the subject line. The reponse to John's post,

1 red ball x 2 = 2 red balls

Contained all of the necessary information needed to reply to John's comments. Short and cryptic replies make you look cool, like smoking.