A Mind and No Body

From: Smigrodzki, Rafal (SmigrodzkiR@MSX.UPMC.EDU)
Date: Fri Dec 21 2001 - 11:58:33 MST

 Answer part 2 to Jacques Du Pasquier:

The very concept of the CNS to want something appears deffective to
me. People want things in a sophisticated way partly implemented by
their CNS. CNS doesn't want anything. WANTING is something people are
regarded as doing, not CNS.

### Will is implemented in the limbic cortex, in the orbitofrontal cortex,
and other parts of the brain. Collectively, their function results in
wanting something - it is an epiphenomenon of brain's functioning, but when
regarded on a different level, it is what people do.

> What will you
> DO ?
> ### Learn. Learn how learn more. Recursively self-enhance. Hog as much
> computational and physical resources as I can ethically gain access to.
> Listen to music. Return to my body for a nostalgic natural experience
> sometimes. The list is infinite.

It's funny that one thing you list, as sample of the "infinite list" of
what you will do when you are a mind without a body, is returning to
your body.

### As Germans say. "Jedem das seine". Maybe I will visit my body, maybe
not. What is the child to say about its adult form's wishes?

I think you should question your self-identification to your CNS. I
submit to you that you are given to yourself by introspection as
something wich is only a superficial part of yourself, and that your
identification to your CNS is a "physicalization" of this.

If your wife/girlfriend tells you she loves you, you may make a
spectral analysis of the voice sample in which she said that and think
that this is the actual shape of your happiness ; but you would be

### This escaped my understanding.

You may swear you are not a dualist, you may know many details about
the brain as a neurologist -- and still think like Descartes, which, I
have to say, I think you do ! (Descartes was not a fool, by the way,
he was a genius)

### Thanks. I don't. Descartes, for all his intelligence, did not have the
benefit of data from the last 300 years of scientific development, and
that's why his ideas about the mind were simplistic (the mind-brain
connection through the pineal gland - give me a break). I am standing of the
shoulders of giants, and I do see farther than he did.


But because I think that the core of what we call consciousness is
simply the perception that a body has of himself.

### The body does not perceive itself - the brain does it. Some parts of the
brain perceive the brain, giving us consciousness. Run it on different
hardware, with the same I/O, and you should have the same internal states
and the same self-conscious mind. Antonio Damasio expounded the subject in
"Descartes' Error" and "A feeling of what happens".


By body I don't mean flesh necessarily ; when you run a program the computer is the body. (no real program running without computer ; the computer program outside of any body is an abstraction, just like another text)

### Oh, OK.


To get an idea of what it feels to be a computer running a certain program, you'll have to ask the computer. You probably won't make a lot of sense of what he tells you, as we understand each other because we suppose we feel the same. And if you have taken the responsability of defining most of his concepts, it will be even less useful to ask him.

### Explain some more.


> You are a body (with information processing > abilities among others), not something embodied. You are given to > yourself, in introspection, as a mind. But that is not what you > actually are. This mind is just a useful illusion to help the body > take care of itself. > > ### Is your own conscious self an illusion?? This statement really baffles > me - I find it inconceivable that one could doubt one's own existence (if > the word illusion is used here in the usual meaning - something that is not > real, does not exist). The mind for me is the one thing that I cannot deny, > under any circumstances, while I could imagine my body as nothing more than > a few mathematical equations in a simulator.

Isn't it funny (again, sorry) that you seem to reproduce the own words of Descartes ? :-)

### You got me here. But I mean just to say that cognition proves existence, but does not really explain the structure of the world or my mind. ---------- What I meant to say is not that your existence is an illusion. The illusion is that you are the way you perceive yourself by introspection.

### Funny that my answers to some of your objections are exactly identical to the clarifications you give in the following paragraphs :-)

---- Remember that your cognitive apparatus evolved to augment your fitness, and, to that end, to allow you to keep track of what happens in the surrounding world and make good decisions. Not to do neurosciences through introspection.

This is why I said that the fact that you are your mind is an illusion of introspection (from latin roots deceptively meaning : looking into oneself).

### My hands didn't evolve to communicate with you, but they work, don't they? Introspection provides some simple details - neuroscience will provide all the rest I need to grow. -----

I think you can NEVER separate the mind from the body it is "in" (to use your phrasing), for the simple reason that a mind without a body is an abstraction, like a text without an edition.

### You can't run a program without a computer of some sort, yet if you go the computer store, you buy "disembodied" software. It's again a question of perspective - is your PC the slave of your email program, or is it the other way round? You can identify the information processing functions of your brain, abstract their high level description and implement it on a different substrate. You DO separate mind from one brain (at that moment it's an abstraction), and port it to another (making it tangible and functional again).

I think we are really saying the same thing


But from there you should not jump to the idea that you can exist without a body, or simply that you are something else than a body. You are not ; which doesn't mean that you cannot transform your body in any imaginable way, nor make copies of yourself that share some or even all of your essential properties.

### But the Windows software is an entity different from my PC, just like a wave is different from the ocean.


Suppose there is only one car in the world, and you are this car. Take all the other cars that you know as possible non essential variations on the car that you are. Obviously you can have your lights replaced by more powerful ones, that won't affect what you essentially are. SO you can try to focus on what you essentially are.

But now try to make sense of sentences uttered by the car like "Soon, I will set free from the car I am in."

### If the car is sentient, its sentience might wish to be ported to a starship. What do you mean by "focus on what you essentially are"? We have our discussion because I *do* focus on what I am.


Our cognitive apparatus is here to give us the continuity/discontinuity of that which we perceive -- not of our perception.

### Not quite so - some of our mind is devoted to the monitoring of our perception, its quality, its speed, and it flags any problems it can detect. It is responsible for the ability to feel tired (=perceive impending malfunction of a cognitive process), bored (=likelihood of uselessness of an activity), etc. The mind really needs to be aware of itself to live.

------- So I wouldn't say "Continuity of personal experience does exist". That which exist is the continuity of what we experience (be it oneself or something else), not of the experience itself. I you turn around an object and look at it, and the object is standing still, then you will experience no discontinuity because your cognitive system serves to report what happens in the world. But in the meantime, your perception itself is all but continuous. Your perception of continuity results from a discontinuous perception, which is possible because perception is not something like a film you would be watching ; it IS "watching". It's exactly the same for the continuity of "self-consciousness". What makes it feel "continous" is that no discontinuity is "reported" to you as such by your self-cognitive apparatus. So it's really hopeless to take this as a criterion for personality survival (and we agree on this, if not for the same reason).

### Again, we agree once we explain the details to each other.


The possibility of abstracting some aspect of you as essential exists (though it is a bit arbitrary) ; but thinking that this abstraction is you seems an error to me, an error for which there is a psychological explanation (the illusion of introspection), so that, while I do not want to force you to believe anything, I question the fact that, once you clear your mind about it, you will still believe it.

### By definition, once you clear your mind of something, you do not believe in it. I'll hold on to my ideas for now.

----- My goal here is not to show that what people dream of is impossible. I come here with my own dreams, too. I just want to check dreams for soundness because even more than dreaming dreams I like to realize them. :-)

### Exactly. We do not want to have unsound dreams and ideas, resulting in our inability to achieve them. Once I empirically gather some data about autopsychoengineering, I'll be happy to share it with you.


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