The Conscious Mind

Hara Ra (
Mon, 30 Sep 1996 19:40:06 -0700

I'vd been reading a book, "The Conscious Mind" by David Chalmers,
Oxfore University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-19-510553-2.

Chalmers takes the notion that qualia, or our direct experience of
phenomena as a indication that consciousness is irreducible and not
explainable as part of other systems, such as materialism. About the
first half of the book is devoted to arguments concerning this. (I had
a hard time with this, for I basically disagree, in that I feel that
memory is essential to the experience of consciousness.)

Then we get to the interesting stuff. Chalmers suggests that the qualia
functionally isomorphic systems are identical. A model of my brain will
and be conscious in the same way that I am.

He demolishes Penrose's contention regarding our ability to comprehend
Godel sentences quite concisely:

The short answer to these arguments is that there is no reason
to believe that humans can see the truth of the relevant Godel
sentences, either. At best, we can see that if a system is
consistent, then its Godel sentence is true, but there is no
reason to believe that we can determine the consistence of
arbitrary formal systems. This holds particularly in the case
of complex formal systems, such as a system that simulates
the output of a human brain: the task of determining whether
such a system is consistent might well be beyond us. So it may
well be that each of us can be simulated by a complex formal
system F, such that we cannot determine whether F is consistent.
If so, we will not be able to see the truth of our own Godel
sentences. (Page 330)

His discussion of quantum mechanics is also interesting, in particular
view toward Emmet's ideas which are often misstated as the "many worlds"
interpretation of QM.

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