Re: The Conscious Mind

Crosby_M (
Wed, 2 Oct 1996 10:09:00 -0400

On Monday, September 30, 1996 10:40PM Hara Ra wrote:
<I'vd been reading a book, "The Conscious Mind" by David Chalmers>

Chalmers also has a Web essay summarizing some of the book that's called
"Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness" and resides at

Hara adds:
<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.>

I had a hard time with this too. In the Web essay, Chalmers says:
<When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing,
*but there is also* a subjective aspect.> (My emphasis)

I've never been convinced that subjective experience is somehow distinct
from this "whir of information-processing", from the memory
storage/retrieval effort and the associated emotional markers we've used
to index those memories.

Are functional models of the mind as software _just_, to borrow some
words from Reilly Jones (9/28/96), "epistemological models we impose on
whatever is actually going on in there, most likely just bits of stuff
bumping around in preferred directions", or do they have some utility?
Can we usefully talk about patterns of thought being independent of the
hardware/wetware on which they're processed (as Moravec has suggested?)
Are our subjective experiences objective at some level as David Musick
has suggested (9/27/96)?

Hara Ra trails off with:
<[Chalmers] discussion of quantum mechanics is also interesting, in
particular his view toward Emmet's ideas which are often misstated as
the "many worlds" interpretation of QM.>

Please, tell us more!

Mark Crosby