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Manzotti : There is no such a thing as a thought that lies between your body and the Coliseum, or the photo you saw of it, or the article you read about it, no need for some sort of immaterial thinking magic to connect your actions with the external world. Simply, there is your body and there is the external thing your body has been in contact with. Think of something, right now. Your body is such a thing and when your body is there, an apple is there, too. Not an apple reproduced like a photo in your head. An apple there on the table, in relation with your body.

"Conversations in Consciousness" Ep. 1: Carey Wedler

Parks : So, anything the body experiences as an effect—which is to say, anything it experiences—is an object? The collective hubris that derives from this is all too evident and damaging. Manzotti : At this stage, no. Manzotti : We often confuse freedom with arbitrariness, as though freedom were tantamount to doing something in a random way.

But we are only really free, or rather we savor our freedom, when what we do is the necessary expression of what we are. If I am the world I experience, what is this sense I have of being a subject separate from the world? How can I be both subject and object? Manzotti : What you call a subject is nothing but a particular combination of objects that are relative to another object, your body. Being a subject means no more than being experience, i.

My answer is: thanks to two misconceptions.

a topsy-turvy life of quietude

They are both the result of the same processes of causation. Manzotti : Absolutely. You are the objects of your experience. Manzotti : Each body brings into existence a world of relative objects, that are, nevertheless, external physical objects.

Bay Area Meetings - Conversations on Consciousness

Not things that emerge from your brain, or representations that well up in there. When the body stops working and dies, that world of experience, your consciousness, which is external to your body, ceases to exist as well. But not, of course, the whirlwind it was selected from. Dave I never thought of this as a terribly profound distinction to make. I thought I was just stating the obvious. Of course, what everybody remembers are those first five minutes at the beginning.

Conversations in Consciousness

I guess it turned out to be useful for the field to have a short tag for the problem. Sue You have described the hard problem as the difficulty of explaining how subjective experience arises from an objective world. Is this the same as the mind-body problem? Is it the same as the problem that leads to Cartesian dualism?

Or is it a different problem. We can think of the hard problem as the real core of the mind-body problem. No explanation solely in terms of brain processes will be such that we can deduce the existence of consciousness from it. I think someone could know all the physical facts about the world and still not know about consciousness. Obviously there is going to be a very close correlation and a connection.

What a science of consciousness needs to do is to systematize that bridge. This raises deep questions of metaphysics. What is there in the world? What are the basic components of the world? In physics this happens all the time.

Nobody tries to explain, say space or time in terms of something which is more basic than space or time. They end up taking something as fundamental. My own view is that to be consistent we have to say the same thing about consciousness. Then we need to look at the laws that govern it, at the connection between the first person data of subjective experience and the third person objective physical properties. Eventually we may come up with a set of fundamental laws governing that connection, which are akin to the simple fundamental laws that we find in physics.

Sue I understand that you want to try out the idea that consciousness is a fundamental principle of the universe, but you were talking there about correlations. I take you to be saying something more fundamental than that—that consciousness is not just one more thing that can be correlated, but that it underlies the world in some way, or that it forms a framework. You made an analogy with space and time, and space and time in physics are basic principles, used to structure everything else. So if you were going to make that analogy work you would have to say something similar about consciousness.

Is that what you are trying to do, and can you do it? Dave I am not saying that consciousness structures everything else in the world. All I am saying here is that it is a fundamental feature of the world. The question is how can we get to a theory? How can we have something that looks like an explanation of consciousness when we just have these subjective phenomena and these physical processes in the brain? So we put consciousness in to the picture and we study the correlations.

Are you coming close to a panpsychic view here, where everything is conscious?

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Dave I think the view that consciousness is irreducible is neutral in the question of whether consciousness is ubiquitous. You could say that it is irreducible but rare. I mean some fundamental properties are rare. There are huge areas of vacuum throughout space in which there is no mass, for example.

So maybe there are huge areas in which there is no consciousness. It is true, though, that it is natural to speculate. After all, it is very hard to draw the line for where consciousness stops. We think people are conscious, almost all of us think chimps, dogs, and cats are conscious. When it comes to fish and mice, some people might deny it. Then you just go further and further down. My own view is that where you have complex information processing you find complex consciousness.

As the information processing gets simpler and simpler you find some kind of simpler consciousness. Sue This would lead to a very odd thought though. You say that associated with all kinds of information processing is some kind of consciousness.

Dave Well—this raises some interesting questions about the self and the subject. This is only speculation, but on a panpsychic view I would imagine that the kind of consciousness that you would find throughout most of the world is incredibly simple and undifferentiated and not very interesting.

Some of the time that basic field of consciousness might come together into unified, coherent, bounded objects that we think of as selves. Now what the conditions are for that, I think nobody knows. Now, as you say, there are other things going on in my body, and one would have to say that there are experiences associated with those.


Sue So would they be more like the sort of consciousness in an animal that had no concept of self? Dave Or maybe even simpler. Who knows? Is a thermostat conscious? It would only be speculation, but just say it was. It would at best be a tremendously simple and primitive form of consciousness. One state here, another state there, but nothing corresponding to what we would think of as thinking, or intelligence, or a self.