Topic: Qualia

Camp: Agreement

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My biological/philosophical take on the "hard problem" of consciousness may conceivably help the experimentalists a little. In outline, it goes like this:
First, a few things that consciousness is not, in my opinion. (1) It is not intelligence. It can easily be shown that an advanced computer could have any kind and degree of intelligence, yet lack feeling, hence lack life as we know it. (2) It is not self-awareness. Self-awareness (the realization of separate existence) is partly cognitive and probably incompatible with low intelligence, even when that low intelligence is accompanied by consciousness. (3) It is not projection of intentionality, having empathy or being able to guess the mental states of others. (4) It is (probably) not a feature reliant on quantum microphenomena. (5) And of course it is not "spiritual" in the sense of being antimaterialistic. (6) It is not unavoidably private and exempt from objective perception. (7) Consciousness is not a representation of anything, since this could not avoid the homunculus problem. (8) It is s not an "emergent" phenomenon that magically just appears whenever a computer—animal, mineral, or vegetable—gets big enough.
Now, I define "consciousness" somewhat loosely as the integration of feeling and cognition, or feeling and computing. The main element is feeling. Feeling means the presence of qualia, which are anatomical/physiological features of the brain or its functions—possibly standing waves of some sort. You are conscious if or when qualia exist in your brain. Consciousness is subjective existence—which does not mean that it has no objective characteristics, perceptible in principle by an outside party.
Further, a quale is not a representation of anything, but a thing-in-itself, the bottom line. In fact, "you" do not have qualia, rather you are your qualia. Note that this also helps resolve the question of identity or criteria of survival, as follows:
The full discussion of criteria of identity or survival is rather long, but for those with the background this capsule may be enough. We are looking for something that will dispose of problems of "multiple instantiations" of a pattern. A quale is probably or presumably a physical brain feature with spatial and temporal extension. ("You" could scarcely exist at a point in space or an instant of time, hence you, your qualia, must have the aforesaid spatial and temporal extension.) This allows you in the present to identify, at least in part, with your past and future selves.
Robert Ettinger

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Topic Name : Qualia
Name Space : /general/

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Camp Name : Agreement
Keywords : consciousness, qualia, feeling
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