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Subject:  Consciousness and its relationship to Evolution Date:  6/6/2001  3:23 PM
Author:  coolerthanranch Number:  1423 of 25921

I take my philosophical starting point as roughly in accordance with Searle, but a bit more "hard AI" in some ways. In other words: Conciousness is not a thing, but a function of the brain, in the same way that the circulation of blood is not a thing, but a property of the vasculature and heart. It is thus neither an object, nor a non-material entity, but a property which an object posesses. In this view point, the "problem" of qualia is not an insurmountable puzzle for conciousness, but simply a description of part of the concious state. The major difference between conciousness and all other visceral functions is that we view (erroneously) a combination of language and entirely subjective states to discuss the visceral function, forgetting that language and subjective states are the visceral function. It is a cognitive trap that is subtle and elusive.
Penrose, and all the other "spooky" theorists of conciousness avoid several facts:

1. Conciousness is made of parts, and lesion studies show that in humans. Concious experience is not bound into a seamless whole: things are at the edge and the center of experiance depending on circumstances, and circumstances will also cause things to intrude that are not objectively real (hallucinations) and cause objectively real phenomena to drop out of sight (Chronic pain is no longer noticed except as irritability).

2. The brain has a specific architecture, and lesions in the brain cause specific syndromes. These syndromes are best explained by the activity of neurons in those areas, and their anatomical connections. These lesions can also alter the capacity of objects to enter the concious