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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/i-have-read-the-searle-reference-and-have-some-15128392.aspx

Subject:  Re: Consciousness and its relationship to Evolut Date:  6/7/2001  4:20 PM
Author:  coolerthanranch Number:  1462 of 25027

I have read the Searle reference and have some comments. I think it is a great article and but in it Searle simply asserts that consciousness is caused by biological process in the brain. He says alot of people object to this statement. (At least I am not alone.) Searle says that he cannot describe how consciousness comes from biological processes but he says words to the effect

"We do not know how consciousness arises from biological processes, but we know that it does."

To motivate this assertion he points out that 100 years ago when biochemistry was completely unknown life seemed as miraculous as consciousness, and that now we don't understand why anyone would think this unplausible.

Fair enough. But I have a counter analogy. Four hundred years ago (more or less) it was believed that life was spontaneously generated from dead matter. The fact that patent to seventeenth century scientists. I can well imagine one of them saying, "we don't know how it happens, but we do know that it happens."

I cannot follow your agument at all because you use the words consciousness, subjective, and mind all in a circular way. Essentially you are saying:

"Consciousness is a subjective phenomenon arising in the mind." You find no argument here, but I don't think you've explained anything.

Your argument against ID is a formidable one if you accept that that consciousness must exist in some physical structure. Thank you for bringing out the salient features.

Now, are people's opinions:

(1) It is a scientific fact, as certain as any other, that consciousness is a consequence of biological activity.

2) It is not a scientific fact, but I believe it.

(3) It is not a fact, and I reserve judgement.

(4) It is not a fact, and I don't believe it.

(5) It is a scientific fact that consciousness does not require a physical substrate.

For the record I vote for 3, with a bias towards 4.





The argument is not circular: Concsciousness is a subjective experiance of an aware brain. There is huge difference between "aware mind" and "aware brain" and if I confused them, my apologies. Like I say, its tricky.

Put it this way: can a brain hallucinate without being concious? Of course: we could stimulate your visual cortex to make you think you saw a pattern that did not exist. Well, in theory we could do that to a fly as well: stimulate its (say) antennae with electrical discharges so that it would experiance a discharge of impulses in such a way that it would "hear" the wings of another fly when no such fly was present. Hence awareness of a stimulus is not the same as conciousness: conciousness is part of our experiance of awareness.

Point #2: We know that biological activity in the brain is absolutely necessary for manifestations of conciousness. This is an undeniable fact.

We do not know of any other process that is necessary for conciousness. This is also a fact.

The question is: is biological activity sufficient for consciousness in the brain"? After 200 years of searching, we haven't found anything other than philosophical argument that suggests that something other than biological activity is necessary. All we have definately found is that we don't know how the biology works, but that is hardly an objection. We are, after all, discussing the most complex single structure within our knowlege: the brain. Hence, I see no reason to adopt anything other than #1, unless you are going to adopt #3 for everything else too. That's simply a stance, but I have yet to see any empirical evidence that would make me change this stance.

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