The Being And Its Predicates
Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on February 14, 2008
I hope I’m not becoming boring to everyone with this ‘consciousness is nothing but being such and such system’, but I keep thinking about it and thinking what follows from it.
I mentioned in the previous post, that the physicalist will say that the ‘problematic’ features of consciousness like the qualitative aspect, the subjectivity and the unity of consciousness can’t be found in the description, as the description is a predicate, and those things are nothing but the being of such system to which the predicate can be given.
Based on this, (if needed) the reductive physicalist can give an answer why for example there won’t be consciousness when we are doing calculations on paper of what will happen with some brain system. That is, in the process of calculating what will happen with certain system, by e.g. taking the state of the system at some time, and then figuring out what will happen with the system in the time after that, there is no actual system with actual being, what we are doing is merely calculating the predicates. The predicates are usually not predicates of the system which calculates the predicates. In usual case the predicates are represented in this calculating system, and are not really predicates of that calculating system. Symbols mean predicates, and are not predicates.
Of course, there is another option open. There possibly can be predicates which are predicates of the system which calculates the predicates of another system. If we predicate implementation of some computation to the original system, by building another system which calculates the predicates of that system, we would end up with a system which also has the predicates that certain computation. IF the brain’s BEING (assuming again consciousness as being idea) is related to implementing some computation, that is IF the ontology of the universe is somehow related to ‘implementing certain computation’, then we might expect that doing calculations on paper might BE, and hence be conscious. Or, which is similar, having a computer which will do the calculations, in that case might have being (and consciousness).
If we think of what ‘implementing a computation’ might mean, we will probably go into the discussion of physical systems with parts, that have specific causal structure, something like Chalmer’s “A physical system implements a given computation when the causal structure of the physical system mirrors the formal structure of the computation.” (here). For sure, we don’t want to take a disconnected systems all over the universe, each of which might happen to perform some part of the whole computation, and say that there is some kind of being there. (for some discussion of those issues see my previous posts Can we digitize the brain and retain consciousness and Consciousness and Special Relativity). There are certainly lot of questions, if one goes that way.
I’m more inclined to think that there is some other metaphysical criteria for being (which would answer the question, which of the things we think of as being are actually being?). Saying that calculating what will happen in some brain, will be being on its own, sounds, well… weird to me. I’m more inclined to go with saying that similarly to how when a computer calculates what will happen with a drop of rain the computer will not be a rain, if it calculates what happens with a brain, it will not BE brain (nor have consciousness). The whole idea seems to me to remove the distinction between reality (what is) and fiction.
This entry was posted on February 14, 2008 at 8:08 am and is filed under Blogging, Consciousness, Metaphysics, Philosophy, Technology and Software. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.