[rebooting, as per instruction]Gertie wrote: ↑January 10th, 2019, 5:03 pmJames, as I jumped the gun before, if you want to lay out what you think your thought experiment implies about qualia, maybe we can re-boot.
I don't/can't know if a virus is conscious, because we don't know the necessary and sufficient conditions for experiential states, but I doubt it because it's so dissimilar to what we agree are conscious critters. In lieu of a Theory of Consciousness, similarity of structure, processes, behaviour (and in the case of humans, reports) is what have to go on.
And I agree that teleonomy is a framing which allows us conscious critters to recognise a functional difference.
I have a theory of consciousness. This theory posits:
1. The fundamental unit of consciousness is a process.
2. Any (not necessarily conscious-type) process can be described as an input to a mechanism (broadly defined) which produces an output in response.
3. A necessary part of a consciousness-type process is a requirement that the input be a symbolic sign.
4. A further necessary part is a requirement that the mechanism has a teleonomic purpose with respect to that sign such that
5. the response to that sign serves the purpose relative to the meaning of the sign.
Now it is possible to have a mechanism which can respond to many inputs. It is also possible that all of those inputs could be physically the same, but that they are “wired” to the mechanism so that they are distinguishable. This would be the case with a bundle of wires. Each wire would look the same, but the mechanism is “wired” to respond to each one separately. All of the wires would thus have identical properties except for the meaning of the wire. This meaning is established by the mechanism.
Let’s suppose the mechanism could attach a unique word to each wire. From the perspective of the mechanism, the only differences between the wires are their meanings, so the word would be a symbolic sign with the same meaning as the associated wire. Suppose you could converse with the mechanism regarding the state of the wires. You turn a wire on and ask, which wire is on? The mechanism would respond “X”, where X is the meaning of the wire that is on.
The point is that the meaning of the wires functions exactly like qualia. It’s ineffable, it’s subjective, it’s meaningful. It looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. Maybe it’s a duck.