[ExI] How not to make a thought experiment

John Clark jonkc at bellsouth.net
Sun Feb 14 18:28:33 UTC 2010

Since my last post Gordon Swobe has posted 8 times.

> I wonder for example why some people here have trouble with my observation that amoebas (and most organisms on earth) have intelligence but no consciousness. 

The answer is that unlike Swobe some people on this list have knowledge about how Evolution works and realize that intelligence without consciousness is biological gibberish. The also know its rather dumb to talk about observing consciousness.

> In my view the mind exists as a *high-level physical feature* of the nervous system.

Rather like "fast" is a high-level feature of a racing car.

> the mind does not exist as something separate from the brain

Fast is separate from a racing car.

> Can't we make a real distinction between the mental and the physical?


> Most people think this way, including even many philosophical materialists who claim not to. But it's only the dualistic voice of Descartes speaking to us from beyond the grave. We are his intellectual descendants. I finally shook off that Cartesian illusion and now the world makes a lot more sense.

I have not observed Swobe shaking off any of his illusions, Cartesian or otherwise; and just like anybody else continues to use both the words "mind" and "brain", and in his usage he carefully distinguishes between the two. Swobe would never say "he had an operation to remove a mind tumor" or "I have changed my brain" but if he really wasn't a dualist he should be comfortable with both those sentences.   

> I feel comfortable saying 1) humans have consciousness

I am quite certain that Swobe is NOT comfortable in saying that all humans are conscious, just humans that act intelligently. I am quite certain Swobe doesn't think sleeping people are conscious, or people in a deep coma, or dead people. 

> the Turing test does not measure the strong AI attributes that concern me. 

Nothing can measure "strong AI", not the Turing Test not Evolution and not even Gordon Swobe; and if you can't measure something Science has no use for it, although religion might.

> It is true that I "project" consciousness onto other humans but I don't do this based solely on their ability to pass the Turing test or on their interactions with me. As above, I do it based also on their physiology.

So before Gordon Swobe learned physiology in college he thought he was the only conscious being in the universe, but that changed when he learned physiology even though he freely and frequently tells us that neither he nor anybody else has any idea how consciousness is produced. Interestingly just a century ago when almost no physiology was known nobody thought other minds existed, and even today most are ignorant on the subject so they must believe they are alone too. 

 John K Clark

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