[ExI] Newbie Question: Consciousness and Intelligence

Christopher Luebcke cluebcke at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 15 07:54:13 UTC 2010

Thanks for all the responses to my queries. At least among the respondents, it seems that there are not sufficiently-agreed-upon definitions of "consciousness" or "intelligence" (nor, I suspect, of "mind") for truly effective communication to take place. Moreover, it seems that there is wide disagreement over how "intelligence" and "consciousness" are related to one another.

I am no cognitive scientist, biologist or psychologist (or any sort of useful -ist) and I wouldn't be nearly so bold as to propose definitions of these terms that I think are "correct". I would, however, humbly suggest that if the application of these terms is important, yet their definitions are not agreed-upon, it may be that the definitions can be decomposed into small enough constituent parts that a fruitful conversation could be had about the genesis, relationship, importance and reproducibility of those constituents.

It does seem, from what I've read, that there is no consensus definition of "intelligence" or "consciousness" even among the experts in these fields. Assuming that is the case, then the definitions could vary so widely that the statements

  Intelligence cannot exist without consciousness


  Intelligence can exist without consciousness

could in fact both be true, because the persons making these statements could have divergent enough definitions for "intelligence" and "consciousness" that the two statements, inflated to replace the terms in question with their intended meanings, might not be contradictory.

I won't be quite so humble as to not give my two cents, though, which are essentially that if it can't be detected or measured, it's not fruitful to have a debate about anything empirical relating to it. In the can-be-measured category I believe we can place "intelligence", as the various definitions, while divergent, do seem to share an empirical bent. In the can't-be-measured category I suspect we'll find "consciousness"--though we may well find that several of the things we're thinking of when we say "consciousness" can in fact be measured or detected.


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