[ExI] Consciousness as 'brute fact' and meta-skepticism

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Sat Feb 8 20:02:42 UTC 2020

Defining words by equating them to other words gets you exactly nowhere.
It's circular. Consciousness - awareness.  If you are going to be
scientific then you need operational definitions, which are that the
concept is defined in terms of the measurements.  Now an operational
definition (OD) does not tell you what something IS.  It tells you how it
was measured, like IQ is defined as a score on an accepted intelligence

If you can't measure it, it isn't science.  However, all things start in
the descriptive phase where all you can do is to use words for it.  But you
have to invent tools to measure it so that you can communicate with your
fellow scientists just what you did.  Highly preferable:  math measurements
on an equal interval scale, like pounds or miles.

Telling a person that intelligence is a score on an IQ test is very
unsatisfactory, but that is what ODs do.  You could, perhaps, define
consciousness by EEG tests, by reactions or lack of them, to various
stimuli.  Here is where creativity comes in.

No matter what you do, you will get flak from people who think that that's
not what consciousness really is, any more than an IQ score is really
intelligence.  Then you take your measurements and see what they correlate
with, like IQ with school test scores,and go on from there.

bill w

On Sat, Feb 8, 2020 at 1:19 PM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On 07/02/2020 18:57, Will Steinberg wrote:
> > It has always bugged me when otherwise rigorous science-types claim
> > that consciousness JUST IS.
> Well, before you start explaining something, you need to define it. How
> do we define consciousness? Is there an accepted definition? 'Awareness'
> seems to be the most common one, but that seems fairly simple to
> explain, in terms of information in systems, that allows them to react
> to their environment and other systems, and even themselves
> (self-awareness).
> Somehow, though, I suspect that won't be enough for some people.
> If that's the case, those people need to come up with (and agree on) a
> definition of 'consciousness' that we can use as a starting point for
> investigation.
> Maybe the actual problem here is defining the word in a way that is
> meaningful and amenable to scientific investigation (which brings us
> back to 'Awareness', as far as I can see,  and that's not something that
> 'just is', it's something we can already explain).
> Any other suggestions?
> --
> Ben Zaiboc
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> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
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