[ExI] Does the computational theory of mind imply a "soul"?

Max More maxmore01 at gmail.com
Mon Apr 3 16:59:16 UTC 2023

Jason, thank you for your informative and helpful reply. I think we are
very close to agreeing on the important points.

I take your point about the evolution of language. I’m not ready to use the
term “soul” while understanding it from a functionalist perspective, but
perhaps I will at some point if I think it won’t lead to misunderstanding.
You are right, of course, that we often retain a word even though our
understanding of the underlying phenomenon has changed radically. We still
use the term “calorie” even though no one believes there is a real fluid
called caloric. We even still talk about the sun rising as if we are
geocentrists. If there were not other terms such as “mind” and
“consciousness”, I would probably adopt “soul”.

There are other terms such as “demon” that we have dropped and replaced by
terms like “mental illness” or “lesion in the x area”.We have also
abandoned the term "phlogiston."  As of now, I’m too put off by the
connotations of “soul” but this is a matter of taste. Your explanation
makes sense.

One other area where I may disagree still – and I’m not sure about this –
is where you say “Our consciousness may even exist in purely
mathematical/platonic objects, or existing as a necessary consequence of
mathematical truth.” That seems to conflict with your agreement that some
physical instantiation is needed (and I mean to include energy in
“physical”) and with your agreement in disputing Moravec’s
mind-as-interpretation view.

The remaining area where I have doubt is the idea that *any* Turing
implementation would be a conscious mind. I think that not all causal
relationships that output coherent responses that satisfy Turing will be
conscious. However, I’m years behind on my philosophy of mind and rusty and
so I’m not going to try to defend that view at this time.


P.S. I notice that my posts keep coming out with apostrophes replaced with
question marks. I’m going to put this into plain text before posting and
see if that fixes the problem.

Max More, PhD
Director of Communications
Biostasis Technologies
Editor, *The transhumanist Reader*
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