Tal Cohen's Bookshelf: A Collection of Personal Opinions about Books
(In reply to Beepoh's message posted on Friday, 13 June 2008 at 17:22 GMT)

Dani Blance writes in reply to Beepoh:
Totally unsatisfying!
Well, sure, understanding the brain would be great, but the task of understanding how and why the workings of the brain lead to/are identical to the workings of the mind is called 'the hard problem of consciousness' for a reason! The real problem isn't knowing more about the brain, it's knowing the bridge laws, if there are any, between the physical, functional workings of the brain and our experiences. Without understanding these bridge laws (having solved the hard problem) we couldn't make sense of multiple realisability; we would only be able to speculate about the mental properties of any artificial brain that wasn't merely a molecule-for-molecule copy of a biological brain. (Does it meet the conditions for consciousness or is it just close enough to have superficially similar but contentless functional states?). So I have to say, I disagree with your view that hard science could so easily do away with speculation.
[331] Posted on Monday, 16 June 2008 at 0:44 GMT [Reply to this] [Permalink]

Beepoh writes in reply to Dani Blance:
Totally unsatisfying!
You're right, there is room for speculation and it is an important part of the process. I suppose what I do find frustrating though is the fact that these kind of debates are 'speculation heavy'. Moreover, I'm really not sure that this speculation is getting us anywhere right now.

I'm not diminishing the importance of the hard problem either. The hard problem is ultimately the nut that we all want to see cracked. But remember, the distinction between the hard problem and the easy problem is a coined-in concept which may or may not turn out to be helpful in the end, a kind of Cartesian divide in disguise. At this point there is really no reason to believe that the 'easy' problem is simpler to solve than the hard problem. And who knows, maybe on the way to solving the easy problem we will find clues on how to solve the hard one. I think this is our best shot at this, and I also believe that this is exactly what DRH is doing in the lab when he's not writing books about Chopin's soul-shards.
[332] Posted on Monday, 16 June 2008 at 9:57 GMT [Reply to this] [Permalink]

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