Re: virus: kurzweil cuts the mustard

Robin Faichney (
Fri, 8 Jan 1999 19:38:52 +0000

In message <>, David McFadzean <> writes
>>Just that it's a meme that serves a function in
>>human relationships, and that there is *nothing*
>>"out there" to which it "points". Not just that
>>it has fuzzy boundaries, or that we can't define
>>it sufficiently well, but that IT AIN'T THERE!
>Would you say it (consciousness) is like colour in
>that sense? That it is necessarily subjective, even
>though it is obviously correlated with an external
>pattern (wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation in
>the case of colour).

Nope. I don't think there's anything that corresponds to consciousness as wavelength corresponds to colour. (Is that the usual Canadian spelling?)

(But, as an aside, I don't think matter is any more real than consciousness.)

>If not, could you give some examples of other distinction
>memes that <consciousness> is like and unlike?

OK, how about <sexiness>? Nobody would claim that there's any particular thing "out there" that is sexiness -- it's entirely subjective. Of course, that doesn't rule out quite a lot of agreement on what's sexy and what's not, for which the technical term is "intersubjectivity". Similarly, we all agree that all humans are to be considered conscious -- but the more unlike us the thing in question is, the less likely we are to consider it conscious. That's because the main function of <conscious> is to denote those things with which we might identify, things which we see as having a point of view, being capable of experiencing pleasure, pain, etc.

<Consciousness> is different from <sexiness>, and more complicated, because when we consider someone conscious, we recognise that they, in turn, might or might not consider *us* to be conscious. A lot of the confusion over consciousness stems from that mutual recursion, I think.

BTW, it may or may not already be obvious that I use the word in a slightly different way from you, David -- for me <conscious> is more-or-less equivalent to <aware>, while for you it seems it's more like <self-aware>.