virus: Re: virus-digest V3 #7

John Dale (
Sat, 9 Jan 1999 16:14:50 -0700

Dear Robin,

You wrote:

> In message <>, David McFadzean
> <> writes
> >>I agree "conscious" and "alive" are similar in some
> >>ways. But it seems we disagree on whether the
> >>question "could a machine really be conscious" is a
> >>practical or a theoretical one. It seems obviously
> >>the latter, to me, but apparently not to you.
> >
> >I see it as both a practical question and a theoretical
> >one. I don't think there is anything magical about
> >consciousness. Therefore it is necessarily a natural
> >phenomenon.
> I don't agree with your dichotomy. You forgot "man-
> made": neither magical nor natural. Not that I'm
> saying consciousness is manmade in the usual sense.
> 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!
> And every time you try to pin it down, you'll end
> up talking about something else altogether, or
> about nothing at all. Just try it!
> - --
> Robin

Robin, if consciousness is "not there", then what is the difference to you between being asleep and being awake? Typically we talk about "states of consciousness". Various sciences and traditional teachings point to two or more basic states, "states" here referring to degrees of intensity or depth.

I need to read books like Dennett's *Consciousness Explained*, but it puzzles me how anyone could think that consciousness simply doesn't exist at all in some sense of that word and that it does not have variations of intensity.


John Dale