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NATS 1860- Consiousness.docx

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York University
Natural Science
NATS 1860
Keith Schneider

NATS 1860: Consciousness Philosophy of Mind Defining Consciousness: The awareness of environmental and cognitive events such as the sights and sounds of the world as well as ones memories, thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. What is mental imagery?  Experience that resembles perceptual experience, but which occurs in the absence of the appropriate stimuli for the relevant perception  Any of the senses: sights, sounds, feelings.. Phenomenology of Consciousness  Ability to discriminate, categorize, and react to environmental stimuli  The integration of information by a cognitive system  The report ability of mental states (consciousness is the awareness of your current mental states, therefore you are able to report on your state)  The ability of a system to access its own internal states  The focus of attention (what you are paying attention to is what you are conscious of, you can be conscious of in your periphery, yet your attention may not entirely be there  The deliberate control of behavior  The difference between wakefulness and sleep Easy vs. Hard Problems  Chalmers (1996) suggests the previous aspects of consciousness will eventually be explained scientifically. He calls these the “easy problems of consciousness”  Ex. When a certain part of the brain is active, what is conscious  The hard problem is the problem of experience  There is “ something it is like” to be conscious  Experiences have qualities (qualia_ not reducible to physical properties: redness, depth, sounds, smells, emotions, images  Phenomenal consciousness, subjective level  But how do we know how hard a problem is before we have solved it? Mind- Body Problem  What is the relationship between mental events (ex. Perception, pains, hopes, desires, beliefs) and physical events (e.g. Brain activity)  Dualism: the mind and body are distinct entities  Idealism: there are only mental entities  Materialism: there are only physical entities (your brain is an emergent property, computer program running on your brain) Dualism  Cartesian dualism (substance dualism): the mind and body are two different substances  What is the substance of “red” or “pain”?  Do experiences have properties that ordinary physical matter does not?  Intentionality: experiences inherently relate to something else  Interactionism: mind and body interact somehow  Epiphenomenalism: mental states done play any causal role Materialism  Reductive materialism: mental events will ultimately be reduced to material events (mind- brain identity theory_  Like “Heat” is reducible to kinetic energy  Heat is a velocity of molecules bouncing around, whether it be in a liquid or a solid. It is categorized as a physical property.  Eliminative Materialism: some of our current concepts concerning mental states will be found invalid and will be eliminated from scientific vocabulary  Like “vitalism” and “ether” ex. Vitalism being the life force in things, fluid of life that passes through your body. They didn’t know anything about cells and neurons, therefore they justified it by using mysticism. Consciousness and Behavior  Perceptual Rivalry (spinning ballerina)  How do we know whether something is conscious? o Consciousness is subjective (internal, private) o Criteria for consciousness  Behavioral similarity  Physical Similarity  Like a “Turing Test” for consciousness? Ex. If you cannot tell the difference between what is conscious and what isn’t, it isn’t fair to say what is consciousness.  Turing Test: You communicate electronically with A and B, can you tell which one is the computer, if not, then the computer is said to have passed the Turing Test for intelligence  Zombies? Look like they are conscious, but they are really not. Are Your Mental States the same as my mental states?  Inverted spectrum argument  Alien is raised on a planet where red/ green is revered. In their language, grass is
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