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Author Topic: What is the cause of self-awareness?  (Read 15270 times)
Valaggar
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What is the cause of self-awareness?
« on: February 19, 2007, 02:20:20 pm »

If we had no soul, then how could we be aware of our existence (e.g. how could we have qualia)? We would be robots! Matter by itself cannot explain our self-awareness. I mean, can you BE a computer, for example? No! Even if it's as (or more) complex as a human brain. You ARE a human being because of your soul. You cannot be a table or a chair, for example - only a living being. Not even a robot.

What is your opinion?
« Last Edit: October 14, 2007, 02:40:02 pm by Valaggar the Wackrazy One » Logged
Elvish Pillager
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2007, 03:17:01 pm »

Self-awareness? What self-awareness?! Can you observe self-awareness? Can you give scientific evidence that it exists?

No?

HA! It DOESN'T exist. It's just a delusion.
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Deus Siddis
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2007, 03:28:38 pm »

I am not sure if 'self-awarness' is the right question for deciding if something is really a spirit. That is to small a category, and I am not sure how well defined it is.
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Valaggar
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2007, 03:58:57 pm »

Quote from: Deus_Siddis
I am not sure if 'self-awarness' is the right question for deciding if something is really a spirit. That is to small a category, and I am not sure how well defined it is.
I am defining self-awareness as awareness in general. You are aware of the existence of yourself, you ARE yourself. You are different from a, say, computer or mirror, because you can take decisions, for example, you have FREE WILL. I understand, it's hard to define. And I'm not referring only to self-awareness, you see.

Quote from: Elvish Pillager
Self-awareness? What self-awareness?! Can you observe self-awareness? Can you give scientific evidence that it exists?

No?

HA! It DOESN'T exist. It's just a delusion.

That's downright nihilism.
Can you give scientific evidence that, say, the chair you are sitting on exists? NO! You can say that you see it. But can you trust your senses?
Self-awareness is proven by itself. It is a primary notion. By being self-aware you are aware that you are self-aware.
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Elvish Pillager
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2007, 04:17:42 pm »

Can you give scientific evidence that, say, the chair you are sitting on exists? NO! You can say that you see it. But can you trust your senses?
Self-awareness is proven by itself. It is a primary notion. By being self-aware you are aware that you are self-aware.
Aha, but there's a big difference there.

I can sense a chair; I can smack it, and it hurts, I can feel it, I can see it. I can see the text on the screen, etc, etc.

But you can't smack your so-called "self-awareness", you can't feel it, you can't see it. I, as a human, can see with my eyes, and feel with the nerve endings in my hands, etc, etc. If you want to define "self-awareness" as the ability to sense things, then it's just your nervous system. If you want to define it as your ability to sense yourself, it's still your nervous system (since yourself is a physical entity, it can be sensed like any other.) If you want to define it as your ability to know that you exist, that's in your neurons, and again, it's part of the nervous system, and perfectly explicable by physical laws.

If you want to define "self-awareness" as "being aware that you are self-aware" then you have a circular definition, and thus, although I can't argue against that, it is not, itself, and argument in the first place, and it doesn't say anything.

If you want to say "self-awareness is proven by itself", then you're just making completely unfounded claims and/or using circular logic, and I can step out, as it is pointless discussing with you.
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Death 999
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2007, 04:19:09 pm »

If an information processing system contains a model of itself, then one can say it is self-aware.
You can choose to call such an arrangement the beginning of a 'soul', like Douglas Hofstadter does.
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Draxas
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2007, 04:24:50 pm »

As an extension of your argument, Valaggar, since you seem to hold the idea that "a soul is required to be self aware," fill me in on this: When we inevitably design an artificial intelligence that becomes self aware, is it mystically imbued with a soul at that very instant? Because it would seem to me that it's just the electrical connections interacting in a particular way to cause the understanding of the concept of self awareness (much like the human brain, really).
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Valaggar
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2007, 04:40:34 pm »

Quote from: Elvish Pillager
I can sense a chair; I can smack it, and it hurts, I can feel it, I can see it. I can see the text on the screen, etc, etc.
BINGO! That's (self)-awareness! (I repeat, I use this term because I lack a better one; I'm in fact referring to general awareness and to free will).

Quote from: Elvish Pillager
then it's just your nervous system
The n.s. relays the info to the brain. The brain interpretes it. It works out a response. But somewhere in the process, YOU get to choose the response. (Free will!)

And don't expect the notion and the soul to be so easy to comprehend. They're not material, after all.

Quote from: Elvish Pillager
you're just making completely unfounded claims and/or using circular logic
Yes, I am perfectly aware that it is circular reasoning. I used it to show that you cannot prove self-awareness through valid methods. Neither dismiss it.

Quote from: Elvish Pillager
If you want to define it as your ability to sense yourself, it's still your nervous system

You are a physical body, still. Yes. I was not referring to the ability to sense your body.

Quote from: Death 999
If an information processing system contains a model of itself, then one can say it is self-aware.
If you are a simple physical body with no soul, why are you yourself? I mean, remember the robot analogy. A robot, no matter how complex, is not alive. Because it has no soul.

Quote from: Draxas
When we inevitably design an artificial intelligence that becomes self aware, is it mystically imbued with a soul at that very instant? Because it would seem to me that it's just the electrical connections interacting in a particular way to cause the understanding of the concept of self awareness (much like the human brain, really).
Artificial intelligence cannot become self-aware; self-awareness is transcendental. It of course needs more than just electricity.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2007, 02:41:30 pm by Valaggar the Wackrazy One » Logged
RTyp06
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2007, 06:07:22 pm »

I didn't know this was heavy concepts week!

I think people need to believe in a soul so that the Hitlers of the world will recieve a seperate fate from the Mother Theresas of the world. We also have a need of self importance. To think that our efforts upon this world are not all in vain.

I believe we are all thiests. Some believe in god and some find god in science and scientific theories. We all have the need to satisfy that same void.
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Elvish Pillager
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2007, 06:25:18 pm »

RTyp06, those are nice opinions.
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2007, 10:26:10 pm »

Quote from: Death 999
If an information processing system contains a model of itself, then one can say it is self-aware.
If you are a simple physical body with no soul, why are you yourself? I mean, remember the robot analogy. A robot, no matter how complex, is not alive. Because it has no soul.

And there you are completely wrong. Why does it not have a soul if it is capable of thinking about itself, thinking about people, having opinions, and so forth? You are mixing two definitions of soul, the second of which has nothing to do with the first and, frankly, is baldly biased against other modes of existence.
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2007, 01:21:32 am »

Here you're trying to prove that we all have a soul solely on the fact that were human...can you now prove that a (computer) with artificial intelligence doesn't have one?

Star Trek ventured down this question in an episode were DATA's self awareness came into question. Does DATA have a soul? Could you prove he doesn't (IF) he were a REAL construct and not a fictional character? That's what intelligence is...being self aware. That's what most evolutionists are trying to discover is when we went from animal instinct to intelligence...from monkey to man...the missing link...

GOD...perhaps...but I question how two people Man and Women could populate the world without having genetic problems from inbreeding...that, and if GOD only put man on one planet in this great big universe, all I have to say is...what a waste of space...
« Last Edit: February 20, 2007, 01:25:26 am by DEFIANT » Logged
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2007, 09:55:07 am »

Artificial intelligence cannot become self-aware; self-awareness is transcendental. It of course needs more than just electricity.
I'd suggest looking at the matter from the flip side: assuming for the moment that all (or at least most) humans are intelligent and self-aware, we already have a process for constructing an intelligent, self-aware being; it's called "reproduction". Constructing an artificial intelligence with self-awareness then reduces to reverse engineering and reproducing the human mind (admittedly a highly non-trivial task). One of the questions raised in doing this is how much can a human mind be changed before losing self-awareness and/or intelligence; calling a test-tube baby an "artificial intelligence" would be stretching the term quite a bit. The assumption here is that we can construct a non-human mind that retains the properties of intelligence and self-awareness; considering that other animals show some signs of both (albeit less clearly than humans), there is probably room for quite a lot of variation.

Intelligence can, to some extent, be determined by outside observation. Methods include IQ tests, which typically measure ability at solving some sort of puzzle, and the Turing test, which tests whether a machine is intelligent by checking whether it can converse with human beings in a way indistinguishable from a human being. If it converses like a human, you have as good a reason to believe it is intelligent as you have to believe that the people posting here are intelligent based on their posts. Experiments also strongly suggest that behaviour is determined by physical processes in the brain, which supports the idea that intelligence is a physical process.

Self-awareness is a lot harder to handle, as the only way we have of directly detecting it is experiencing your own self. For all I know, you could all be a bunch of zombies (albeit quite intelligent ones) and I'm the only consciousness (I'm assuming this is false, on the grounds that the observations I can make suggest you are like me). Although hypotheses have been advanced regarding the physical nature of consciousness (e.g. that the EM field of the brain is the consciousness, which is pretty much the opposite of Valaggar's assertion, or that consciousness is the path-selecting mechanism in a many-worlds quantum multiverse), it is unclear whether any of these can be tested. One important question here is whether consciousness exists in a separate entity to the brain (a "soul") or not. In this case, one could have soulless humans, disembodied souls and/or transfer of souls between brains. However, unless the soul carries with it something that can be observed (e.g. memories), we have no way of identifying it without directly experiencing it. If a soul exists separately from the material brain, one wonders how it attaches to the brain when the brain is grown. In any case, I don't see any particular reason why an artificially created mind wouldn't get a soul, just like a newborn baby (unless it is somehow transmitted from the parents or assigned by some so far unobserved entity (e.g. God)).

Based on the above reasoning, I find it plausible that intelligence and consciousness arise from physical processes and that a non-human conscious intelligence could therefore be created artificially, although I'm quite uncertain about the consciousness part. However, as I'm equally uncertain about the consciousness of human beings, I believe that we should err on the side of acceptance if and when we create or run into artificial intelligence.
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2007, 10:15:40 am »

Just something I had bookmarked: The Mystery of Consciousness
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Valaggar
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2007, 02:33:52 pm »

You see, especially after reading Arne's bookmarked article, that it is very strange to explain our consciousness as the presence of some physical processes in the brain. What DO THEY HAVE SO SPECIAL?! Why isn't, then, any physical process conscious? Just because these processes are used in thinking? They have no idea what they are used for, after all.
More logical is to explain a transcendental phenomenon such as consciousness by transcendental means such as the existence of the soul.
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