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Author Topic: What is the cause of self-awareness?  (Read 15271 times)
Deus Siddis
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #75 on: March 14, 2007, 04:53:43 pm »

Elvish_Pillager
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I don't believe that this is the case. I think that what you are referring to when you say "emotions" is something that I do not understand and have not experienced. Furthermore, something which might not exist.

Simply you or anyone else experiencing feelings, regardless of what they think they are, or what they really are. That is what I meant. And if you choose not to recognize feelings as existing at all, well then we are just living in two completely different worlds.

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I agree, I think that free will is just as unimportant to talk about as emotions.

Everyone has a right to their opinion.

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Scientifically, the "spirit" model isn't an explanation at all - it just says "It happens because of a spirit!", which doesn't say anything - while the matter/energy one is a pretty good explanation because reasonable predictions can be made based on it.

I believe science is the tortoise and religion is the hare, as they have sometimes been compared to by others. The hare darts around very quickly and covers a lot of ground trying to explain everything, but it ends up running around in circles and making arrogant assumptions about how it will beat the tortoise no matter what. Science is the slow, steady, rock-like racer who does a more efficient job of getting there and wins in the end, but still takes painfully long to get there. The thing is even though they might not be in this race, there are more than just two animals out there, and they all have their own styles.

You cannot make me come to a conclusion that seems incorrect to me by saying "Scientifically. . .etc." just as a someone who is religious cannot change my mind by simply saying "Morally. . .etc." I might have scales or four legs or some other similarities to the tortoise, but I am still a different animal that is not completely bound to one philosophy or another.


Death_999
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So you are postulating something which exerts a force on the matter in our brains to change the decisions that would be made otherwise.

If it feels, then I do not think the decision could have been "made otherwise."


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Our brains are definitely capable of producing actions which are best characterized as decisions, without any external aid.

Well then they should not need us to be experiencing feelings, they should just function.


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We can make machines that can make decisions. We haven't figured out how to program choices. If you get the distinction.

No, I am afraid I do not know exactly what you mean, and I do not what to assume. What is your distinction?


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A continuum of brains exist in animals. Unless you wish to suggest that spirits guide all of those brains too, from roundworm on up, you must allow that our brain on its own could make decisions.

I really do not know where the line would be drawn.


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If what you postulate did not have state, it would be time independent.

Possibly, all I know is that when in combination with the brain, you have time dependence, as far as this idea or explanation goes.


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Now, when it moves from one state to another, something must govern what state its moves into.

Why? Can it be self-governed?


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Consider the roundworm, with its tiny little brain. We understand that one pretty well. Nothing but matter is needed to cause every action in it. Scale that up, get some animal's brain. We see decisions. But objects of that size are perfectly capable of carrying out the calculations of those decisions. We could consider such an animal to possess free will because of the way those decisions are carried out. Continue scaling up, and you get a human being. It looks like one, it acts like one, it is one down to the tiniest detail. But it's all matter. This is what EP was referring to, the 'philosophical zombie'. It's human in every physical detail. It says it's human. It seems to all exterior purposes like it experiences pain, falls in love, learns, and expounds on subjects of interest.

Okay so some animals have larger and more complicated brains and some can do things that the others are not even remotely capable of. Then you apply the reflex property to humans. I do not see where this is going.


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Its reaction if you told it that it did not have a subjective experience associated with it would be very unpredictable in certain respects, but it would most certainly not agree with you.

So then you must certainly not agree as well?


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This is a completely horrible analogy. Seriously. A better analogy is my looking up in the sky and saying "Gee, there's the sun." While you're saying, "No there isn't. That's just a bunch of incandescently hot hydrogen." Can you see why you're getting strange looks?

This being a message forum, I did not know I was getting strange looks in the first place. Elvish's avatar just shows a stop sign and I cannot read kohr-ah expressions with much accuracy. Smiley
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #76 on: March 15, 2007, 02:47:39 pm »

Death_999
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So you are postulating something which exerts a force on the matter in our brains to change the decisions that would be made otherwise.
If it feels, then I do not think the decision could have been "made otherwise."

Letters on the screen are a pattern of light which strikes my retina, exciting nerves in such a pattern as to create a representation of them in my optic system. Then the visual language system parses those patterns into the nerve-firing-pattern symbols used in the rest of the brain. Connections to memory are made, bringing forth the nerve-firing pattern symbols for related ideas and context. The model of the statement made, response options are weighed, their effectiveness again modelled. One of those models fits the paramters best, and the steps to realize it are taken.

I call this a decision.
You are either calling the same exact reaction not a decision, or you think that brains cannot do these calculations.

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Our brains are definitely capable of producing actions which are best characterized as decisions, without any external aid.

Well then they should not need us to be experiencing feelings, they should just function.

If an implementation of a feeling exists, the feeling exists.



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We can make machines that can make decisions. We haven't figured out how to program choices. If you get the distinction.

No, I am afraid I do not know exactly what you mean, and I do not what to assume. What is your distinction?

A decision is a determination of what to do based on what you want.
A choice is a determination of what you want.

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A continuum of brains exist in animals. Unless you wish to suggest that spirits guide all of those brains too, from roundworm on up, you must allow that our brain on its own could make decisions.

I really do not know where the line would be drawn.

I do not think there is a line.

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If what you postulate did not have state, it would be time independent.
Possibly, all I know is that when in combination with the brain, you have time dependence, as far as this idea or explanation goes.

So, the spirit is a catalyst, the only effect of which is to give us a subjective viewpoint?

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Now, when it moves from one state to another, something must govern what state its moves into.
Why? Can it be self-governed?

Even if it's self-governed, that's something determining how it moves.

When this spirit makes a choice, could it have chosen something else? If it couldn't, then it was deterministic. If it could have chosen something else, then why did it not choose those things? If there was a reason, then how was it a possibility? If there was no reason, then how was it not random?

Okay so some animals have larger and more complicated brains and some can do things that the others are not even remotely capable of. Then you apply the reflex property to humans. I do not see where this is going.

Reflex property? I don't think you get the idea of this philosophical zombie.
How do you know that everyone else in the world is not a philosophical zombie? There is no way to tell except that the philosophical zombie does not have a subjective viewpoint, and that is only a determination which can be made by the zombie, and then only if it has the subjective viewpoint; however, this cannot be communicated to us, because if it doesn't have one, it will still say it has one.

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Its reaction if you told it that it did not have a subjective experience associated with it would be very unpredictable in certain respects, but it would most certainly not agree with you.
So then you must certainly not agree as well?

I would suggest that the 'zombie' isn't missing anything. So, yes, I don't agree. That's why we're debating this.

This being a message forum, I did not know I was getting strange looks in the first place. Elvish's avatar just shows a stop sign and I cannot read kohr-ah expressions with much accuracy. Smiley

Especially when dressed up as a Kzer-Za. Wink
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Deus Siddis
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #77 on: March 15, 2007, 04:11:07 pm »

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So, the spirit is a catalyst, the only effect of which is to give us a subjective viewpoint?

I think it would be making the 'choices' and final 'decisions' (you can make decisions without a calculator, but it can still help a lot, same applies for the brain, imho) as well as being the emotions. I think this fits the 'lore' best as well.


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I do not think there is a line.

Really? You mentioned one in your last post:

"Consider the roundworm, with its tiny little brain. We understand that one pretty well. Nothing but matter is needed to cause every action in it. Scale that up, get some animal's brain. We see decisions."

Somewhere between the roundworm and the anomabeast, some creature has started making decisions. That is a line. Perhaps not the line, but a line none the less.


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When this spirit makes a choice, could it have chosen something else?

Probably.

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If it couldn't, then it was deterministic.

Well, if someone is about to do something and you say "You have to do that, it's determinism, dude," they might feel they want to prove you wrong and not do it or they might not feel like bothering and just do it anyway. Whether their verdict is absolutely predictable to anyone with absolute knowledge is unknown. It also does not seem to be completely relevant to this discussion since you can argue either one for a pure brain or a brain equipped with the latest soulware.

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If there was a reason, then how was it a possibility?

Perhaps there was a reason backing the other option and their benefits were somewhat unclear or there was no absolutely better option.

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If there was no reason, then how was it not random?

Whoever said it was not? Randomness could just be the result of a system that only has so many resources to look at all the possible angles of a situation in a given period of time. It could even have advantages in a world filled with intelligent competitors, as it makes your actions less predictable.


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There is no way to tell except that the philosophical zombie does not have a subjective viewpoint, and that is only a determination which can be made by the zombie, and then only if it has the subjective viewpoint; however, this cannot be communicated to us, because if it doesn't have one, it will still say it has one.

Then it is a lucky thing that you do not have to ask anyone else, because you are one yourself.


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Especially when dressed up as a Kzer-Za.

"How do I know you're not making faces at me under that thing?!" --Spaceballs
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Death 999
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #78 on: March 15, 2007, 07:56:41 pm »

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So, the spirit is a catalyst, the only effect of which is to give us a subjective viewpoint?

I think it would be making the 'choices' and final 'decisions' (you can make decisions without a calculator, but it can still help a lot, same applies for the brain, imho) as well as being the emotions. I think this fits the 'lore' best as well.

The problem with this analogy is that the calculator is not perfectly capable of doing the entire job on its own.

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I do not think there is a line.

Really? You mentioned one in your last post:

"Consider the roundworm, with its tiny little brain. We understand that one pretty well. Nothing but matter is needed to cause every action in it. Scale that up, get some animal's brain. We see decisions."

Somewhere between the roundworm and the anomabeast, some creature has started making decisions. That is a line. Perhaps not the line, but a line none the less.

I meant, my approach does not suffer the problem that you have some exogenous feature which needs to show up at some point. Everything is what it is, no more, no less. Some of those things constitute an implementation of thought, or emotion, etc.



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If it couldn't, then it was deterministic.
Well, if someone is about to do something and you say "You have to do that, it's determinism, dude," they might feel they want to prove you wrong and not do it or they might not feel like bothering and just do it anyway.

But by saying that you have changed the situation. It's a completely different question what the person will do in that case. It remains deterministic.

Whether their verdict is absolutely predictable to anyone with absolute knowledge is unknown. It also does not seem to be completely relevant to this discussion since you can argue either one for a pure brain or a brain equipped with the latest soulware.

If your soul is deterministic, its results can be calculated. If it can be calculated, it can be implemented in matter. If it can be implemented in matter, then the brain can do it. All of the places this path could fail are implementation details, not in-principle problems.

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If there was no reason, then how was it not random?
Whoever said it was not? Randomness could just be the result of a system that only has so many resources to look at all the possible angles of a situation in a given period of time. It could even have advantages in a world filled with intelligent competitors, as it makes your actions less predictable.

Okay, you're going with random, even though your definition of random does not fall afoul of determinism as true stochasticity would.

This spirit you have just described doesn't bring to humans anything matter can't do. Why do you want to include it?


My point with the zombie is that it's human. It doesn't have any magic bits, but it's human. It does have a viewpoint. It does have opinions, emotions, all of it.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2007, 07:58:59 pm by Death 999 » Logged
Deus Siddis
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #79 on: March 15, 2007, 11:32:56 pm »

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The problem with this analogy is that the calculator is not perfectly capable of doing the entire job on its own.

Neither can do this "entire job" I do not think.


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Okay, you're going with random, even though your definition of random does not fall afoul of determinism as true stochasticity would.

I was just giving possible examples.


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This spirit you have just described doesn't bring to humans anything matter can't do. Why do you want to include it?

This remains a contested area. The emotions we experience seem to be beyond anything our understanding of science can accurately produce or explain. We understand how they are influenced and why to some extent, but not the experiences that they produce.

And yet we know they are there, because we ALL experience them. There is no debate on this simple point amoungst non-crazy people. The only question here is where this is coming from, a computer-like arrangment of matter or something else. The best answer to this question at this point is probably just "We don't know."


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My point with the zombie is that it's human. It doesn't have any magic bits, but it's human. It does have a viewpoint. It does have opinions, emotions, all of it.

I am not talking about zombies or magic bits, I never said you needed magic bits for it to be human. Without emotions, a creature like a Human would just sit there motionless, still alive, but unmotivated to do anything. A simpler creature like a Protozoan would continue to function perfectly, it works on simple reflexes.
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Elvish Pillager
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #80 on: March 15, 2007, 11:51:56 pm »

And yet we know they are there, because we ALL experience them. There is no debate on this simple point amoungst non-crazy people.
We all experience what? It makes no sense to say anything about emotions before everyone is clear on what we mean by an "emotion".
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #81 on: March 16, 2007, 04:06:05 pm »

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We all experience what? It makes no sense to say anything about emotions before everyone is clear on what we mean by an "emotion".

The feelings you experience basically all the time, often roughly decribed with words like 'happiness', 'sadness', 'anger', 'fear', etc. If you did not experience any emotional feeling, you would not be reading this right now.
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Elvish Pillager
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #82 on: March 16, 2007, 08:08:56 pm »

Too broad. Any of those words can be used for multiple, and sometimes contradictory, meanings.
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Death 999
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #83 on: March 16, 2007, 09:20:47 pm »

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The problem with this analogy is that the calculator is not perfectly capable of doing the entire job on its own.

Neither can do this "entire job" I do not think.

WHY NOT?
The goal-oriented motions of roundworms are accounted-for, and a continuum of capabilities exists on upwards. The only large gap can be filled by mentally deficient humans; but anyway, do dogs have this soul? If so, there isn't even that gap.

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The only question here is where this is coming from, a computer-like arrangment of matter or something else. The best answer to this question at this point is probably just "We don't know."

Not a computer-like arrangement of matter. Brains are not Neumann machines. They are far far more sophisticated.
Just because the outcome can be computed doesn't mean that it's a computer. By that logic, nuclear bombs are computers.

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My point with the zombie is that it's human. It doesn't have any magic bits, but it's human. It does have a viewpoint. It does have opinions, emotions, all of it.

I am not talking about zombies or magic bits, I never said you needed magic bits for it to be human.

I didn't mean literal magic, I meant whatever it was you meant when you said 'soul' and 'not just matter'.

Without emotions, a creature like a Human would just sit there motionless, still alive, but unmotivated to do anything. A simpler creature like a Protozoan would continue to function perfectly, it works on simple reflexes.

Yes, because in order to remove the emotions of a human, you need to screw up their brain something fierce. Doesn't argue either way. Actually, it kind of argues for my side since if you were to just eliminate the emotions, under your interpretation, action would continue.
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #84 on: March 16, 2007, 10:37:28 pm »

Elvish Pillager
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Too broad. Any of those words can be used for multiple, and sometimes contradictory, meanings.

You remind me of one of my favorite Futurama quotes (and I know it takes off from the Wizard of Oz):

"Being a robot's great, but we don't have emotions, and sometimes that makes me very sad."


Death 999
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WHY NOT?

'CAUSE


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The only large gap can be filled by mentally deficient humans; but anyway, do dogs have this soul? If so, there isn't even that gap.

Well on one had they seem to express feeling, but then on the other they often eat their own dung, so I'd say it's a toss up. Wink


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I didn't mean literal magic, I meant whatever it was you meant when you said 'soul' and 'not just matter'.

. . .or whatever it was you meant when you compared emotions to an 'emergent property' or matter. Wink


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Yes, because in order to remove the emotions of a human, you need to screw up their brain something fierce.

Kids, don't try this at home.


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Doesn't argue either way. Actually, it kind of argues for my side since if you were to just eliminate the emotions, under your interpretation, action would continue.

I am not sure why the ultra vital/primitive systems would just shut off, like heart activity or basic cell function.
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Elvish Pillager
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #85 on: March 16, 2007, 11:09:52 pm »

Death 999: Why do you keep trying to argue with Deus_Siddis? He clearly isn't trying to put forth an argument of his own...
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #86 on: March 17, 2007, 02:28:30 am »

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Death 999: Why do you keep trying to argue with Deus_Siddis? He clearly isn't trying to put forth an argument of his own...

Trust me I have, but most of what I have been trying to get across, I already posted about a page ago. After that I have mostly been answering some seemingly repetitive questions, instead of 'putting forth an argument of my own' (which I thought was already done.)

Plus I am not sure what your exact requirements are for an 'argument' and whether or not you are just playing games pretending that you do not experience any emotions or motivations.

Either way, this thread was doomed to end in "We don't know" from the start. There is not yet enough information for anyone to be sure about this. I don't think there will be for a long time, if ever.
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Elvish Pillager
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #87 on: March 17, 2007, 12:03:14 pm »

Parts of your argument have been called into question, but you haven't addressed the counterarguments.
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #88 on: March 17, 2007, 05:05:29 pm »

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Death 999: Why do you keep trying to argue with Deus_Siddis? He clearly isn't trying to put forth an argument of his own...

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Parts of your argument have been called into question, but you haven't addressed the counterarguments.

Well at least now you are admitting I have made an argument at least.

As for counter-arguments, I do not know how many times I need to repeat the same answers.

And I am not going to try and convince you that you experience emotions or that we would not be typing responses if you were not motivated to do so by that experience. What you choose to believe/admit is your business, it is not within my ability or will to change this if you simply deny something is there no matter how someone trys to point it out as it sits there in front of you.

Also alot is making assumptions which are far beyond our knowledge, let alone my own. As an example, quoting Death 999:

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The goal-oriented motions of roundworms are accounted-for, and a continuum of capabilities exists on upwards. The only large gap can be filled by mentally deficient humans; but anyway, do dogs have this soul? If so, there isn't even that gap.

I do not even know that there would be a noticeable gap. And if science really did understand roundworms completely well and could recreate them from scratch if it wanted to (probably would need to possess whatever synthesis techniques were necessary as well,) then we still do not know if roundworms mentally operate anything like us. That is, because we have not experienced life as a roundworm (assuming they have anything that can be 'experienced' in the first place) and they do not communicate really anything that would give us much insight, it is very difficult to compare ourselves to them in the relevant area. Even with a somewhat rough continuum of nervous advancements that connects us and them, it is an extremely long way to go and I am not sure exactly what we would be looking for in the first place.
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #89 on: March 17, 2007, 06:36:16 pm »

As for counter-arguments, I do not know how many times I need to repeat the same answers.
You're not SUPPOSED to repeat the same answers.
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