Monday, February 25, 2008

Works Cited

To analyze consciousness in terms of some functional notion is either to change the subject or to define away the problem. One might as well define "world peace" as "a ham sandwich." Achieving world peace becomes much easier, but it is a hollow achievement.

David J. Chalmers, The Conscious Mind


Jay Goodman Tamboli said...

That's aimed at me, right?

Scott said...

No. Jacob's the one I fight with about consciousness. Rather, you're the one I go to to fight about religion.

But it's not aimed at either one of you, because neither one of you care about the issue, whereas I, ya know, do.

I'm trying to remember if that quote applies to any part of our discussion in the Billy Goat, but nothing comes to mind.

I do, however, oftentimes define you as a ham sandiwch when trying to analyze you. Maybe that's what you're talking about.

Jay Goodman Tamboli said...

I base my whole abortion argument on humanity, for which I take consciousness as the determinative factor. I use self-awareness as a proxy for consciousness, and then I use mirror-recognition as an indicator of self-awareness. Wow, that sounds really convoluted now that I write it out.

Scott said...

That seems rather simple to me--maybe a side effect from reading philosophy books.

At any rate, you're totally innocent of the charge in the above quote. You're not defining consciousness as "self-awareness" nor comitting the even graver sin of defining consciousness as the ability to provide some sort of third-person-accessible information (which is Dennett's tactic, and, probably, Chalmers's target here). You're simply presuming a correlation, one that seems sensible.

To be sure, I'm not sure how good that correlation is, and we may disagree on its strength, but I have no problem with the strategy in theory.