Monday, April 24, 2006

1.3 My approach is a pragmatic, empirical one (2)

How can consciousness be approached in a scientific manner?

Here Koch tells us that he is going to focus on the study of vision as a more experiment-friendly way of approaching consciousness. He says:

"Underlining my choice is the tentative assumption that all the different aspects of consciousness (smell, pain, vision, self-consciousness, the feeling of willing an action, of being angry and so on) employ one or perhaps a few common mechanisms."

I am not sure how I feel about this assumption. It made me think about the kind of explanation that would satisfy people like me. A mechanistic explanation about how we make a desicion based on reward, expectations, sensations would be fine for me. We could perfectly well build a robot that made desicions based on these factors. And I would be willing to admit that however it 'feels like' to make a desicion, this feeling is shared by the robot. But on the other hand, sensory feelings seem to be a different story. With a robot that senses light is not as simple to admit that it has the same feeling as I do when I sense light.
So to assume that vision and the feel of willing action share common mechanisms might be to go a little bit too far.


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