Is it possible for the constituent parts of a conscious being to be conscious themselves? Can I infer from the fact that I am conscious that the cells which make up my body are not conscious?

My little toe is conscious, and it is a part of me, perhaps even a "constituent" part. I put in the scare quotes because I am wondering whether "constituent" means "essential"; if it does my big toe is not a constituent part of me. But if "A is a constituent of B" means "A is part of B", then my big toe is a constituent part of me, but the phrase "constituent part" is a tautology - it says that same thing twice. Are there parts of me which are not constituent parts, but some other kind? You can imagine after surgery a doctor asking, "Is your little toe conscious?", and the answer might be "Yes", and working through to the big toe; the answer then might be, "No". It is not at all obvious why we should feel the Cartesian tug to say that it is I, not my big toe, that is conscious, except for dubious epistemological reasons such as that we can imagine the consciousness without the toe. The same seems to be true of my psychological parts in Descartes' sense in the Meditations . My thinking might...

There are some strong arguments that if a computer appears to possess intelligence similar to a human's, that we must assume it too has self-awareness. Additionally, one could make a strong case that lesser animals have self-awareness, because they have the same type of brain as humans (just in a less sophisticated form.) My question is this: if we assume that a) computers of seemingly human intelligence are self-aware, and b) that animals of lesser brains are self-aware, must we logically conclude that computers of lesser "intelligence" are also self-aware? In other words, are all computers self aware? Is my toaster self-aware?

Why should the possession of intelligence (whatever we mean by this, but say it means winning chess games against the world chess champion, winning bridge games with bad partners against the world bridge champions, issuing correct diagnoses for car repairs, predicting stock market fluctuations, analyzing individual psychology, and so on) require consciousness? We know that when Kasparov played Deep Blue he "sensed" a "weird" and "alien" kind of consciousness - or said and thought he did. I have the same thing with my very complicated telephone handset - it is against me, spitefully, deliberately and consciously. If we allow that playing chess well involves intelligence, then Deep Blue or Deep Fritz or Shredder show the following thing: intelligence does not require consciousness. If we deny consciousness to the systems, then your question does not arise at all, because (a) is false. (I have used "consciousness", but "self-awareness" implies much more, including I think the critique of elements of...

If we move through time, then what is movement? That is to say how is movement, or any change for that matter, possible outside of the context of time?

The idea that we move through time is at best odd, but at worst very confused - no offense at all intended to the author of this fine question, though, as this species of confusion is the motor of philosophy and it is the job of philosophy to describe it and then put it right, among other jobs. The picture is of time around us - and what does this mean? - and us trundling along through it. If indeed this is our conception, the idea of movement has come off its bearings and becomes what lawyers and students call "wordage", as in "we need some wordage to cover this point here". Equally bad, as I see it, is the idea that time moves through us or past us or whatever. You might wonder where it is going, but this question has its own kind of nonsense too. The difficulties here are all due to the A-series conception of time. I agree that the idea of change outside of time is a very interesting one, but I don't see the connection with your first question clearly. What does the question whether we move through...

Most people believe that a belief is true if it corresponds to a fact. But facts and ideas are very different things. They exist in completely separate realms. How can they "correspond" to each other?

You write that facts and ideas are very different things. (You also contrast beliefs and facts to make the same point, so perhaps you believe that beliefs are ideas.) From this you infer a difficulty about the possibility of ideas and facts corresponding to one another. 'Facts and ideas are very different things', you write, so 'how can they "correspond" to each other?' Consider, though. Written notes on a stave are very different from the sounds that we hear, but why should that stop them "corresponding" to sounds? Aunts and nephews are very different kinds of beings, but that need not stop them corresponding. You put "correspond" in scare quotes, and here you seem to me to be on the right track. We need to know what correspondence is. What is say a 1:1 correspondence?

I am a very skilled amateur magician. As such I believe I hold a slightly better understanding about perception, deception, belief, conviction, and the human thought process than the average man on the street. One aspect about humanity that continually amazes me is the sheer predictability of actions and the dearth of variation when it comes to responding to a given situation. Case in point: In the middle of presenting a card trick where a chosen playing card continually goes to MY pocket under increasingly strenuous conditions I make the off-handed comment "One time I did this trick and I applied a little too much pressure and the card invisibly shot out and ended up in some other guy's pocket...". 9 times out of 10 after I am done with the initial sequences the spectator I am engaging will challenge me to make the card go to HIS pocket. Needless to say I have already secreted the card to his pocket using technical machinations much, much earlier. To the spectator the challenge was a random one; to me it...

The fact that our actions are predictable as such or by itself hasno tendency to imply that they are unfree or that they are determinedor not freely chosen. I can predict that I will continue to work on myhouse yet again today, but that is because I very much enjoy it, andthe action's predictibility does not somehow frustrate its freeness.Many people are predictably kind, say, but that does not mean thattheir kind actions are not less free and praiseworthy. There may ofcourse be others who are naturally kind, but even they, it seems to me,can well be thought of as free and as deserving praise for their moralquality. It is not the absolute predictability of the motions of theplanets which makes us suspect that they are not free agents, but thefact that we know that they are great balls of rock or magma orsomething. (The philosophical discussion of "compatibilism" over the last hundred years is very helpful here.) Ithink of culture as a very natural but very human attemptto find or create something...
War

Many Americans maintain that, while they oppose the Iraq War, they nonetheless "support" the troops wholeheartedly. But is this distinction a mere fantasy? The US has an entirely volunteer army, so why isn't a citizen who joins the military just as guilty for atrocities committed abroad as army or government officials?

Is it possible to oppose the War and yet supportthe troops?If I support the war, that means I believe the ends are justified andgood, themeans are appropriate, and so on. So I believe in the mission, as youmight say. Whatdoes it mean to "support the troops"? It might mean that I writecomforting "lettersfrom home" to people in the services, that I have positive feelingstowards thesoldiers, that I applaud their representatives on the 4th of July, andso on and on. Thesetwo activities are very clearly different and perfectly distinct, asthe support has two different objects, and there is plainly no fantasyhere. The more seriousquestion is whether it is morally permissible to engagein the second activity (supporting the troops) without the first(support for the war), or if we think the war is positively wrong. To put anextreme case: could (a moral "could" here) goodGermanshave supported the Wehrmacht, the regular army, even though they didnotsupport Hitler and the War and its stated aims? And would it...

I believe that there are only 3 possible options. 1) That God or some all powerful being created the universe. This is a very bizarre state because it means we are all subordinates to an independent being that has always existed. Strange. 2) The universe was created out of nothing. Truly weird. 3) That the universe has always existed. This is simply incomprehensible. Because these are the only 3 options I see and because each is mind-bogglingly discouraging or incomprehensible - or downright goofy - I think this whole existence thing is either some sort of hallucination or a complete joke. (Another possibility is that I am in some sort of hell.) Therefore, I take nothing seriously and treat this whole thing sort of the way you deal with the pain of stubbing your toe. Kind of grit your teeth and wait for the pain to end. Any thoughts?

The three options you offer for the origin of the universeare: 1) That God created the universe. This, you say, is “bizarre”, becausethen in some sense we would be “subordinate” beings. (Why should that be bizarre?) 2) The universe wascreated out of nothing. This, you say, is “truly weird”. And 3) The universehas always existed, which is “incomprehensible”. I do notsee how you can get to the conclusion that the universe is a joke, orthat you should take nothing seriously.The conclusion I can see coming from your premises is that things are bizarre,or that truly weird things happen, or at least that one of them has, or thatthe universe is incomprehensible; and you might be very serious about playingchess, say, or helping others by nursing, in an otherwise bizarre or weird orincomprehensible universe. Religious people would agree, I think, with thefirst option, that the existence of the universe is bizarre, and want only toadd that our theology and metaphysics should reflect the fact! Nothing...

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