Friday, November 16, 2007

Bees and Perspectives

BDK: Afterthought: it would be great for antinaturalists to answer Bennett's question. In general, your answer to this question starkly reveals your philosophical stripes. This is all about propositional thought and the like, truth, reference and all that.

As for what you'd have to add to make bees conscious, or whether bees are already conscious, I have no strong opinion. I think Dretske believes they are conscious. I am agnostic. Do qualia precede propositional contents in evolution? I tend to think so, but am not sure: even leeches might feel little flashes of pains and excitements.

VR: I think what is needed is the perspective of an agent who sees certain things as the case, and who is introspectively aware of what it means when it says something.

Example: I enter a conversation and misuse a word consistently. The community of language speakers makes a word mean one thing, but I meant something else, and in spite of the sniggers that I got from everyone, I think to myself "But I was using it to mean that." I can recognize two words that sound the same but mean different things, and I can identify two words that mean that same but sound different.

Add to this the perception of necessary relationships that obtain amongst proposition. We have to be people who exist at particular places and times who know that some things exist regardless of place or time. And I see difficulty with that so long as what gives us pieces of information are temporally locatable physical brains and causal connection from those brains to particular states of affairs in the world.

Now, could we solve these problems naturalistically if we could just solve the hard problem of consciousness naturalistically? My answer is that raw feels by themselves aren't going to solve it; we're going to need a connection between consciousness and the mental states involved in rationality.

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