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Does Occam's Razor favor one consciousness or multiple consciousnesses?

  1. One consciousness

    2 vote(s)
  2. Many consciousnesses

    4 vote(s)
  1. Dec 14, 2007 #1
    Is is simpler for you to be the only consciousness in the universe (therefore none of the rest of us are really conscious, we just appear to be so), or is it simpler for all of us to be conscious as well?

    Also, if the universe contains only one consciousness (and I'm not saying it does), then can it be said that the universe IS conscious?
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 14, 2007 #2
    Occam's Razor is not about selecting the "simplest" explanation, but the one requiring fewest ad hoc assumptions from the facts.

    1. You are conscious.
    2. Others walk, talk and act like their conscious.
    3. fMRI scanner suggests that their brain functions like yours.

    Least assumptions is that others are conscious as well. The other explanation would require more ad hoc hypothesis such as "That they look like conscious, only they are not (explaining it away with an ad hoc hypothesis)".
  4. Dec 14, 2007 #3
    --Just playing devil's advocate, but isn't it somewhat ad hoc to assume other people are conscious in the first place. They also can be said to walk, talk and act like programmed robots, or like the images of characters on a tv show. We say they act like they are conscious, but do we really know what that even means? I agree with you, but it's still something to think about.
  5. Dec 14, 2007 #4
    All by themselves, both assumptions are equally gratuitous. But Occam's razor is about sets of assumptions, not single ones. Build a theoretical model to justify each assumption, then apply to razor by picking the simpler approach that works. The model that says "reality is how it appears" is simpler than the model that says "reality behaves how it appears but is in fact a reflection of another reality that works some other way".
  6. Dec 14, 2007 #5
    But is it really that cut and dried? What if in order for someone to see the universe as it REALLY is, you need an extremely complex system for conscious intelligence. Then you have complex universe with complex minds. If what you see is not real, then you have a complex universe with simpler minds. Perhaps what seems simpler is really not.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2007
  7. Dec 14, 2007 #6
    Both models must work equally well of course. If one model is very simple but doesn't work then Mr Occam doesn't even want to talk about it.
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