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Solving the Hard Problem

  1. Sep 22, 2011 #1
    I'd like the very intelligent people populating this forum to work with me on specific aspects of the problems of consciousness and life in an attempt to gain some consensus on key issues - at least in this forum. My hope is that with some better organization of thoughts and responses than has taken place in other threads that everyone here, obviously keenly interested in these issues, will be able to better arrive at their own conclusions.

    Here's what I propose: an extended thread addressing the two key problems:

    1) What is consciousness (the Hard Problem, the Mind/Body Problem, etc.)?

    2) What is life?

    Sub-questions:

    1a. What would a satisfactory solution to the Hard Problem look like? That is, what form of solution is likely to be satisfactory to most thinkers?

    1b. Is consciousness a different stuff than matter/energy?

    1c. How do we solve the combination problem?

    1d. What practical applications might flow from solving the Hard Problem?

    1e. How does solving the Hard Problem reflect on the issue of identity/selfhood?


    2a. What would a satisfactory solution to the "life problem" look like? Can any solution be non-arbitrary?

    2b. Are living things different from non-living things? If so, how?

    2c. If we are pursuing a criteria-based approach to life, how do select non-arbitrary criteria?

    2d. How are life and consciousness related? Does solving the "life problem" help solve the Hard Problem or vice versa?

    2e. What practical applications flow from solving the "life problem"?

    So I propose that we work through these sub-questions serially:

    1a. What would a satisfactory solution to the Hard Problem look like? That is, what form of solution is likely to be satisfactory to most thinkers?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2011 #2
    Ok, I'll start: I think it's clear that any satisfactory solution to the Hard Problem will take the form of symbols, specifically, words and numerical symbols. Symbols are human creations that jointly constitute a map of the world that we infer as the basis for our sensory experience. So any satisfactory solution to the Hard Problem will use symbols as stand-ins for various parts of our sensory experience that collectively constitutes "reality."

    Less generally, I think a satisfactory solution to the Hard Problem will have to explain why there is such a clear distinction between my particular point of view, here, now, and everyone else's point of view, as well as between all perceiving subjects and the multitude of objects that comprise our sensory experience. While reality is clearly an unbroken continuum of causal connections, there is this sharp break for each of us between our "Cartesian theater" (subjectivity, qualia, consciousness, etc.) and the rest of the world.

    Is this distinction merely epistemological or is it ontological? Is there really a difference between epistemology and ontology or do they overlap significantly?
     
  4. Sep 24, 2011 #3

    Evo

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