Re: virus: Angelica de Meme

Tony Hindle (
Thu, 10 Apr 1997 14:16:27 +0100

In message <>, Robin Faichney <> writes
>orry, but that's not what *I* meant. Scientists certainly know what
>"conscious" means in the same sense that we all do. But science
>doesn't know what "conscious" means, in the sense that there is no
>scientific account of consciousness. I'd say, in addition, that there
>cannot ever be such an account,
Once upon a time I would have agreed with you. However I think
Dennet thinks more clearly about the "mystery" of consciousness than
either of us, From Darwin's Dangerous Idea p382:
"According to Chomsky all matters of human puzzlement can be
sorted into "problems" which can be solved and "mysteries" which
cannot... The problem of consciousness according to Fodor is one such
mystery ... Chomsky and Fodor have both (correctly) hailed the capacity
of the human brain to "parse" and hence presumably understand, the
official infinity of grammatical sentences of a natural language such as
English. If we can understand all the sentences (in principle), couldn't
we understand the ordered sets of sentences that best express the
solutions to the problems of free will and consciousness? After all,
one of the volumes in the Library of Babel is - must be - the best
statement in fewer than 500 pages of short grammatical English sentences
of the solution to the problem of consciousness."
> because in order to be scientific
>it would have to be objective, while consciousness is intrinsically
Dennet later notes that the same argument against the intrinsic
mysteriousness of consciousness can be made by appealing only to the
intrinsic I-language of inner thought. Finally he asks
"Can Chomsky (or anyone else) give a good reason for believing
that any 500 page book of short sentences meeting the I-language
standards of any normal, literate individual would be incomprehensible
("in principle") to that person?

I highly recomend this masterpiece of lucid writing.

Tony Hindle.
Give me cranes not skyhooks, every time.