Sentience

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Sentience

Postby Viscid » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:59 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:The thing is, you could build a robotic ant which responds to stimuli in exactly the same way as a biological ant so that a casual observer would not know the difference.


How do we know that our fellow humans are not in fact zombies responding to external stimuli in a way which makes us only believe they're sentient, when in fact they may very well not be? Isn't the idea that anything aside from us is sentient or conscious simply an act of faith?

There is no satisfying answer to what is truly conscious or sentient, because we don't know what role consciousness plays. What does the property of being conscious do? Is a thermometer conscious? Do different beings have different 'magnitudes' of consciousness?

The only thing we are certain of is that we are conscious; that we experience, think and percieve. Any speculation as to what other than yourself is conscious is based on one's own belief and intuitions.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Sentience

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 10, 2010 12:56 am

Greetings Viscid and welcome to Dhamma Wheel
Viscid wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote:The thing is, you could build a robotic ant which responds to stimuli in exactly the same way as a biological ant so that a casual observer would not know the difference.


How do we know that our fellow humans are not in fact zombies responding to external stimuli in a way which makes us only believe they're sentient, when in fact they may very well not be? Isn't the idea that anything aside from us is sentient or conscious simply an act of faith?

I think you might have been reading a bit too much of Philip K Dick's Do androids dream of electric sheep?

Viscid wrote:There is no satisfying answer to what is truly conscious or sentient, because we don't know what role consciousness plays. What does the property of being conscious do? Is a thermometer conscious? Do different beings have different 'magnitudes' of consciousness?

The only thing we are certain of is that we are conscious; that we experience, think and percieve. Any speculation as to what other than yourself is conscious is based on one's own belief and intuitions.

I think you should read some Thomas Metzinger, a neuroscience researcher and philosopher who has done some exciting research in the field of consciousness.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Sentience

Postby Viscid » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:12 am

Thanks for the recommendation, Ben. I always have lots of books "I need to read."

Given that you have read Metzinger, is there any particular immediately-googlable theory of his which would (really no pun intended) englighten me?
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Sentience

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:41 am

Hi Viscid

I bought "The Ego Tunnel" last year after hearing him on radio regarding his theory of self.
It was a worthwhile investment.
If you search for him on Youtube, you should be able to locate a number of videos of his interviews/talks.
Kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
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Re: Sentience

Postby Viscid » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:45 am

Ben wrote:Hi Viscid

I bought "The Ego Tunnel" last year after hearing him on radio regarding his theory of self.
It was a worthwhile investment.
If you search for him on Youtube, you should be able to locate a number of videos of his interviews/talks.
Kind regards

Ben


Watching his lectures now. He used to eat lunch with Ramachandran, so now I HAVE to read him.
Thanks again!
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Sentience

Postby Annapurna » Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:32 am

PeterB wrote:He clearly had all sorts of insights that are quite surprising Anna, but in his instructions he was always practical as well as emphasising the ethical view.


I agree, although I haven't read as much as you yet.

I think that sometimes the search for details is at the expense of (seeing) the whole picture....
what would you say?
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Re: Sentience

Postby Sanghamitta » Sat Jul 10, 2010 8:47 am

Ben wrote:Greetings Viscid and welcome to Dhamma Wheel
Viscid wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote:The thing is, you could build a robotic ant which responds to stimuli in exactly the same way as a biological ant so that a casual observer would not know the difference.


How do we know that our fellow humans are not in fact zombies responding to external stimuli in a way which makes us only believe they're sentient, when in fact they may very well not be? Isn't the idea that anything aside from us is sentient or conscious simply an act of faith?

I think you might have been reading a bit too much of Philip K Dick's Do androids dream of electric sheep?

Viscid wrote:There is no satisfying answer to what is truly conscious or sentient, because we don't know what role consciousness plays. What does the property of being conscious do? Is a thermometer conscious? Do different beings have different 'magnitudes' of consciousness?

The only thing we are certain of is that we are conscious; that we experience, think and percieve. Any speculation as to what other than yourself is conscious is based on one's own belief and intuitions.

I think you should read some Thomas Metzinger, a neuroscience researcher and philosopher who has done some exciting research in the field of consciousness.
kind regards

Ben

Sanghamitta is being misquoted....I think you will find that it was Riverbend that said that,,,not me :smile:
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Re: Sentience

Postby kc2dpt » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:53 pm

Annapurna wrote:I think that sometimes the search for details is at the expense of (seeing) the whole picture....
what would you say?

I would say some people's search for details comes at the expense of seeing the whole picture
and
some people's avoidance of details comes at the expense of properly understanding the whole picture.
:reading:
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: Sentience

Postby Annapurna » Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:29 pm

Also true. ;)
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Re: Sentience

Postby chownah » Mon Jul 12, 2010 2:28 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:What am I a Buddhist maven already ?

No, why do you ask?
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