Friday, 13 April 2018

Conation

Daven Laure reflects that alien and cybernetic brains can think, are aware and have conation. (p. 714) (For full reference, see here.)

I studied philosophy, which included philosophy of mind, but not psychology. I have also been misled by the similarity between the words "conation" and "cognition" and therefore thought that "conation" meant "knowing." The Wiki article (see the above link) differentiates three parts of the mind:

cognitive, intelligence;
affective, emotions;
conative, volitions -

- but I have also heard "affective" called "volitions" and "emotions" called "emotions" so there is no consistent terminology.

Before studying philosophy, I was taught that the (immaterial) soul comprises intellect and will. These would correspond to intelligence and volitions.

I now think that, both as a species and as individuals, we were active organisms long before we became reflective subjects. Life, when analyzed, already contains both the consequences of past actions and a tendency to continue acting in the same way even though this has been problematic. Indian philosophy rightly emphasizes "karma," action, and analyzes consciousness into subtler categories than "intellect" and "will."

8 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

But I simply don't believe in any kind of materialism. Mr. Wright's lengthy arguments against materialism continues to convince me.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
I argue that consciousness is not reducible to mechanics. It emerges from organism-environment interactions just as a new color emerges from mixing two other colors. Quantitative changes become qualitative.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I'm sorry, but Mr. Wright's arguments on that very point convinced me that kind of materialism is also mistaken.

Sean

S.M. Stirling said...

I incline to Penrose's "quantum mind" hypothesis, which boils down to mind being something in direct contact with the quantum-mechanical underpinnings of reality. It's not, in some respects, governed by the Newtonian (or even Einsteinian) physics of the macrocosmic world.

There's been some experimental results favoring Penrose's hypothesis lately.

If it's true, conventional computers can never be conscious, though you can design software to mimic some features of it.

Paul Shackley said...

Mr Stirling,
I reckon conventional computers can never be conscious because they merely do the equivalent of moving a tape with holes punched in it past a camera. The numbers of holes punched on each line on the tape are interpreted as data, e.g., about the ethnic groups in the British population, but consciousness of the data, and indeed of anything else, is in the brains of the people using the computer. However, a different kind of artifact might duplicate what the brain does, e.g., by directly contacting quantum reality. So conscious conventional computers no; conscious artifacts maybe.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

I've actually heard of Penrose and I have one of his books. And his "quantum mind" hypothesis is one I've not heard of but seems very interesting.

Sean

S.M. Stirling said...

Paul: yes, I'd agree with that. The brain does give rise to the mind, and the brain is a physical object, so it has to be theoretically possible to duplicate its function... just not with digital machinery of the type we use now.

Paul Shackley said...

Some people want to build quantum computers.