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 Mind of God

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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Mind of God   Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:47 pm

GOD IN A VAT

What would it be like to be God? In my current myopic view of the postulated deity of Deism, an eternal Creator separated from He/r creation would be like the old philosophical/sci-fi concept of a brain in a vat. Floating free in an undifferentiated environment of nutrients to keep it alive, an unplugged brain would be able to do all the normal functions except the most important ones for a person: feelings. With no inputs from the outside world, or from the inner body, it could only think, not feel. No desires, no needs, no pleasure, no pain---just abstract thoughts. With no outputs to connect with something other than self, it would be eternally and infinitely alone, but not lonely. It would have none of the attributes of a person, except consciousness. But consciousness of what?

If, for the sake of argument, that dis-embodied mind could imagine a dreamworld of thinking-feeling creatures in a fantastic landscape, it could have a multitude of avatar bodies and a panoply of virtual feelings. That scenario might be similar to the Matrix movies, where the dream-world seemed, to the dreaming brain, to be the real-world. The philosopher Thomas Nagel* asked the rhetorical question, "what is it like to be a bat?" HIs answer was that we can never know, except by way of analogy and metaphor. Likewise, my own subjective metaphors of a deity may not be objectively real, but in the absence of a direct, two-way hook-up, it may be as close as I can get to knowing the mind of God.

Picture a huge glass vessel with a monster brain floating in a clear liquid. From your position outside the vat, you can only wonder, what is it thinking? But the inert-looking brain is looking back at you with your own eyes, and those of your fellows. It is also reading your mind, and your feelings, by tapping-in to the universal Information Field that permeates all space, and all things, and all minds. Do you get the creepy feeling that you are being watched---from within---by your own super-superego? Perhaps it's best for your own sanity not to think of it that way. So try this question instead : what is it like to be a bat in vat? Exclamation Question Arrow




* Wiki: << Nagel is probably most widely known within the field of philosophy of mind as an advocate of the idea that consciousness and subjective experience cannot, at least with the contemporary understanding of physicalism, be reduced to brain activity. This position was primarily discussed by Nagel in one of his most famous articles: "What is it Like to Be a Bat?" (1974). The article's title question, though often attributed to Nagel, was originally posed by Timothy L.S. Sprigge. The article was originally published in 1974 in The Philosophical Review. However, the essay has been reprinted in several books that are concerned with consciousness and the mind, such as The Mind's I (edited by Daniel Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter), Readings in the Philosophy of Psychology (edited by Ned Block), Nagel's Mortal Questions (1979), and Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings (edited by David J. Chalmers).

In "What is it Like to Be a Bat?", Nagel argues that consciousness has essential to it a subjective character, a what it is like aspect. He states that "an organism has conscious mental states if and only if there is something that it is to be that organism—something it is like for the organism."[6] Nagel also suggests that the subjective aspect of the mind may not ever be sufficiently accounted for by the objective methods of reductionistic science. He claims that "[i]f we acknowledge that a physical theory of mind must account for the subjective character of experience, we must admit that no presently available conception gives us a clue how this could be done."[7] Furthermore, he states that "it seems unlikely that any physical theory of mind can be contemplated until more thought has been given to the general problem of subjective and objective."[8]

While Nagel is sometimes categorized as a dualist for these sorts of remarks, he is more precisely categorized as an anti-reductionist. Nagel (1998) writes:
“ ...I believe that there is a necessary connection in both directions between the physical and the mental, but that it cannot be discovered a priori. Opinion is strongly divided on the credibility of some kind of functionalist reductionism, and I won't go through my reasons for being on the antireductionist side of that debate. Despite significant attempts by a number of philosophers to describe the functional manifestations of conscious mental states, I continue to believe that no purely functionalist characterization of a system entails—simply in virtue of our mental concepts—that the system is conscious. >>
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PostSubject: Re: Mind of God   Mon Nov 17, 2008 10:23 am

Shocked


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