X-Message-Number: 11042
Date: Wed, 6 Jan 1999 10:21:03 EST
Subject: self circuit etc

George Smith (#11039) writes:

>I suspect that I CANNOT know whether the "view-cam" behind MY eyes "is" the 
same "view-cam" behind YOUR eyes, or anyone else's eyes for that matter 
since I strongly suspect that the experiencer is a delusion formed from 
language and recursive memory loops (what I believe Professor Ettinger 
refers to as a "self-circuit").

No, my "self circuit" is not formed from language and memory loops, and is
certainly not a delusion (although faulty inferences therefrom could of course
be delusory). The "self circuit" (or "subjective circuit") is just that aspect
of brain or its functions that permit(s)/constitute(s) subjective experience
or qualia. I conjecture that it is some kind of standing wave with feedback,
possibly localized or possibly distributed. 

I emphasize that the self circuit does not "represent" the qualia; it
CONSTITUTES the qualia. I also emphasize that the known loci of stimulation
(e.g. the famous brain nodes which, electrically stimulated, produce orgasms)
do NOT constitute any part of the self circuit, any more than does the retina;
they are still part of the periphery, feeding data into the self circuit.

In one sense, at least, the self circuit therefore IS the person, or the most
essential part of the person. This does not solve the problem of criteria of
survival, but introduces an essential element of consideration, separate e.g.
from memory.

Mr. Smith is right, of course, in noting that language problems applied to
thought processes and feelings can produce a great deal of confusion. But I do
not believe it is impossible for one person to know another person's
subjective feelings--subjectivity is not impenetrably private "by definition",
as some claim. We will eventually understand the mechanism(s) of the self
circuit, and will be able to monitor the in vivo physiology of the brain. It
will probably turn out that particular states or events in the brain
constitute the same (kind of) qualia for different people. Then one person
could understand another's fundamental feelings; and by transfer mechanisms
equivalent to telepathy, one person could even experience another's feelings.

 Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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