X-Message-Number: 21685
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 22:16:21 EDT
Subject: symbols in the brain

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Thomas Donaldson writes in part:

> The point of what I was saying is not that we CAN work with symbols, but
> that we are not required to do so. 

My point was that we ARE required to work with symbols in the brain. The 
representations within our brains of the environment and of memories and 
future possibilities etc. are just that--representations, symbols, presumably 
mostly electrical and chemical changes involving neurons. 

But if representations reach consciousness, they are no longer merely 
symbols. The main difference between people and automatons (such as 
computers) is not that computers work only with symbols, but that they almost 
certainly lack feeling, the capacity for subjective experience. Feeling is 
NOT symbolic; a quale is not just a symbol or representation of an 
experience, but the actual experience itself.

Robert Ettinger


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