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The ant colony as a test for scientific theories of consciousness

This in Synthese freely available here. We introduce the Ant Colony Test (ACT) as a rigorous reverse test for consciousness. We show that social insect colonies, though disaggregated collectives, fulfill many of the prerequisites for conscious awareness met by humans and honey bee workers. However only a small fraction of neurons in the brain might be…

Penrose + Rogan

I highly recommend Penrose’s classic The Emperor’s New Mind and the follow-up Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness. I had the pleasure of meeting Penrose via an Imperial-based collaborator/chum of mine at an Imperial College lecture soon after the release of TENM. It’s quite extraordinary that Rogan as the proverbial geezer on…

Walker Percy Wednesday 185

What has this to do with existentialism? We will pass over the epistemological consequences of symbolic knowing, the possession of the thing by the symbol rather than adaptation by signal-a knowing which is indeed existential in the broad sense of knowing something by being something-and go at once to the more typical existentialia. The recognition…

From cybernetics to brain theory, and more: A memoir

My chum, Péter Érdi, editor of Cognitive Systems Research, has alerted me to the open access memoir (63 pages) by neuroscience grandee Michael Arbib. Giving me the opportunity to talk to these visitors was one of the ways in which McCulloch contributed more to my graduate education than any other professor at MIT. When I thanked him, he…

Walker Percy Wednesday 183

SYMBOL AND CONSCIOUSNESS The selective and intentional character of consciousness has been stressed by empiricists and phenomenologists alike. The conscious act is always intentional: One is never simply conscious, but conscious of this or that. Consciousness is, in fact, defined by the phenomenologist as noematic intentionality in general. But quite as essential to the act…