How do 100 trillion little automata create consciousness?

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All I am is a bunch of microscopic, unconscious, organic robots, each going about their business, working together and apart to all stay alive, but somehow those legions of what are not much more than bacteria produce consciousness: self-awareness of an individual being. Where the hell did that come from? Please explain.
z etc., I think you are wrong. The existence of consciousness, imho, proves free will exists. Consciousness is clearly not entirely physical: i.e., not bound by causality. Your friend touching his nose was a sociological incident, not a absolutely determined one.

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Consciousness does not exist. All it is , is a set of reactions to our senses. Ever listen to a good song and realize that you are tapping to the beat with your foot? Who made this decision? Obviously not ‘you’ since you just realized it. I could write hundreds of pages on this subject, and how ‘you’ do not exist either. ‘You’ are a result of past experiences, and ‘you’ are not the same person you were 1 second ago.
Also, every thing you do , EVERY decision you make, will be 100% influenced by past / present experiences, you THINK you have free will, but you do not, EVERYTHING that you do is a response to your senses stimulating your brain.
I told my friend free will doesn’t exist, what he did was touch his nose and said “See? Free will does exist, I just touched my nose for no reason at all”
To which I replied “Would you of done the same thing if I hadn’t said free will does not exist?”

Irv S

We’re still trying to figure that one out.
Cosciousness hasn’t even been adequately defined yet, let alone
how to create one out of the ‘switches’ that are our nerve cells.
Even the Turing test is just an ‘I know it when I see it’ sort of operation.
A good answer to either question will get you a Nobel Prize as well
as create significant moral problems for our society.

James Attfield

Philosophers of Mind and Cognitive Scientists have been struggling with this topic for the past 50 or so years; and many thinkers before confronted it in various ways as well (see Descartes). As a subject area, this is one of the newest and fastest growing areas of research and publication, and it’s all very fascinating.
You’ve hit the nail on the head… for how is it that a bunch of purely physical things (atoms, bacteria, whatever you want to call them) can come together and create consciousness? Unfortunately, we don’t really have a robust conception of the mind or consciousness yet; or at least not one which most can agree on.
My advice is to either take a class in Philosophy of Mind/Psychology, or Cognitive Science at your local University or College (or online); or buy a couple introductory books on the topic to get acquainted with it.
You won’t find the answer here, that’s for sure.

Jason Wesley

My only advice is the answer isn’t worth it. Questions like this will drive you insane. I thought about this for a long time and I’m not entirely sure if I’m even alive, or just existing…

: )

The “emergent property” of a system would lead to complex behaviors by allowing both interaction and combination of the simple ones to take place. In a way it is not so much of creating consciousness, but merely leaving the system alone to optimize and to fulfill all the finite potentials.


This can be explained by looking at emergence in complex systems. For example, the ‘wetness’ of water is not an individual property of hydrogen or oxygen; it is an emergent state that supervenes on a dynamic set of lower-level elements.
Consciousness differs from other complex systems in the sense that, as John Searle is fond of saying, it has a first-person subjective ontology. It only seems like a problem because we are trying to explain consciousness from a third-person ontology. Consciousness is not an object in the same way as other material things. It intersects with the material plane, but it adds it’s own subjective dimension to reality.
You can go ahead and give a more nuanced and scientific account. But that’s the core philosophical reasoning from my perspective, and I think it’s pretty close to the consensus view in the philosophy of mind.


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