Re: [-empyre-] free will and determinism


paper by Jaron Lanier:

A quote:

 Another way I approached the same question was to
say, if consciousness were missing from the universe,
how would things be different? A                range
of answers is possible. The first is that nothing
would be different, because consciousness wasn't there
in the first place. This would be Dan Dennett's
response (at least at that time), since he would get
rid of ontology entirely. The second answer is that
the whole universe would disappear because it needed
consciousness. That idea was characteristic of
followers of some of John Archibald Wheeler's earlier
work, who seemed to believe that consciousness plays a
role in keeping things afloat by taking the role of
the observer in certain quantum-scale interactions.
Another answer would be that the consciousness-free
universe would be similar but not identical, because
people would get a little duller. That would be the
approach of certain cognitive scientists, suggesting
that consciousness plays a specific, but limited
practical function in the brain. 

 And then there's another answer, which initially
might sound like Dennett's: that if consciousness were
not present, the trajectories of all               
particles would remain identical. Every measurement
you could make in the universe would come out
identically. However, there would                be no
"gross", or everyday objects. There would be neither
apples nor houses, nor brains to perceive them.
Neither would there be words or thoughts, though the
electrons and chemical bonds that                would
otherwise comprise them would remain the just the same
as before. There would only be the particles that make
up everyday things, in exactly the same positions they
would otherwise occupy.                In other words,
consciousness is an ontology that is overlaid on top
of these particles. If there were no consciousness the
universe would be perfectly described as being nothing
but particles.

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