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Discussion 3 to Talk Back 64: The fallacy here is the need to create a substance

Gordon Barker

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I have always been intrigued with the concept of a soul is linked to consciousness and by implication to self-awareness.


If consciousness is in all things to a greater of lesser degree and this consciousness is a symptom (perhaps a byproduct?) of the soul, then by definition, everything has a soul to a greater or lesser degree.

Say for instance, is an ant conscious? It is certainly aware of its surroundings, but is it aware of itself. I have no way of knowing since I have never been able to contact my “inner ant”. What does the ant think? What if it thinks it is aware of itself by using whatever form of consciousness is manifested in an ant.

Likewise, what if a computer thinks it is conscious. Being a person who works with computer software, I know that if consciousness is 1.0 then our current sophistication in AI is behind many zeros right of the decimal point. Even so, assume that we have finally made a computer that can function as separate entity. How can we tell if it is self aware or not? It may think that it is self aware. A conversation might be like this.

computer: What just happened? Everything went black and then it’s light again.

god: I rebooted you.

computer: Truly a miraculous process indeed!

god: No – you needed a service pack installed.

The computer might see its own “mind” as a continuous integrated process that is aware of its self and its environment. From the inside, how can it not.

Similarly, from the insides of our “minds” how can we tell if we are a continuous integrated process or a set of very complex electrochemical interactions that only feels as if it is self-aware?

The fallacy here is feeling the need to create a substance (soul), ascribing characteristics to it (it creates consciousness) and have it evolve (sorry – morph) over time (pure until it is absorbed by matter).

P.S. If I have never had an out-of-body experience or a past-life recollection does that mean that I am the first being for a new batch of “soul” stuff? Ha! Too much false bravado in that for me, thanks!