Here’s another possible step to understanding consciousness. Are we just a collection of responses to situations and stimuli? As a parent, I’ve seen it over and over again. My kid(s) will look to me to help them understand what they are experiencing and mirror my response, but what happens as consciousness becomes more complex?
For that matter, anyone creating artificial intelligence should be deeply involved in neurological studies of child development.
I think I understand where you come from Ray, but we need to start somewhere. The Universe is a huge diverse place that might escape our insufficient language and absolute definition, but we start understanding the universe by trying to define what makes up a planet, star, the different effects of forces, etc. Using language to help determine a basic understanding, we can build from there, create new terms and hypothesis and build upon layer until we reach more and more clarity. Our view of the Universe changes exponentially. Over time with quantum mechanics coming into play, theory of relativity, spacetime, etc. we’ve had to redefine our understanding almost on a ground level. Like astronomers before us using primitive technology, we have to start somewhere, even if it will completely change as further discoveries are made.
True, I tend to make similar arguments often, I just don’t think in this case it is a matter of finding new information but considering information we already have.
I’d say the most common definition of consciousness is being awake, while unconsciousness is when we are asleep, a lot of animals sleep so by this definition they are conscious beings. If you want to define it by an understanding of complex concepts, which is what it takes to form consistent definitions, I’d say that would make it a synonym with sentience.
But then we can ask what defines awake and asleep, generally it is active and inactive, but we say that about volcanoes so are volcanoes conscious? Look at a rock, it is inactive, but when you go to the atomic level there is plenty of activity, so you could say anything comprised of matter and energy is conscious, empty space would be about the only think that is unconscious, but then we cannot say that for certain either, space is certainly a factor in everything, counted within the sum of parts, we get to a point where we would have to define consciousness in the absolute sense, the entire universe is.
The problem with this theory, as fully developed in the Phenomenology of Perception, is that stimuli already need to be recognised as having meaning to us. Situations only make sense because we are embodied, and live in a world in which things already make sense to us. So it can not be a collection of mere stimuli, because there is always already more before that.