Quote for the Day – Michael Graziano Thinks Puppets Can Be Conscious

“It seems crazy to insist that the puppet’s consciousness is real. And yet, I argue that it is. The puppet’s consciousness is a real informational model that is constructed inside the neural machinery of the audience members and the performer. It is assigned a spatial location inside the puppet. The impulse to dismiss the puppet’s consciousness derives, I think, from the implicit belief that real consciousness is an utterly different quantity, perhaps a ghostly substance, or an emergent state, or an oscillation, or an experience, present inside of a person’s head. Given the contrast between a real if ethereal phenomenon inside of a person’s head and a mere computed model that somebody has attributed to a puppet, then obviously the puppet isn’t really conscious. But in the present theory, all consciousness is a “mere” computed model attributed to an object. That is what consciousness is made out of. One’s brain can attribute it to oneself or to something else. Consciousness is an attribution…

“In some ways, to say, ‘this puppet is conscious’ is like saying, ‘This puppet is orange.’ We think of color as a property of an object, but technically, this is not so. Orange is not an intrinsic property of my orangutan puppet’s fabric. Some set of wavelengths reflets from the cloth, enters your eye, and is processed in your brain. Orange is a construct of the brain. The same set of wavelengths might be perceived as reddish greenish or bluish, depending on circumstances…To say the puppet is orange is shorthand for saying, ‘A brain attributed orange to it.’ Similarly, according to the present theory, to say that the puppet is conscious is to say, ‘A brain has constructed the informational model of awareness and attributed it to that tree.” To say that I myself am conscious is to say, ‘My own brain has constructed an informational model of awareness and attributed it to my body.’ These are all similar Acts. They all involve a brain attributing awareness to an object.”
~ Michael Graziano (2013), Consciousness and the Social Brain, p. 208
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Filed under Consciousness, Philosophy, Psychology

One response to “Quote for the Day – Michael Graziano Thinks Puppets Can Be Conscious

  1. Pingback: Michael Graziano: The Spirit Constructed in the Brain | SelfAwarePatterns

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