That’s one problem with the Turing Test, I think: we’re biased towards finding minds and finding patterns in disorder (pareidolia). That was a likely cause of the animistic origin of religious thinking: we project mental properties onto nature, as Daniel Dennett said, because we have an overactive social instinct and intentional stance, as he called it.

But we also know consciousness (like ours) when we see it because we’re so familiar with ourselves through introspection and by observing how our mind impacts our behaviour. It’s like seeing drawings of hands: we’re so familiar with what a human hand looks like, that we’re sensitive to the slightest error in a hand’s representation.

If degrees or modes of consciousness don’t correspond to complexity in brain structures, we’re completely in the dark about the natural basis of consciousness—or at least I am. The Copernican revolution against anthropocentrism seems to me extended the less we find self-awareness or personhood elsewhere in the world, since in that case our kind is more of a lonely, insignificant accident. Panpsychism may imply, on the contrary, that consciousness is ontologically fundamental rather than a fluke with a tragic destiny.

Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store