Note to Self

The world, including our environments and our bodies, is cleaved by our senses into discrete perceptual categories. How we sense is determined by our genetics and our experiences, shaped by cultural, personal, and evolutionary history. In this way, we make the world and ourselves by perceiving it. Outside our senses is the undifferentiated universe. Our senses make it knowable, and limit how we can know it.

Let us consider these limits. Take Thomas Nagel, for example.
It will not help to try to imagine that one has webbing on one's arms, which enables one to fly around at dusk and dawn catching insects in one's mouth; that one has very poor vision, and perceives the surrounding world by a system of reflect high-frequency sound signals; and that one spends the day hanging upside down by one's feet in an attic. In so far as I can imagine this (which is not very far), it tells me only what it would like for me to behave as a bat behaves. But this is not the question. I want to know what it is like for a bat to be a bat.

Nagel's question -- what is like to be a bat? -- is often repeated in scientific articles on the nature of consciousness. What is not stressed, however, is the closeness between this question and another one perhaps more relevant to the quality of our lives: what is like to you? Your early development is guided by the genes we share and the variations within your body, and as your brain grows it is changed by your experiences, giving rise to a morphology unique to you and you alone. If I try to imagine what it is like to be you, I may very well get farther than Nagel when imagining hanging upside and emitting high-frequency sound. But returning to Nagel:
... I am restricted to the resources of my own mind, and those resources are inadequate to the task. I cannot perform it either by imagining additions to my present experience, or by imaging segments gradually subtracted from it, or by imagining some combination of additions, subtractions, and modifications.

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