What Is it like to be a bat?

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1 month 4 days ago #115133 by Tom Otvos
I am not a philosopher. I bleed quarks, breath black holes, and generally have a hard time with "emptiness". So with those credentials, I managed to find this video (through a serendipitous route) about a famous philosophical paper entitled "What is like to be a bat?". I suspect I wouldn't get far in the paper, but this presentation is awesome.


-- tomo

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1 month 3 days ago #115138 by Tom Otvos
I mentioned the above because I seem to be going down a "consciousness" rabbit hole.

It started with Sam Harris who, as you may recall, is my top dharma influencer these days. In his app (Waking Up) there is a section on "conversations" and he had several posted with the comedian Ricky Gervais. Ricky, it turns out, is really, really smart. And, it turns out, they have a separate podcast together called "Absolutely Mental" where they have a lot of conversations about the mind, consciousness, ethics, etc. Really really good and highly recommended.

Orthogonal to this, Ricky Gervais has a brilliant show on Netflix called "After Life". It follows a guy who lost his wife to breast cancer, and how he is dealing with that. Poignant (melancholy?) and funny. Very highly recommended too.

Back to consciousness, however, Sam's wife Annaka wrote a book called "Conscious", where she explores all things consciousness in a very accessible way. And that is where I heard of this bat paper.

-- tomo

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1 month 3 days ago #115142 by Chris Marti
Tom, since you're into the consciousness hole right now I suggest you read this book, too:

Ten Zen Questions 

The author, Susan Blackmore, also has a website/blog about similar things.

Have you ever read anything by Daniel Dennett ?

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1 month 3 days ago #115144 by Philip Stone
Thanks for posting this Tom, he explains the concepts really well and I'm starting to explore some of his other talks.

Actually the original paper is pretty readable, there's a copy here  www.sas.upenn.edu/~cavitch/pdf-library/Nagel_Bat.pdf and it was reprinted in Dennett & Hofstadters The Mind's I, which is definitely worth a read anyway.

God, I used to be fascinated by this stuff, now I hardly know what consciousness is.

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1 month 3 days ago - 1 month 3 days ago #115146 by Philip Stone
Dennett's counter argument from 1991 here:
ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/dennett/papers/wha...like_to_be_a_bat.pdf

Edit: Just realised I cross-posted with Chris :-)
Last edit: 1 month 3 days ago by Philip Stone.

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1 month 2 days ago #115148 by Tom Otvos
Thanks Chris and Philip...you have given me some reading for the next little while.

Here is Conscious , by Annaka Harris. Recommended.

-- tomo

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