I watched the video before reading Noe’s explanation of his dollar bill analogy so I didn’t get a chance to question the analogy for myself before hearing the interviewer’s criticism of it not being comparable. How do others feel about the below passage? Do you think that Noe’s example is valid as a possible argument for consciousness being something behind the biological?
I have my own qualms (although, if you are going to respond, respond first before reading mine so you can stick to your initial thoughts) with the idea of consciousness depending upon one’s history and interactions. One’s past and present realities influence our consciousness but there must be something at play already for us to be able to create ideas influenced by our environment. I would like to hear what others think.
Consciousness Is Like Money
Stop and notice that you can believe in consciousness—appreciate the fact that we feel and think and that the world shows up for us—without believing that there is a place, or a moment in time, when and where consciousness happens or comes to be inside of us. As a comparison, consider that there’s nothing about this piece of paper in my hand, taken in isolation, that makes it one dollar. It would be ludicrous to search for the physical or molecular correlates of its monetary value. The monetary value, after all, is not intrinsic to the piece of paper itself, but depends on the existence of practices and conventions and institutions. The marks or francs or pesos or lire in your wallet didn’t change physically when, from one day to the next, they ceased to be legal tender. The change was as real as it gets, but it wasn’t a physical change in the money.
Maybe consciousness is like money. Here’s a possibility: my consciousness now—with all its particular quality for me now— depends not only on what is happening in my brain but also on my history and my current position in and interaction with the wider world. It is striking that the majority of scientists working on consciousness don’t even notice there is an overlooked theoretical possibility here. They tend to think that consciousness, whatever its ultimate explanation, must be something that happens somewhere and sometime in the human brain, just as digestion must take place in the stomach.