This little book explores the projective nature of consciousness by using various rides at Disneyland to explain how awareness works as a virtual simulator. See the following excerpt for a glimpse:
Although it was initially billed as a scary ride, the Haunted Mansion turned out to be quite tame. However, there was one segment in the ride where a friend of mine got the creeps, since he assumed that the head (sans a body) within the crystal ball was a real person. He hadn't realized how far holographic technology had come at that point and couldn't imagine that it was merely a vaporous projection. I bring up these three examples because they underline something fundamental in our assessment of the consciousness of others. We can be easily duped.
Not only can we impute conscious intentionality onto machine operated mannequins that lack it, we can even do it photographic film. Yet phenomenologically speaking, our own experience at the time of interacting with an audio-animatronics seems essentially the same as when we talk to certain humanoids. In other words, that which we believe is conscious turns out on closer inspection to be unconscious, at least in the commonsense ways that we use such terms in our day to day lives.
But we don't need to go Disneyland to discover this, since we already have firsthand experience of innumerable conflations when we fall asleep and dream. In a strong dream, so many characters come alive and we interact as if each of them is real. Only when we wake up do we acknowledge that everything that occurred in the dream was simulated by us. We are, in sum, dreaming ourselves in various guises, even if we may be deceptively tricked to believe otherwise. Such is the confusing nature of our own self-awareness that we even objectify our own personas in various garbs and believe them to be ontologically apart from our own neural projections.
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Philosophy and Consciousness and some Physics
- Dennis Bloom