Last night, I joined the Generalists in their weekly(?) gatherings to discuss philosophy (and other interesting things). The topic was consciousness, which, as in practically every discussion of this anywhere, consisted primarily of us flailing around trying to find a good definition. Most of us are materialists, many of us with computer science experience, and so we didn't go far on flights of fancy relating to ego-driven ideas, although as there was one epiphenomenalist, there was some coverage of that model -- it was pointed out that if the flow of information to the self flows solely to an outside-the-universe being (that is, not the other way), then we as physical beings would have no way of communicating that to each other because that impression could not travel back into our speech centres. I thought it was a pretty clever argument -- wish I had thought of it. As I don't think consciousness is a useful term, I challenged the group to describe what it did, how we'd spot it, etc. We eventually ended up talking about some less fluffy terms like "sufficient depth of mind", discussed their relations to "theory of mind" and "theory of physics", and talked a bit about the shape of evolutionary pressures (language creates an internal (rather than external) selective pressure to further develop the brain) on brain evolution. The conversation wandered a lot more, and was pretty good. I wonder why I stopped going to Generalist meetings -- I think it's because the time it's held is generally a bit late for my tastes.
On another note, I'll possibly go out for midnight accordion playing in the park with another generalist member. I'm not particularly good, and given that it was his performance at CS day that gave me the drive to finally get my accordion, it's a bit intimidating, but it could still be fun. I kind of like to walk in the park while playing -- I wonder if he'll want to walk or stay still. I guess part of the point of walking -- passing the runners on the trail, won't happen so often at midnight -- there are only a few people who run there when the sun is down (I occasionally do it, but it's kind of dangerous because of the terrain).
I'm starting to put together food and other activity ideas for someone who's visiting me in about 3 weeks. I'll probably (!) rent a car for that weekend, as there's a lot to see that's a hassle to reach by bus (e.g. Northpark, possibly the Southside) and while the bus system is pretty good here, if someone's visiting just for one weekend, it's better to spend less time with the uninteresting kind of travel.
Bits of interest:
- Interesting story.., but in the United States and most other western countries, sanctuary is not recognised as binding, to my understanding. Regardless of the other aspects of the situation, I'm surprised the police haven't gone in and retrieved the person they want yet.
- Bush states that invading Iraq had nothing to do with September 11th, and that it did not have "weapons of mass destruction" (whatever that means). This is pretty major backpedaling...
- Counterscript to waste telemarketer time. I almost, *almost* regret that I don't get telemarketing calls on my cell phone.
- I had an unexpected (human) houseguest last night (a friend of a friend didn't plan a trip very well). It reminded me how unfortunate the layout of my apartment is at times.
- Campus is coming back to life.