I am pleased to see you struggling with the so called “hard” problem of consciousness Martin. I am in agreement with the bulk of your argument. I would simply add into the “what you are not column” the seemingly obvious point (to me at least) that you are most definitely not your brain. Contrary to what many contemporary cognitive neuroscienctists might try to tell you. Don’t be fooled by fancy sounding brain imaging technologies like PET or fMRI among many others. “Studies” that purport to “localize” specific states of consciousness to the brain are patently bogus. In addition to a myriad of other shortcomings I wont delve into here these studies almost always fall prey to the mereological fallacy. Put simply this logical failing attempts to assign states of being, of conciousness itself, to a part of a person or thing rather than to its whole. A brain does not feel pain, or think, or marvel at a beautiful object. Rather it is the person that does these things. Of course a mostly functioning brain is required to experience any of the things I just described. That said a brain, removed from a body, is capable of none of them. These days it seems you can’t go a day without encountering some news story or journal article or article in the mass media that breathlessly reports how some or other state of conciousness has been “identified” in a part of the brain using modern brain imaging techniques. The neuroscienctific and neurophilosophical literature is buried in junk at present. Ignore it. You are no more your brain than your left arm is you. The only difference between your left arm and your brain is that a functional left arm is not required to experience conciousness. A left arm is not needed for me to write this but a mostly functioning brain is. That said neither a brain alone or a left arm alone could type these words, make these arguments, think these thoughts. A brain in a vat is only that. A brain. Not you. It is logically impossible that it could be you.

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Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/mol biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

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