Aren’t we basically doing the same thing with consciousness? We speculate that consciousness means ‘A, B, C’ but that is entirely predicated on how we perceive consciousness. Then we further postulate what else might have consciousness and what can not. Where else can we find consciousness — dogs, flowers, machines, chairs? I suspect there might be a lot going on with octopuses.
I really like your post, by the way. We have fun in some of the same playgrounds. I was a hard materialist for many years. I’ve softened a bit. I studied Dennet at uni and he was kind enough to take questions from our philosophy of mind class via email. I read that book cover to cover.
Chalmer’s hard problem is the really hard problem. If we can get the why then I think the what would follow but I don’t think the inverse. I recently listened to him on Sean Carroll’s Mindscape podcast. I need to listen to it again because I was on a long walk through the city and not actively listening but I left it thinking he was walking back a bit from some of his previous assertions. I’d venture it will be a long time before we have answers if ever. I’ve begun to think it is something we might better address with meditation or psychotropic experiences.
I’ve also been entertaining that it could be everywhere in everything. It is a fundamental bottom, as you said in your reply, and it’s pervasive. Can it be harnessed? Imbued? I think we agree it can be approximated but what does that mean? And if we can approximate it and the approximation believes it has consciousness then who are we to say it doesn’t? We begin tapdancing around Dennet’s Cartesian theater.
I’m curious to see what you write on simulations.