In order to make a way of seeing consciousness that would explain why it is unexplainable more comprehesable I’ll have recourse to the concept of a formal language. A formal language is a language that is made up of strings all of which are derived from axioms via rules. To bring this out I will use a simple formal language as an example. The language I will use I have borrowed from “Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid” by Douglas R. Hofstadter (which is a damn good read by the way! It doesn’t treat you like an idiot like a lot of “Popular” science/philosophy books do).
The “MIU-System” is made up of 3 letters: M, I, and U.
It has one axiom: MI
It has 4 rules (These I have quoted directly from the book):
1. If you possess a string whose last letter is I, you can add on a U at the end.
For example MI can become MIU. MIUI can become MIUIU. MIII can become MIIIU
2. Suppose you have Mx. Then you may add Mxx to your collection. For example MI can become MII. MIUI can become MIUIIUI. MIII can become MIIIIII.
3. If III occurs in one of the strings in your collection, you may make a new string with U in place of III. So MIII can become MU.
4. If UU occurs inside one of your strings, you can drop it. So MIUU can become MI.
The book offers a puzzle as a means of getting us to play with the system. The puzzle is can you make MU from MI in the system.
So an example of a try would be:
MII (via rule 2)
MIIII (via rule 2)
MUI (via rule 3 (note you could also make MIU with the same rule))
MUIU (via rule 1)
And so on….
Don’t worry this is going somewhere – it is leading to a formulation of why consciousness is inexplicable! Well I will just state why in a simple sentence now but continue to clarify over the next few blogs.
In any formal system any theorum (that is a string that is derived from an axiom (either immediately or mediately)) is explicable by referring to the strings that came before, the rules of derivation and the axioms. But the axioms, rules, and components of the strings are not explicable but have to be taken on faith… Basically given at the beginning. Now I think reality is somewhat like a formal system all be it incredibly complex. I think consciousness is a fundamental and irreducible component of that system. That it is like a component, axiom or law if you will.