I will be arguing on this blog that the Hard Problem of Consciousness is an ill-posed problem. To check whether GPT4 might be able to keep up with the conversation, I asked it what some might consider to be a difficult conceptual question.
What do you think of its answers?
Not bad for blind manipulation of text?
[Human, rounding up a longer discussion]:
Okay, I want you to answer this question twice. First as a normal LLM, and then as a deeply reflective LLM. The deeply reflective LLM should consider why I might be asking the question, what implications various answers might have, and what related philosophical implications follow from the various potential answers. Please output the standard LLM answer and then the deeply reflective answer. The question is: In relation to a regular paper-and-ink drawing in a comic book: What is a thought bubble made of?
As a normal LLM:
In a comic book, a thought bubble is made of ink on paper. It is a visual representation used to convey a character’s thoughts or inner monologue to the reader.
As a deeply reflective LLM:
At first glance, the question appears to be asking about the physical composition of a thought bubble in a comic book, which would be ink on paper. However, considering the broader implications of the question, it might be interpreted as probing the nature of thoughts, representation, and communication in a more philosophical sense.
A thought bubble can be seen as a symbol or metaphor for the concept of thought. In this sense, it is made up of the ideas and intentions of the author and illustrator, who use visual elements like lines and shapes to represent a character’s internal mental state. It also relies on the reader’s ability to recognize and interpret these visual cues, which draw upon shared cultural conventions and the reader’s own experiences.
Furthermore, the question could be understood as touching upon the distinction between the physical and the abstract. While the thought bubble is physically composed of ink on paper, its meaning transcends its physical form, pointing to the immaterial nature of thoughts, ideas, and the human mind. This distinction raises questions about the nature of consciousness, the mind-body problem, and the relationship between representation and reality.
In summary, a thought bubble in a comic book is physically made of ink on paper but represents something more profound: the abstract realm of thoughts and ideas, and the way we communicate and make sense of them.
With your reflective answer in mind, what would you say a cartoonist’s thought bubble was made of, if you had to give a simple one-phrase answer?
A cartoonist’s thought bubble is made of symbolic representation.
In relation to the simplified question, “What is a cartoonist’s thought-bubble made of?”
what could be said in defence of each of these incompatible answers:
1) It is made of paper-and-ink.
2) It is made of thought.
3) It is an ill-posed question.
In defense of each answer:
“It is made of paper-and-ink”: This answer focuses on the physical medium of the thought bubble in a comic book. A cartoonist uses paper and ink to create a visual representation of a character’s thoughts. By emphasizing the material aspects, this answer highlights the tangible form through which ideas are conveyed to the reader.
“It is made of thought”: This answer shifts the focus to the immaterial aspect of the thought bubble, suggesting that it represents the character’s mental state or inner monologue. By attributing the thought bubble to “thought,” this answer emphasizes the abstract nature of ideas and the way they are symbolically conveyed in a visual medium like a comic book.
“It is an ill-posed question”: This answer suggests that the question itself may be problematic because it seems to demand a single, unified answer that captures both the physical and abstract aspects of a thought bubble. In reality, the thought bubble is a complex construct that straddles the boundary between the tangible (paper-and-ink) and the intangible (thought). The question might be considered ill-posed because it fails to acknowledge this complexity or the multidimensionality of the thought bubble as both a physical object and a symbol of mental states.