Malcolm wrote: ↑Fri Jun 25, 2021 2:21 pm
Queequeg wrote: ↑Fri Jun 25, 2021 2:04 pm
Malcolm wrote: ↑Tue Jun 22, 2021 1:17 am
Unlikely. Machines are machines.
Four types of birth - womb, egg, moisture, spontaneous
If an entity is aware, why wouldn't it be considered sentient? The manner of its genesis would seem to be a secondary characteristic, with awareness being primary.
Correct, there is no fifth birth, manufactured.
Are Venus Fly Traps aware? Plants in genera? Does reaction to external stimuli constitute awareness?
How does a consciousness seeking rebirth appropriate brain tissue in a vat?
If you are suggesting that a machine could suddenly become conscious, how is this different than the materialist claim that consciousness is merely an epiphenomenon of having a brain?
I'll work backwards on your questions.
Asking how this is different than a materialist claim is premature.
We need to define some terms here - by machine, are we talking about engineered, lab created biological "beings" (I'll put that in quotation marks for now because we're not sure if they are beings (sattva)), or are we talking about some sort of electronic computer made with silicon circuits and chips and processors, maybe with robotic means of action? Either way, if such a thing was conscious (difficult to answer as that would go to the heart of the Hard Question), at the least, we'd have some re-evaluation to do - along the lines of Jambudvipa v. the reality of Earth evaluation.
One option would be to admit defeat to the materialists. Then we'd all be materialists. Another might involve asking and investigating a variation involving your second question... how does a consciousness seeking rebirth end up in a robot? I don't particularly see why rebirth as a robot is not possible. Seems any such a priori conclusion that it is not possible would be error. At this point, no reason to think it is possible, but seems premature to say never. Further, I don't think it would have much consequence on how I conduct myself even if it were found to be possible meaning its a low stakes consideration that is perfectly acceptable as a hanging question.
Regarding your second question, I'd suggest a consciousness seeking rebirth that appropriates brain tissue in a vat had the causes and conditions to end up there. (reminder, the question is not whether consciousness can arise in such a manufactured condition; for purposes here I am assuming that we've overcome the various aspects of the Hard Question and can in fact establish consciousness outside of our own). The same answer would apply to a being appearing as a robot.
Your first question - what do I mean by awareness - By "awareness" I'm taking that phenomenon we are working toward realizing in contemplative practice - Buddhanature, Tathagatagarbha, Amala Vijnana, Sunyata, etc.
With all of its pitfalls of doing so, I am assuming it as an irreducible dharma for the purposes of this discussion. Its there or it is not.
Do plants have awareness in the sense of having the capacity to wake? The sutras say no. If, however, we were to overcome the Hard Problem and establish that plants do have awareness and are as such capable of awakening...
I guess we have to come back to that question that always lurks - when confronted with evidence that the teachings handed down are inaccurate, should we dogmatically hold onto the legacy or do we have to do the hard lifting and reevaluate?
In the bigger picture, I'd suggest embracing that tension is where the Buddhist movement finds its real vitality.