Questions for GEB Unit XI

Mårten Stenius URL:

Page and figure references are from the English Penguin Books edition, unless otherwise noted.

"Ant Fugue" and "Brains and Thoughts"

Anteater (p. 312) poses a question about "the consciousness experienced by an ant colony". The ants are also discussed at p. 359. But how can we know that the ant colony is experiencing consciousness? Just from the fact that the collective behaviour of the ants shows a regular pattern in some way? Then, even traffic on a motor highway or some leaves whirling in the wind would have "consciousness"... What's the difference? How complex does the behaviour need to be to be called "conscious".

The ATTACCA quiz: Look at the initials of Achilles and TTortoise on p. 280, and the initials of Achilles and CCrab at p.311. Of course, along with the parenthesis that extends over all of Chapter X.