Thomas Nagel famously defined consciousness in terms of there being ‘something it is like to be’ an organism:
fundamentally an organism has conscious mental states if and only if there is something that it is like to be that organism — something it is like for the organismT. Nagel, ‘What is it like to be a bat’, 1974, p. 436
Many people find this definition intuitively compelling, myself included. (I have a vague memory of having come up with a similar formulation myself before I read Nagel, though I may be confabulating.) But is the appeal of this definition limited to English speakers? Does the ‘something it is like to be’ formulation retain its appeal when translated into other languages?
If you have native language competency in another language, I’d like to ask your help, please. I have two questions:
1. How is the quotation above usually translated into your language? (Or how do you think it should be translated?) If there are various possible translations, which do you think is best?
2. When translated in the best way, does the passage still strike you as a compelling way of defining consciousness? (Compelling in its own right, that is, not just because it translates a definition that is compelling in English.)
If you’d like to help, please post for your answers in the comments below. Also, if you know any existing scholarly work on this topic, please post a reference to it. Many thanks!