Science journalist and author Anil Ananthaswamy has written a thoughtful piece at New Scientist on the leading models of consciousness and their relationship to quantum mechanics (quantum physics). Are we reaching the point where we can test at least one of them? Ananthaswamy is well qualified to assess the arguments. He is the author of both Through Two Doors at Once (2018) on quantum physics and The Man Who Wasn’t There (2015) on the nature of the self. Models of consciousness that assume that “consciousness isn’t separate from the material reality that physics explains” (materialist or naturalist theories) fall into three general classes, as he explains. Analysts like Tufts philosopher Daniel Dennett and Princeton neuroscientist Michael Graziano argue that consciousness Read More ›
A Dutch computer scientist and philosopher who has reflected deeply on the mind–matter problem finds himself asking, how can serious scientists or philosophers convince themselves that their own consciousness “doesn’t exist” or is a “mistaken construct”? What, exactly, is thinking the thought that their consciousness doesn’t exist? I want to understand what makes the consciousness of an intelligent human being deny its own existence with a straight face. For I find this denial extremely puzzling for both philosophical and psychological reasons. Don’t get me wrong, the motivation behind the denial is obvious enough: it is to tackle a vexing problem by magically wishing it out of existence. As a matter of fact, the ‘whoa-factor’ of this magic gets eliminativists and Read More ›
The late philosopher Jerry Fodor (1935—2017) said that the reason “we’re all materialists” is that the alternatives seem even worse. Transhumanism, had he lived to see it develop, would give him pause for further reflection.
Rigorous naturalism, taken seriously, brought us to this place where illusion calls to illusion about things that can, by definition, have no meaning. There is no other place naturalism can bring us to.
Graziano's approach is not new. Ancient philosophers thought the mind was fire (not too long after the discovery of fire). Early modern philosophers thought the mind was a machine (just as the machine age got started). Now suddenly it's a computer…
Darwinian evolution must select physical attributes. If consciousness evolved as a mere byproduct of physical brain processes, it is powerless in itself. Thus Graziano's theories of consciousness are themselves mindless accidents.
A p-zombie (a philosopher’s thought experiment) behaves exactly like a human being but has no first-person (subjective) experience. The meat robot violates no physical principles. Yet we KNOW we are not p-zombies. Think what that means.