From philosopher Bernardo Kastrup at Scientific American:
An article on the neuroscience of infant consciousness, which attracted some interest a few years ago, asked: “When does your baby become conscious?” The premise, of course, was that babies aren’t born conscious but, instead, develop consciousness at some point. (According to the article, it is about five months of age). Yet, it is hard to think that there is nothing it feels like to be a newborn.
The question seems to turn on the ability to recognize and represent one’s own consciousness to onself or others.
By mistaking meta-consciousness for consciousness, we create two significant problems: First, we fail to distinguish between conscious processes that lack re-representation and truly unconscious processes. After all, both are equally unreportable to self and others. This misleads us to conclude there is a mental unconscious when, in reality, there may always be something it feels like to have each and every mental process in our psyche. Second, we fail to see our partial and tentative explanations for the alleged rise of consciousness may concern merely the rise of metacognition.
This is liable to create the illusion we are making progress toward solving the “hard problem of consciousness” when, in fact, we are bypassing it altogether: Mechanisms of metacognition are entirely unrelated to the problem of how the qualities of experience could arise from physical arrangements.More.
Nice to see someone thinking through the problem and not just proposing yet another gimcrack fix (see many entries below). This question, consciousness vs. the ability to recognize and report it, is relevant to animal consciousness as well. See Animal minds: In search of the minimal self.
Note: Light news posting till later today due to O’Leary for News’s alternate day job.
See also: Large numbers of atheists doubt that evolution explains human consciousness
Roger Penrose: Somehow, our consciousness is the reason the universe is here.
One can’t help wondering if this is suckerbait. Challenged, will Penrose retreat back to the safe little warren of nonsense theories about consciousness? A few are offered below, just to get you started, but we don’t especially recommend it. On the other hand, just for fun, start with, Claim: Science is afraid of animal consciousness. Why? Won’t crackpot theories work as well as they do for human consciousness? What’s different?
Aired on BBC: Consciousness no different than our ability to digest
Thomas Nagel: Daniel Dennett “maintaining a thesis at all costs” in Bacteria to Bach and Back
Physicist: Regrettably, materialism can’t explain mind
Split brain does NOT lead to split consciousness? What? After all the naturalist pop psych lectures we paid good money for at the U? Well, suckers r’ us.
Does the ability to “split” our brains help us understand consciousness? (Apparently not.)
What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness
Or else: Consciousness as a state of matter
Researcher: Never mind the “hard problem of consciousness”: The real one is… “Our experiences of being and having a body are ‘controlled hallucinations’ of a very distinctive kind”
Searle on Consciousness “Emerging” from a Computer: “Miracles are always possible.”
Psychology Today: Latest new theory of consciousness A different one from the above.
Evolution bred a sense of reality out of us
Claim: Science is afraid of animal consciousness. Why? Won’t crackpot theories work as well as they do for human consciousness?
So then: Question: Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?
Neuroscience tried wholly embracing naturalism, but then the brain got away