Consciousness Intelligent Design Mind

At Evolution News: Is Consciousness a “Controlled Brain Hallucination”?

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Michael Egnor writes:

Philosopher David Chalmers famously divided the problem of understanding how consciousness is related to the brain by distinguishing between the easy and hard problems of consciousness.

The easy problem of consciousness is typically faced by working neuroscientists — i.e., what parts of the brain are metabolically active when we’re awake? What kinds of neurons are involved in memory? These problems are “easy” only in the sense that they are tractable. The neuroscience necessary to answer them is challenging but, with enough skill and perseverance, it can be done.

The hard problem of consciousness is another matter entirely. It is this: How can first-person subjective experience arise from brain matter? How do we get an “I” from an “it”? Compared with the easy problem, the hard problem is, from the perspective of materialist neuroscience, intractable.

Evading the Hard Problem

Many neuroscientists evade the hard problem by denying its relevance to neuroscience.

Let’s just stop here and consider the scientific approach of “solving” a hard problem by denying its relevance. This wouldn’t even fly with more objective problems in science, such as, “How does a nascent solar system shed its excess angular momentum as it continues to form?” But to take the most fundamental aspect of our existence as humans – our consciousness – and to dismiss it as an irrelevant phenomenon is to put on blinders that perpetuate ignorance, in the guise of science.

See complete article at Evolution News.

6 Replies to “At Evolution News: Is Consciousness a “Controlled Brain Hallucination”?

  1. 1
    chuckdarwin says:

    Anil Seth, the neuroscientist reviewed by Egnor doesn’t say the hard problem is irrelevant (that is Egnor’s word). Egnor accuses neuroscientists of

    evad[ing] the hard problem by denying its relevance to neuroscience. In a recent essay, leading neuroscientist Anil Seth, co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex in Brighton, eschews the easy/hard problem distinction. (emphasis added)

    What Seth actually writes is that “solution” to the hard problem is not necessary to advance basic research in the area of consciousness:

    [The] key is to recognise that explaining why consciousness exists at all is not necessary in order to make progress in revealing its material basis – to start building explanatory bridges from the subjective and phenomenal to the objective and measurable…

    Neither does Seth say that the hard question of consciousness is “intractable.” Again, that is Egnor’s comment. Hard? –yes. Intractable? — not likely.

    Behavioral psychology progressed remarkably well in its early days without understanding the internal process of cognition mediating response-reinforcement behavior and reinforcement paradigms. Led by Skinner, this black box research was highly productive and ultimately led to models of cognition that correlated well with overt behavior, not to mention reams of data on how to shape behavior. What’s that adage about learning how to walk before…..

    IDers don’t have the patience or focus to do the tough work. They just throw their arms up and claim “God did it! That’s good enough for me.”

    Nobody is “evading” or “eschewing” anything. They are just learning how to walk…….

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    “Our experiences of being and having a body are ‘controlled hallucinations’ of a very distinctive kind.”
    But, as neurosurgeon Michael Egnor says, “if your hypothesis is that the mind is an illusion, then you don’t have a hypothesis.”

    “The principal argument against materialism is not that illustrated in the last two sections: that it is incompatible with quantum theory. The principal argument is that thought processes and consciousness are the primary concepts, that our knowledge of the external world is the content of our consciousness and that the consciousness, therefore, cannot be denied. On the contrary, logically, the external world could be denied—though it is not very practical to do so. In the words of Niels Bohr, “The word consciousness, applied to ourselves as well as to others, is indispensable when dealing with the human situation.” In view of all this, one may well wonder how materialism, the doctrine that “life could be explained by sophisticated combinations of physical and chemical laws,” could so long be accepted by the majority of scientists.”
    – Eugene Wigner, Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, pp 167-177.

  3. 3
    relatd says:

    CD at 1,

    From your copy of How to Cast Asperians on IDers?

    ‘IDers don’t have the patience or focus to do the tough work. They just throw their arms up and claim “God did it! That’s good enough for me.”

    What a silly, silly caricature. But it also reveals your greatest fear. The Designer is God.

  4. 4
    Paxx says:

    Hallucination of what?

    They never get that far.

  5. 5
    AaronS1978 says:

    Seth adheres to a version of GWP and very much disregards the HPC as a problem or relevant. Its effectively a waste of time and solving the small problems might lead to a possible solution


    “IDers don’t have the patience or focus to do the tough work. They just throw their arms up and claim “God did it! That’s good enough for me.”


    “Atheists don’t have the patience or focus to do the tough work. They just throw their arms up and claim “evolution did it! That’s good enough for me.” Example “the appendix”

  6. 6
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    In partial fairness to Anil Seth, David Chalmers defines the hard problem of consciousness as something that no empirical science could possibly address. His whole point is that the conceivability of zombies shows that qualia cannot be explained in terms of structures and functions. But structures and functions are all that any science can describe and explain. His argument is supposed to show that there are truths about the mind that are forever beyond all possible scientific reach. I’m sure that Seth has read Chalmers and knows what his view is. So it’s hard to fault scientists for ignoring the hard problem of consciousness when the hard problem of consciousness is something that no science could possibly solve.

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