Dennett reprises his long-held counter-intuitive idea that consciousness is a ‘user illusion’ similar to the interface of an app, through which people interact with the program without understanding how it works. Memetic apps in our brains, Dennett argues, create a ‘user interface’ that “renders the memes ‘visible’ to the ‘self’”, authoring “both words and deeds”.
Critics often quip that Dennett doesn’t explain consciousness so much as explain it away, or duck the challenge entirely, and this chapter is unlikely to bring them around. When it comes to plugging the hole of subjective experience, sceptics are likely to see his solution as barely touching the sides. Dennett might well reply that a lack of imagination prevents them from seeing how his theory supports a version of consciousness devoid of over-inflation. For the philosophical background to these hard-to-swallow ideas, see Dennett’s Consciousness Explained (Little, Brown, 1991). More.
Hard to swallow? It’s just plain ridiculous, and so are the people who continue to attend to this rubbish.
What can it mean for one consciousness (a user illusion) to say to other consciousnesses (user illusions) that they “lack imagination”? This goes on year after year and no one is allowed to question it, only to develop new casuistries whose the key achievement is grantsmanship. If that’s all they want, sure… But where is the public value?
Added: A relevant question is: Why is Dennett’ stuff in Nature? Why is it supposed to be science?
See also: Split brain does not lead to split consciousness
Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?
Follow UD News at Twitter!