Intelligent Design

Quote of the Day

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Thank you News for directing us to this interview of Giulio Tononi (see video embedded at bottom of post).  Dr. Tononi has doctorates in both psychiatry and neurobiology and holds the David P. White Chair in Sleep Medicine, as well as a Distinguished Chair in Consciousness Science, at the University of Wisconsin.  He explains that the so-called hard problem of consciousness is not really hard at all.  From a bottom up physicalist perspective, it is down right impossible:

It is important to study the brain, but you will never squeeze the essence of consciousness out of gray matter.  You can squeeze it as a sponge as much as you want.  You will never get experience flowing out of it, because suddenly there is some special property of – that neurons firing at 40 hertz or whatever else that might be – that suddenly generates experience.  And this is why philosophers have rightly pointed out for a long time that, you know, this is a very hard problem.  In fact, it is so hard that I grant you it is impossible to solve that way.  You cannot solve the problem of consciousness by looking at the brain, taking it in your hands, and asking yourself how could this piece of gray matter give rise to the fantasmagorie and the colors and the beauty and the shape of experience.  You will not squeeze out of that.

Starting at 9:10 and ending at  9:58

 

7 Replies to “Quote of the Day

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    I think we can all agree it’s a really hard problem. Beyond that, we just don’t know.

  2. 2
    Origenes says:

    Barry Arrington: … the so-called hard problem of consciousness is not really hard at all. From a bottom up physicalist perspective, it is down right impossible.

    Seversky: I think we can all agree it’s a really hard problem.

    Uh .. no Seversky, we do not all agree that it’s a really hard problem.

  3. 3
    Barry Arrington says:

    Seversky,

    I understand how your faith commitments require you not to believe Dr. Tononi when he say a bottom up solution is not, in principle, possible. But, no, we cannot all agree that it is merely a hard problem.

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    It’s a really easy problem?

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev,

    “It’s a really easy problem?”

    I understand how your faith commitments would cause you to pretend you didn’t understand what I meant.

    Here’s the irony: Atheists like Sev often define blind faith as believing in something with no evidence. And they make fun of religious people whom they say have blind faith.

    Now, here is Sev, who believes fervently in something for which there is absolutely no evidence, i.e., that mind can be reduced to brain. Not only is there no evidence, experts like Tononi assure him that it is impossible for mind to be reduced to gray stuff in a bottom up reductionist way.

    Yet he believes away with a dogged determination that would make a snake-handling fundy blush.

    Funny stuff that.

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    Here’s an example of a hard problem:

    How is a stork able to carry a baby and know precisely where to deliver it?

  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:

    Mung,

    Exactly. It is at least imaginable that a large enough stork could carry a small enough baby to a specified place. But still it would be a very hard problem.

    As opposed to an impossible problem, like a bag of chemicals having subjective self-awareness.

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