From physicist Rob Sheldon, our physics colour commentator, on what’s wrong with the latest new theory of consciousness. That’s the one by Anil Seth that walloped through here quite recently, namely,
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”
The key point in this article is in this sentence:
But there is an alternative, which I like to call the real problem: how to account for the various properties of consciousness in terms of biological mechanisms; without pretending it doesn’t exist (easy problem) and without worrying too much about explaining its existence in the first place (hard problem).
Restating it, they want to use materialistic biological metrics to describe consciousness without philosophical definitions.
You know, stick a rock in a maze and count how long it takes to solve it. Stick a mouse in a maze, and count the seconds to solve it. Describe the difference as “consciousness metric”. Now replace the maze with a mirror, and see if the rock knows smacks into the mirror or avoids it. Do the same for a mouse. Measure the change in acceleration (force divided by time), and call that a “mirror metric”. Etc.
You will quickly find that all that such “pragmatic” approaches really do is convert explicit definitions into implicit ones that are harder to root out.
If such pragmatic or common sense approaches worked, we would be breeding talking mice or at least programming artificially intelligent computers by now.
Or maybe even conscious rocks?
See also: Psychology Today: Latest new theory of consciousness A different one from the above.
What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness
Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?
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