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The deplorable word has been spoken: Consciousness cannot have evolved

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Computer engineer and philosopher Bernardo Kastrup, who has been published in Scientific American, thinks it can’t. As noted at Mind Matters News, for one thing, it cannot be understood in the quantitative terms essential to materialism and theories of evolution deal in material things

However, our phenomenal consciousness is eminently qualitative, not quantitative. There is something it feels like to see the colour red, which is not captured by merely noting the frequency of red light. If we were to tell Helen Keller that red is an oscillation of approximately 4.3*1014 cycles per second, she would still not know what it feels like to see red. Analogously, what it feels like to listen to a Vivaldi sonata cannot be conveyed to a person born deaf, even if we show to the person the sonata’s complete power spectrum. Experiences are felt qualities—which philosophers and neuroscientists call ‘qualia’—not fully describable by abstract quantities.

Bernardo Kastrup: Consciousness cannot have evolved” at Mind Matters News

Wow. This will be interesting to watch. Remember when AI pioneer David Gelernter bid Darwin goodbye? So far as we know, nothing bad happened to Gelernter. If nothing awful happens to Kastrup, we might have more reasonable discussions in the future of what consciousness even is.

Note: Hat tip to the reader who recognizes the literary reference in the title.


Further reading on disputes about consciousness:

Why would philosophers deny that consciousness is real? Because, says computer scientist Bernardo Kastrup, the materialism they are committed to makes no sense and that’s the best they can do

Panpsychism: You are conscious but so is your coffee mug Materialists have a solution to the problem of consciousness, and it may startle you

and

Why some scientists believe the universe is conscious

5 Replies to “The deplorable word has been spoken: Consciousness cannot have evolved

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    This really isn’t a good argument against evolution. It’s fairly easy to see how an experience, a broad radiation from the input sense into the full nervous system, could assist survival.

    Skip Vivaldi and think instead of the thrills and chills you get when standing on the edge of a roof, or the adrenaline flush when imagining a car crash. Without those full-system experiences, we’d be more likely to get into deadly situations.

  2. 2
    Latemarch says:

    Yeah, I get a real flight or fight adrenaline rush every time I watch a sunset. One of the more important survival responses.

  3. 3
    Truthfreedom says:

    @ Latemarch:
    Oh. You surely do not ‘understand evolution’ 🙂
    Enter just-so story:
    Today: ‘sunsets’.
    Appreciating sunsets is a ‘weather forecast mechanism’. But today our story-teller is in a good mood, so maybe that ‘conclusion’ is a ‘stretch’. He starts to ‘think’ and then he suddenly has another ‘idea’:

    *We have evolved an aesthetic sense as part of the wider analytical faculties of our brain. Far from being skin deep, ‘beauty’ is a shorthand way of measuring the fundamental ‘rightness’ of a thing. Instead of evaluating all these different attributes independently, they all get rolled into a single measure: beauty*.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.sciencefocus.com/science/what-evolutionary-advantage-is-there-in-finding-a-sunset-beautiful/amp/
    Of course it is easy when you do not have to show any proof?

  4. 4
    pw says:

    “ The human brain is a complex, nonlinear system that defies all reductionistic and deterministic attempts to understand it (Singer, 2007).”
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2246621/

  5. 5
    mike1962 says:

    If we were to tell Helen Keller that red is an oscillation of approximately 4.3*1014 cycles per second, she would still not know what it feels like to see red

    Right. Plus I experience red in my dreams. Which has nothing do to with electromagnetic reception in the retina.

    How do you map an algorithm to subjective qualia? Hint: you can’t.

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