Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

We cannot upload ourselves to virtual reality…

arroba Email

Image result … because we aren’t really anyone anyway, says neuroscientist.

From Cody Delistraty, interviewing neurocientist Thomas Metzinger (Being No One, 2003) at Nautilus:

We know there is a robust experience of self-consciousness; I don’t doubt this. The question is how could something like that emerge in evolution in an information-processing system like the human brain? Can we at all conceive of that being possible? Many philosophers would have said no, that’s something irreducibly subjective. In Being No One I tried to show how the sense of self, the robust experience of being someone, could emerge in a natural way in the course of many millions of years of evolution.

The question was how to arrive at a novel theory of self-consciousness, what a first-person perspective is, that, on the one hand, takes the self really seriously as a target phenomenon and, on the other hand, is empirically grounded. If we open skulls and brains we don’t find any entity that could be the self. It seems there are no arguments that there should be a thing like a substance, a self, either in this world or outside of this world.

Animals self-deceive, and they motivate by self-deceiving. They have optimism bias; just like human beings, different cognitive biases emerge. So we have to efficiently self-deceive. The self becomes a platform for cultural forms of symbolic immortality, the different ways human beings tackle the fear of death. The most primitive and simple, down-to-the-ground way is they become religious, a Catholic Christian, for instance, and say, “It is just not true, I believe in something else,” and form a community and socially reinforce self-deception. That gives you comfort; it makes you healthier; it is good at fighting against other groups of disbelievers. But as we see in the long run, it creates horrible military catastrophes, for instance. There are higher levels, like, for instance, trying to write a book that will survive you.

Maybe we could create very different forms of selfhood and offer them for augmentation, but for a number of reasons I think that the whole idea of actually “jumping” out of the biological brain and into virtual reality completely has probably insurmountable technical problems. It also has a philosophical problem because the deeper question is, of course, what would jump over into the avatars if there is no self? More.

Funny how overdosing on “evolution” leads so many people to deny the self or deny that we can perceive reality. This won’t end well.

See also: Psychology Today: Latest new theory of consciousness So consciousness is irreducibly complex but we can’t admit that? How does calling it “phi” help?

Follow UD News at Twitter!

Being No One — Thomas Metzinger - - - 1.1 Consciousness, the Phenomenal Self, and the First-Person Perspective. - - - This is a book about consciousness, the phenomenal self, and the first-person perspective. Its main thesis is that no such things as selves exist in the world:
So, there is no such thing as a writer. Or a reader.
Nobody ever was or had a self.
How do "you" know?
All that ever existed were conscious self-models that could not be recognized as models.
Could not be recognized as models by WHAT?
The phenomenal self is not a thing, but a process—and the subjective experience of being someone emerges if a conscious information-processing system operates under a transparent self-model.
Sure. And this is all produced by blind fermions and bosons which don't have "conscious information-processing systems" and "transparent self-models" in mind. By sheer dumb luck. Makes sense.
You are such a system right now, as you read these sentences.
Because you cannot recognize your self-model as a model, it is transparent: you look right through it. You don’t see it. But you see with it.
So "I" cannot recognize "my" self-model as a model, because it is transparant, but "I" see with it? Who is this "I" in this "analysis"?
In other, more metaphorical, words, the central claim of this book is that as you read these lines you constantly confuse yourself with the content of the self-model currently activated by your brain.
So consciousness is based on confusion? But you still feel competent to make claims about reality? "I" find that amusing.
This is not your fault.
No, it's the fermions and bosons. Oh wait, "I" am fermions and bosons
Evolution has made you this way.
Ah! Now I get it.... Origenes
JDH correctly points out how Metzinger — somehow — "stepped out of that self deception long enough to craft this theory of self". Ridiculous indeed. Some further notes: You might want to go easy on the schizo talk, Thomas, it doesn’t make any sense to talk about dying and say “my self-model tells me it is going to happen”. According to your position, the “self-model” is you. Similarly, it doesn’t make sense to say stuff like: “We have this brand new cognitive self-model” . According to you, there is no “we” that is distinct from the “self-model”.
“We know there is a robust experience of self-consciousness; I don’t doubt this.”
First of all, only you can know that you are self-aware. You don’t know that about other people and other people don’t know that about you. So, there is no “we” who knows — despite your certainty. Second, it’s no surprise that you don’t doubt that you are self-conscious, because in order to doubt that you are self-conscious, you have to be self-conscious. It’s part of ‘cogito ergo sum’; you may want to look that up. No one can coherently deny his own existence, yet that’s exactly what you did when you wrote your book “Being No One”. Something is terribly wrong with you Thomas. There is emptiness where there should be none. Origenes
JDH @ 3: It is madness. Some people are functional alcoholics or drug addicts. This newest generation of atheists are functional lunatics. They can drive cars, go to college, hold a job, buy groceries, etc., but their strident atheism has driven to the very edge of insanity. They claim that there are no objective truths, while at the same time writing books and preaching to large audiences (of other functional lunatics) about how THEIR ideas ARE true. And that is just one example of many exposing the incoherent madness that underlies the way they think. Truth Will Set You Free
I love the arrogance of the writer who claims that everyone else self deceives, but he somehow stepped out of that self deception long enough to craft this theory of self. This is always the weakness of these types of arguments. The author somehow forgets that when he says all people do "x" - by simple induction, the author must also do "x". Tim Keller wrote a book about this("The Reason for God") how many of the materialist arguments for God have this fatal flaw in that they consider everyone else in the human race subject to some limitation with the sole exception of the author of the anti-God argument, and the people who believe it. JDH
Sheer atheistic lunacy. Of course, the ironic hypocrisy is absolutely lost on this credentialed fool. Love the commentary: "Funny how overdosing on “evolution” leads so many people to deny the self or deny that we can perceive reality. This won’t end well." True indeed. Truth Will Set You Free
as to: "If we open skulls and brains we don’t find any entity that could be the self. It seems there are no arguments that there should be a thing like a substance, a self, either in this world or outside of this world." That quote reminds of the propaganda surrounding the Russian Astronaut Yuri Gagarin, “I went up to space, but I didn’t encounter God.”
Yuri Gagarin, first human in space, was a devout Christian, says his close friend Excerpt: The first man in outer space 50 years ago believed fervently in the Almighty — even though the atheistic Soviet government put famous words in his mouth that he had looked around at the cosmos and did not see God. Mankind’s first space flight lasted 108 minutes on April 12, 1961. It was the height of the Cold War. Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was proclaimed by the Soviet leadership to have announced, “I went up to space, but I didn’t encounter God.” However, he never uttered those often-quoted words, says a close friend.,,, In fact, Gagarin should be remembered for completely different words, says his friend: ” I always remember that Yuri Gagarin said: “An astronaut cannot be suspended in space and not have God in his mind and his heart.” http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/on_the_front_lines_of_the_culture_wars/2011/04/yuri-gagarin-first-human-in-space-was-a-devout-christian-says-his-close-friend.html
Of related, humorous, note:
Photo – an atheist opening up his skull to contemplate his 'mind' http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-H-kjiGN_9Fw/URkPboX5l2I/AAAAAAAAATw/yN18NZgMJ-4/s1600/rob4.jpg

Leave a Reply