Intelligent Design Mind Naturalism

You are conscious? But so what? Maybe your coffee mug is too

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A survey of materialist (naturalist) theories of consciousness would require you to keep an open mind on the topic. At Mind Matters,

In an academic article,  Kastrup identified the available materialist options, as he sees them. Picture, if you will, you, an amoeba, and a coffee mug. How much does each of you participate in consciousness?

a) physicalism (everything is a physical reality)

you 0  amoeba 0  coffee mug 0

On this view, consciousness is an evolved illusion.

b) bottom-up pan-psychism

you 1  amoeba 1  coffee mug 0

Coffee mug clip art Free vector for free download (about 13 files).You and the amoeba both evolved consciousness as you evolved life but the coffee cup (and, we presume, its associated electrons) did not.

Amoeba proteus 2.jpg
amoeba

c) cosmopanpsychism

you + amoeba + coffee mug = 1

You, the amoeba, and the mug are one indivisible consciousness.

d) dissociated alters (multiple personality disorder)

you 1  amoeba 1  coffee mug 0

This d) view, which Kastrup favors, sees you and the amoeba as dissociated selves of the universe as a whole. The universe is thus seen as a victim of multiple personality disorder. But Kastrup’s view allows for a fundamental difference between the living and the non-living. Only the living are seen as personalities. Sorry, mug, you are not a dissociated self, a subject of experience, after all.  More.

But never mind. In some materialist systems, the mug wins.

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See also: Does your brain construct your conscious reality? Part I  A reply to computational neuroscientist Anil Seth’s recent TED talk (Michael Egnor)

Does your brain construct your conscious reality? Part II In a word, no. Your brain doesn’t “think”; YOU think, using your brain (Michael Egnor)

A short argument against the materialist account of the mind (Jay Richards)

and

What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness

7 Replies to “You are conscious? But so what? Maybe your coffee mug is too

  1. 1
    jawa says:

    Nonsense

  2. 2
    john_a_designer says:

    The paradox of consciousness is that I know for a fact that I am conscious but I don’t know exactly what consciousness is or how it is created.

  3. 3
    Ed George says:

    JAD

    The paradox of consciousness is that I know for a fact that I am conscious but I don’t know exactly what consciousness is or how it is created.

    But isn’t that true of many phenomenon? I know for a fact that gravity exists, and can even calculate orbital mechanics based on it (not me personally), but I don’t know exactly how it works or was created.

    I think that we have to distinguish between unexplained and unexplainable. We know with certainty that there are numerous examples of the former. But we can’t know with certainty that there are any examples of the latter.

    And with respect to consciousness, you claim that you know for a fact that you are conscious. But if your consciousness is an illusion, as some say it is, would you not still think that your consciousness is a fact? Just playing devils advocate.

  4. 4
    Heartlander says:

    Simply enough, you cannot suffer the illusion that you are conscious because illusions are possible only for conscious minds. This is so incandescently obvious that it is almost embarrassing to have to state it.
    David Bentley Hart

  5. 5
    john_a_designer says:

    Ed George @ 3,

    “But isn’t that true of many phenomenon?”

    I didn’t say it wasn’t but we’re discussing consciousness not gravity or anything else.

    if your consciousness is an illusion, as some say it is, would you not still think that your consciousness is a fact?

    We could be conscious of an illusion or we might be even fooled by an illusion but it just does not follow that consciousness is an illusion. But I suppose that won’t prevent some people claiming to believe in such nonsense. Personally I doubt that they really do. We only need two words to undermine such a claim: “Prove it.” Consciousness has the property of intentionality which is the property about-ness, of-ness or for-ness. (Ditto on the DB Hart quote.)

    Just playing devils advocate.

    We already have our fair share of atheistic demons and devils as well as those who are here to play inane and stupid games. Someone playing the “devil’s advocate” is not what we need.

  6. 6
    Ed George says:

    JAD

    We already have our fair share of atheistic demons and devils as well as those who are here to play inane and stupid games. Someone playing the “devil’s advocate” is not what we need.

    I respectfully disagree. It is through trying to argue from the opposite side that the strength (or not) of our argument comes through.

  7. 7
    john_a_designer says:

    I think to understand “mind” or consciousness we have to begin with a few fundamental questions:

    Do you exist? How do you know you exist? Is your existence real?

    I would argue you know you exist (like I know it) because you are conscious of your own existence. However, if the conscious experience of your existence is real then what is consciousness? Does it have a chemical formula? A circuit diagram? If consciousness is created by the brain, how does the brain create it? And, what exactly does it create? Is it something we can measure and analyze like electrons, protons or photons? We can “objectively” analyze the brain. Can we analyze and study consciousness in the same way?

    David Chalmers puts it this way:

    “Why should there be conscious experience at all? It is central to a subjective viewpoint, but from an objective viewpoint it is utterly unexpected. Taking the objective view, we can tell a story about how fields, waves, and particles in the spatiotemporal manifold interact in subtle ways, leading to the development of complex systems such as brains. In principle, there is no deep philosophical mystery in the fact that these systems can process information in complex ways, react to stimuli with sophisticated behavior, and even exhibit such complex capacities as learning, memory, and language. All this is impressive, but it is not metaphysically baffling. In contrast, the existence of conscious experience seems to be a new feature from this viewpoint. It is not something that one would have predicted from the other features alone. That is, consciousness is surprising. If all we knew about were the facts of physics, and even the facts about dynamics and information processing in complex systems, there would be no compelling reason to postulate the existence of conscious experience. If it were not for our direct evidence in the first-person case, the hypothesis would seem unwarranted; almost mystical, perhaps. Yet we know, directly, that there is conscious experience. The question is, how do we reconcile it with everything else we know?”

    David J. Chalmers, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory

    I would argue that if consciousness and mind can’t be studied in the same way then ontologically it is different and distinct from the physical things we study in science. If it’s different and distinct from physical world then that’s dualism.

    However, anyone who make a truth claim has the burden of proof. Therefore, a materialist just cannot claim that dualism is false without explaining what consciousness is and how it came into existence from mindless matter. If he can’t answer questions like those he is not justified in making the argument that any form of dualism is false.

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