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Methodological naturalism guarantees that understanding consciousness will always be an impasse.

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Barry takes on the impossibility of the evolution of consciousness, noting,

Even if for the sake of argument one concedes that natural selection might account for the development of a material body, consciousness remains a mystery. There is still a vast un-crossable gulf between the physical body and mind. In other words, the difference between body and mind is qualitative, not quantitative. You can’t get an immaterial mind no matter how many slight successive modifications of the body there may have been.

One may as well talk about the evolution of the number 7.

Methodological naturalism (materialism) is bad for science. Researchers are looking for a simple materialist explanation of how a neural circuit that creates consciousness could have evolved from the much simpler nervous systems of creatures that probably didn’t exhibit consciousness billions of years ago.

This leads to a profusion of cranky theories (rocks, too, have minds, “attention schema” explain everything), claims about progress (“20 years of progress) that did not happen, claims that the problem isn’t difficult (no indeed, it isn’t difficult, it is insoluble on the only basis that current science will admit), and of course, demands for more time.

Put simply, methodological naturalism cannot incorporate information, which is immaterial and is measured differently from mass or energy. But more to the point, its adherents do not wish to incorporate it. They are still looking for that special brick that fits neatly into place and explains everything. As if.

And as the cranks crank on, the volume and variety of their output stands in for actual progress.

That’s why I started this series of articles, asking what, exactly methodological naturalism has achieved. Starting with:

Big Bang exterminator wanted, will train

Copernicus, you are not going to believe who is using your name. Or how.

12 Replies to “Methodological naturalism guarantees that understanding consciousness will always be an impasse.

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    The Mind Is Not The Brain – Scientific Evidence – Rupert Sheldrake – video – (w/Referenced Notes)
    https://vimeo.com/33479544

  2. 2
    nightlight says:

    Methodological naturalism (materialism)

    The two concepts are not the same.

    Naturalism is merely belief in complete knowability of all observable phenomena (mind and matter) in a form of autonomous, self-contained model or algorithmic system i.e. it is a belief that one doesn’t need ‘deus ex machina’ explanations (capricious elements which are outside of the model intervening into the operation of the model).

    Of course, any algorithmic system or system of postulates, requires some basic assumptions which are taken as given. Hence, one might say that naturalism requires single miracle (the origin of the postulates) at the beginning, then requires no further miracles from there on, but explains and derives everything else in terms of the given postulates.

    In contrast the super-naturalism requires miracles at all times, whenever something gets difficult to explain in terms of present postulates, yet another miracle is invoked to “explain” the phenomenon (effectively shutting down further inquiry).

    If one compares the two approaches to human societies, the naturalism is a society of law given once for all, while super-naturalism is society of a tyrant who makes up the laws as he goes.

    Materialism has nothing to do with the above distinctions. It is a belief that matter-energy is all there is. Thus there is no place for mind-stuff or consciousness in materialism, despite everyone’s experience to the contrary. In contrast, the naturalism doesn’t exclude mind-stuff, but only requires that content of the universe is explicable without invoking external interventions, except for the initial act of creation of the system.

    Within naturalism, the relation between mind and matter are legitimate research subjects, while materialism denies existence of mind-stuff altogether.

  3. 3
    News says:

    nightlight, you and Daniel Dennett need to talk.

  4. 4
    nightlight says:

    I don’t agree with Dennett at all. I made mistake of buying his book “Consciousness Explained” without realizing the publisher has sneakily dropped the word “Away” from the title.

  5. 5
    News says:

    Good to know, nightlight. The difficulty is, many people do understand MN his way. I think there are problems with it anyway, and will unpack them later.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    NL holds:

    ‘naturalism requires single miracle’

    So are you now a deistic pantheist? 🙂 How convenient!

    Here is an interesting comment from Albert Eistein who, though he has been shown to be wrong in his opposition to the ‘spooky action at a distance’ of quantum mechanics, at least had this ‘philosophical’ part of the equation right:

    There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
    – Albert Einstein

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: 13 Horrifying Ways to Die (If You’re an Arthropod) – October 31, 2013
    http://blogs.scientificamerica.....arthropod/

  8. 8
    nightlight says:

    deistic pantheist?

    Pantheism is not a synonym for panpsychism.

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    NL:

    Pantheism is not a synonym for panpsychism.

    Really??? Please do tell!

    Me: (Do) you believe a rock is conscious!?!

    You: Yes, of course,,

    Me: My pet rock (and quantum mechanics) vehemently disagrees with you! 🙂
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-478113

    And now you are calling for ‘one miracle’ on this thread? Yes, please do tell!

  10. 10
    nightlight says:

    You are confusing pantheism with panpsychism (which is my position on problem of consciousness). Regarding the debates about nature of deities, I consider that subject a fruitless waste of time.

    As to “one miracle” that phrase refers to the necessity for any model of reality (or its aspects) to start with some set of postulates taken for granted. If you don’t assume anything at all, you can’t deduce anything at all. There is no way around the basic logic.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Well NL, I can see you have adopted an elaborate metaphysics, based on a pantheistic premise,

    pantheism – Monism and panpsychism
    http://www.britannica.com/EBch.....anpsychism

    Since you simply ignore all the evidence I present against your, IMHO, absurd position, could you please cite the exact falsification criteria for your belief?

    As to your ‘one miracle’, do I actually have to list for you all the questions begged by your ‘basic logic’? Surely you can’t be that lost!

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    Regarding the debates about nature of deities, I consider that subject a fruitless waste of time.

    And yet you seem to find ample time to promote your own false conception of a deity, i.e. gussied up Pantheism! ,,, Go figure! Some people, like me, consider your belief a fruitless waste of time. And indeed, believe what you want, I don’t care! But it is simply not even wrong!

    Digital Physics Argument for God’s Existence – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2Xsp4FRgas

    Digital Physics Argument
    Premise 1: Simulations can only exist is a computer or a mind.
    Premise 2: The universe is a simulation.
    Premise 3: A simulation on a computer still must be simulated in a mind.
    Premise 4: Therefore, the universe is a simulation in a mind (2,3).
    Premise 5: This mind is what we call God.
    Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.

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