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At Mind Matters News: Neuroscientists: The Hard Problem of consciousness isn’t so hard!

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Neuroscientists Antonio Damasio and Anil Seth tell Nautilus that materialist explanations will eventually crack consciousness, as they have cracked everything else:


A reader might come away from this discussion with the following observations:

● We all know that we are conscious; it is the one thing of which we are most sure, as analytical philosopher Galen Strawson has pointed out.

● It’s not strictly true that “Every bit of evidence we have is that the mysteries of the universe have been gradually solved by science” (Damasio). While science is making headway with many mysteries, others (origin of life, for example, or the origin of the Cambrian Explosion) remain opaque.

● While Damasio and Seth seem convinced that materialist “science” will explain consciousness, it’s not clear that they are anywhere close — though they have certainly learned some interesting things about the workings of the brain. That attitude is often called promissory materialism: “Just you wait and materialism will solve this problem.”

As the problem remains unsolved, we are entitled to conclude, provisionally, that consciousness is not a material phenomenon and that that is why materialism-based methods don’t work.

But don’t expect Damasio, Seth, or their successors to take that lying down. Too much is at stake philosophically.

News, “Neuroscientists: The Hard Problem of consciousness isn’t so hard!” at Mind Matters News


Takehome: If consciousness remains unexplained by materialist theories, we are entitled to conclude, at least provisionally, that it is not a material phenomenon.

You may also wish to read: Consciousness is destroying physicalism Materialism (physical stuff is all there is) is taking a well-deserved beating of late. There is no basis in mere physics for what every human being absolutely knows: Our own consciousness.

5 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Neuroscientists: The Hard Problem of consciousness isn’t so hard!

  1. 1
    dogdoc says:

    Galen Strawson is a terrific philosopher, and states the obvious – our consciousness is the only thing of which anyone can be truly certain. More strongly than anyone else, Strawson has taken down Daniel Dennett over his bizarre “consciousness is an illusion” arguments. He also has a thoroughly convincing argument against deliberative free will.

    Not sure what this means:

    If consciousness remains unexplained by materialist theories, we are entitled to conclude, at least provisionally, that it is not a material phenomenon.

    We have no explanation of any type for consciousness. Saying it is “immaterial” doesn’t provide any positive information about the nature of consciousness; it merely says it is not material (whatever “material” means). So, provisionally concluding consciousness is immaterial is like provisionally concluding that we don’t understand what consciousness is and how it relates to the world of our conscious perceptions.

  2. 2
    AaronS1978 says:

    Kristen French if I’m not mistaken is a staunch materialist and comments quite frequently that Consciousness is not magical

    Neuroscientists Antonio Damasio and Anil Seth Are also of almost the exact same mind set as Kristin and give no credence to the question of the hard problem, in fact Anil dismisses it right out of hand

    Furthermore he’s delusional if he thinks he’s going to dissolve the problem of the consciousness. This is actually already has been addressed by David Chalmers multiple times

    Alan can take it apart all he wants, smashing it back together isn’t going to magically create consciousness because you manage to pick it apart, kind of

    His ideals are almost sophomoric, I mean this is a simple philosophical question given to freshman in college level Philosophy. When does an onion stop being an onion if you keep pulling it apart? When does the wagon stop being a wagon if you remove parts from the wagon? Doesn’t stop being a wagon if you remove a wheel?

    He doesn’t know this actually emerges and he doesn’t have any credence to emergent properties at all. Which is why I think he will completely fail.

    Here are some simple question he doesn’t ask but he will need to know

    When does something start becoming consciousness? How many parts does it take? What part do you remove that makes consciousness cease? What part magically makes it appear? If you remove any of the other parts does it persist?

    And when I referred consciousness I referred to the subjective experience not wakefulness

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    Maybe Alan Seth Should spend more time Figuring out the materialistic aging process and reversing that over trying to prove his materialism is correct by trying to demystify consciousness

  4. 4
    polistra says:

    Seeking answers to the unanswerable is the best way to insure perpetually increasing budgets and grants. Solving a real problem ends the budget, so we NEVER NEVER NEVER solve real problems.

  5. 5
    Fasteddious says:

    Hmmm, “promissory materialism”. A great phrase, I love it!
    I will use this to counter the “God of the gaps” nonsense so often attempted by anti-ID types. The fact that materialistic explanations for some aspects of reality are growing ever more remote or incredible does not bode well for the promissory notes. A materialist IOU should not be accepted by any reasoning person. Here’s one from the OP, “materialist explanations … have cracked everything else.” Such hubris!
    As a side note, here is a blog about consciousness and one’s own identity:
    https://thopid.blogspot.com/2020/06/philosophy-103-who-am-i-who-are-you.html

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