From New Scientist:
However, the more that is discovered about consciousness, the less obvious its role appears to be. For example, measurements of brain activity reveal that muscles and brain areas prepare for an action, such as a reaching out for an object, before we are even aware of our intention to make that movement. As noted by the psychologist Jeffrey Grey and others, consciousness simply occurs too late to affect the outcomes of the mental processes apparently linked to it.
So where does this powerful sense of self come from? We suggest it is the product of our … More. (You have to pay to read the article.)
Don’t pay; such efforts are virtually always uninsightful. After all, they would be world news if they weren’t.*
That’s principally because the core readers are not interested in knowing what the subject under discussion, the self/consciousness is really like, but only in knowing how to fit it into an existing naturalist and reductionist frame.
That doesn’t work, of course. But there isn’t really anything else they can do. If there were, they wouldn’t be who they are doing what they are.
We are, however, informed in advance that “Consciousness evolved for the greater good, not just the self.”
“Greater good?” No one ever achieved totalitarian power over others by saying that he wanted to promote the “greater bad,” only the “greater good.”
One hopes that the folk at New Scientist are happily oblivious to the authoritarian/totalitarian assumptions underlying such an idea: One’s consciousness is not one’s own, private and independent, perceptions of the group one finds oneself in after all. Rather, it is something that randomly “evolved” to serve the group’s needs. As all the other group consciousness units “evolved.”
When people honestly believe things like that, they drift toward understanding civil liberties as mere license and denigrating traditional liberties like freedom of conscience.
At any rate, we can be sure of one thing: Pop science will be there, ready and eager to help, with suitable insights such as “how the brain creates the illusion of the mind,” etc.
*It’s a bit like going to see the “penguin boy” at the circus freak show. You know he’d be world news if it was true. He is just some unfortunate who could have made good use of a world class pediatric hospital. So what are we doing here anyway?
Note: Re claims about consciousness occurring “too late to affect the outcomes of the mental processes apparently linked to it,” consciousness includes the summation to oneself of decisions taken, but is clearly not only that.
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