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Michael Egnor sympathizes with people who think the universe is conscious

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Egnor doesn’t agree with cosmopsychist philosophers like Philip Goff (right) but his reasoning is worth noting:

Philosopher Philip Goff is an advocate for cosmopsychism, the viewpoint that the universe itself is conscious and that we partake in some fashion in this universal consciousness. It’s a variant of panpsychism—the view that everything has consciousness of a sort.

I don’t believe that either panpsychism or cosmopsychism is true. But I have some sympathy with people who hold those views. They take consciousness seriously in a way that materialists don’t. There is no doubt that consciousness is a fundamental property of existence, at least of animal and human existence. As Descartes observed, to even ask about consciousness is to exercise it…

There is no doubt that consciousness is a fundamental property of animal and human existence. As philosopher Philip Goff notes, a philosophy that cannot plausibly account for it cannot be correct.

Michael Egnor, “Why materialism fails as a science-based philosophy” at Mind Matters News

See also: Four researchers whose work sheds light on the reality of the mind The brain can be cut in half, but the intellect and will cannot, says Michael Egnor. The intellect and will are metaphysically simple

4 Replies to “Michael Egnor sympathizes with people who think the universe is conscious

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    I don’t know where Egnor gets the idea that materialists don’t take the problem of consciousness seriously. Following David Chalmers, we recognize it’s a hard one. We just don’t see how postulating a creator God solves it unless you can account for a conscious God.

  2. 2
    Axel says:

    If belief in an infinite, omniscient and omnipotent god, as the Designer of our world, is true, but not perfectly explanatory, it is still an improvement on casting about endlessly in the hope of a more ‘convenient’ postulation that doesn’t ‘let God’s foot in the door’.

    Disdaining the path to truth on doctrinaire grounds is rather akin to ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’ : petulance, foot-stamping – reflecting anything but a love of science, even in terms of the derivation of the word, ‘science’.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky states:

    I don’t know where Egnor gets the idea that materialists don’t take the problem of consciousness seriously. Following David Chalmers, we recognize it’s a hard one.

    Apparently atheistic materialists, such as Seversky, don’t really follow Chalmers too closely on the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness, or else they would not be atheistic materialists: As Philip Goff himself noted, David Chalmers is on the fence as to whether pansychism or substance dualism is correct.

    Could Consciousness be an Illusion? Philip Goff – June 30, 2014 –
    Excerpt: “I recently participated in a conference which was unusual for a couple of reasons. Firstly it was held in a sailing boat in the Arctic. Secondly the consensus view of the conference was that consciousness is an illusion. This view, ‘illusionism’, is about as far removed from my own perspective in philosophy of mind as it is possible to get. Me (Philip Goff) the panpsychist, Martine Nida-Rümelin the substance dualist, and David Chalmers who splits his opinion between these two views, formed the official on board opposition to the hard-core reductionist majority. Somehow we managed to avoid being made to walk the plank.”,,
    Illusionism is even less plausible than solipsism: the view that my conscious mind is the only thing that exists.,,,
    http://conscienceandconsciousn.....-illusion/

    Of note, ‘illusionism’ is born out of materialistic metaphysics:

    “We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.”
    Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor

    The Consciousness Deniers – Galen Strawson – March 13, 2018
    Excerpt: What is the silliest claim ever made? The competition is fierce, but I think the answer is easy. Some people have denied the existence of consciousness: conscious experience, the subjective character of experience, the “what-it-is-like” of experience.,,,
    Who are the Deniers? I have in mind—at least—those who fully subscribe to something called “philosophical behaviorism” as well as those who fully subscribe to something called “functionalism” in the philosophy of mind. Few have been fully explicit in their denial, but among those who have been, we find Brian Farrell, Paul Feyerabend, Richard Rorty, and the generally admirable Daniel Dennett. Ned Block once remarked that Dennett’s attempt to fit consciousness or “qualia” into his theory of reality “has the relation to qualia that the US Air Force had to so many Vietnamese villages: he destroys qualia in order to save them.”
    One of the strangest things the Deniers say is that although it seems that there is conscious experience, there isn’t really any conscious experience: the seeming is, in fact, an illusion. The trouble with this is that any such illusion is already and necessarily an actual instance of the thing said to be an illusion.
    http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2.....s-deniers/

    The Illusionist – Daniel Dennett’s latest book marks five decades of majestic failure to explain consciousness. – 2017
    “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
    https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-illusionist

    Of related note, David Chalmers is semi-famous for getting the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness across to lay people in a very easy to understand manner:

    David Chalmers on Consciousness (Descartes, Philosophical Zombies and the Hard Problem) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK1Yo6VbRoo

    Also of related note, the reason why materialists have such a hard time understanding quantum mechanics is because fundamental, defining, attributes of the immaterial mind, (specifically free will and ‘the experience of ‘the now”), are extremely tightly correlated with the ‘spooky’ actions we witness in quantum mechanics:

    How Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness Correlate – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f0hL3Nrdas

  4. 4
    jstanley01 says:

    BA77 @3
    I don’t see any practical or functional difference between a solipsist and someone who believes that consciousness is an illusion (a belief widespread enough that, by now, its believers ought to be added to the lexicon under the second or third definition of the word “illusionist,” below the magicians at number one).

    Except for the fact that illusionists, to remain consistent, must allow themselves a psychological dysfunction that isn’t required of solopsists, since the latter don’t have to convince themselves that they, themselves, don’t exist: “Who am I going to believe? Science, or my own lying eyes?

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