Well now, this is an interesting discussion. We sit on opposite sides a high fence.
Rasputin wrote: ↑
Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:11 pm
I think it's better to engage with his argument rather than trying to dismiss it in this way. He has devoted most of his working life to the study of consciousness and I think the title of his book Consciousness Explained counts as mentioning this. It may well be that your conception of consciousness is so different from his that you don't consider that his subject is really consciousness at all, but I don't think you can say it's not until you've argued for your conception.
Dennett's arguments are empty and this is why they've had no impact. He does not study consciousness he just thinks about it a lot, which is not the same thing. By 'study' I mean examine the phenomenon itself. I cannot imagine calling a book 'Consciousness Explained' and then failing to explain it but I suppose it's good marketing. I'm sorry, but I have nothing but contempt for his approach, which I do not regard as scientific. Let's stay away from Dennett.
(Do you see the 'self' as eternal?) No, I see it as organising principle which the brain has evolved to use because it helps individuals survive and reproduce. Within the logical system that is the brain, it is true by definition that the self exists, but it does not exist in any strong objective sense. I think that consciousness can plausibly be explained in the same way.
Hmm. Given your definition of consciousness, which seems to be 'intentional' consciousness', this is more or less the perennial view. It is just there would be more to consciousness than your definition allows.
We have not discussed it but I gather from your references to the perennial philosophy, and from what little I know about that, that you would also regard the self as a construct of the mind. Presumably you would say that to explain the self as a fiction - possibly a useful one, but a fiction nevertheless - is to understand it.
Anybody can say it is a fiction, no understanding would be required. To understand it would be to actually know it is a fiction. Dennett uses a bower-bird nest as a metaphor for the self and does not even realise that he is endorsing the Upanishads.
Why then do you deny that to explain consciousness in the same way is to understand it?
I think you'd agree that an explanation is not an understanding. It might the wrong explanation.
It seems to me that consciousness can be explained in terms of ordinary physics.
Good luck with this idea. Perhaps we could come back in another thousand years and see how the project is going.
Therefore, while I suspect that the phenomena of physics are themselves derived, I think it is plausible that they are more fundamental than consciousness. I don't discount the possibility that it may be the other way around, but so far as I can see, you are just insisting that it must be without giving any reasons.
I appreciate your avoidance of dogma. if you do not 'discount the possibility' then you do not know whether consciousness is prior to space-time or depends on it. The reasons for my view are long and involved but I'm only endorsing Kant. My reasons are a lot to do with metaphysics, where materialism does not survive analysis, and it takes account of a vast literature that explains consciousness. Metaphysics would be crucial here since if empiricism cannot study consciousness then logical analysis becomes of vital importance. Unless, that is, we are going to actually study consciousness, which would be the best and most scientific way to make sense of it.
Our views are so far apart that I think we're doing well not to be getting agitated.
I've deliberately not expanded on my view because it's OT, and was just defending it from charges of being unscientific. I'd be happy to delve deeper but perhaps it should be elsewhere. Or perhaps not. I'll expand if you want but I don't want to bore you. It's a huge topic. One thing is for sure, the unfalsifiability of Solipsism means that your view will never be verified and is untestable. It would therefore be tough to argue that it's scientific.