Rasputin wrote: ↑
Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:26 am
Hold on - I did say "if". I was trying to answer your question about why the scientifically minded tend to think that the view that consciousness is primary is unscientific. Presumably when you talk about the scientifically minded you are thinking of people who believe that consciousness can be explained in terms of the phenomena of physics.
A misunderstanding. For me being scientifically-minded means pursuing the truth, whatever it is.
I was trying to trace the links between that idea and the idea that the opposing view is not only wrong but unscientific. I think there is an affinity between these views and am not surprised if people who hold one also tend to hold the other.
I agree there is an affinity. But as it is impossible to show that the theory that 'consciousness is all' is unscientific all it means is that a lot of people think they are being scientifically-minded when in fact they're ignoring science and just jumping to conclusions. (And I''m not sure I've ever come across a person who rejects this theory who understands it well enough to judge whether it's scientific.)
I am inclined to think that consciousness can be explained in terms of physical phenomena, but would not have just thrown that out as an assertion.
Fair enough. It is untestable so not a scientific view, but each to his own when it comes to opinions.
I think it is plausible that the crucial difference between a system just registering a noise, say, and a conscious being hearing it, is that the conscious being registers it as an event that is happening to its self. In a human being, that noise will also prime all sorts of associations which will colour and enrich what it registers as happening to its self, and the event will take its place in a narrative that links what is happening (to its self) right now to what has already happened and what is expected to happen in the future. On that view consciousness is illusory, like the self, and in the end they are really one and the same illusion - but it makes evolutionary sense for them to be part of our standard equipment.
If this is your understanding of consciousness then of course you will believe it is not primary. It seems unlikely that anyone believes that the 'self' that you're speaking of is non-contingent. I've never seen anyone suggest it. You're speaking of 'intentional' consciousness, not awareness, and pointing out, quite rightly, the untrustworthiness of the theories that we use to interpret our direct experience.
I think it has been argued that consciousness is reducible to physical phenomena, but I'm not sure any scientist has considered the converse question of whether physical phenomena can be reduced to consciousness. I suspect that it may be an unscientific hypothesis in that it is not testable.
Many scientists endorse this view, and many physicists. My favourite is Erwin Schrodinger, who argued the case for forty years. It is not testable empirically for the same reason that the existence of consciousness is not, but it is testable in experience and provable in logic . So whether it is testable may depend on what we mean. This is at least better than materialism, which is not testable by any method.
... I won't claim to be able to see, just now, all of the ways that testability could come into the argument, but I was just raising it because it could be a ground for saying that the view in question was unscientific - and as I say I am not very concerned about that.
No problem. But for me this is a big issue. The idea that materialism is more 'scientific' in Popper's terms than idealism is demonstrably wrong. I immediately go to war when I see this idea promoted. It is one of the most ridiculous things that so many people who think they are scientifically-minded also think that a metaphysical conjecture is a scientific theory just as long as they agree with it. No truly scientific thinker would make this basic mistake.