Author Topic: The corrosive effect of denial ...  (Read 445 times)

Offline Baruch

The corrosive effect of denial ...
« on: March 14, 2018, 06:59:26 AM »
http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/03/13/the-consciousness-deniers/

What the essay misses, is that denial of consciousness is pushed by Buddhism.

Basically the author supports materialism, properly interpreted by him (consciousness is material/natural).  That implied denial of consciousness comes from a logical deduction on false premises ....

1. Everything is natural/materialist
2. Consciousness is immaterial
Therefore consciousness must be an illusion.

He also blames the "basic consciousness problem" on naive views of matter ... that based on early modern physics (Descartes and Newton) ... and the idea that matter is well understood (academic hubris).
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Offline Hakurei Reimu

Re: The corrosive effect of denial ...
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2018, 06:48:05 PM »
Read the article and it's bullshit.

First off, I very much doubt that Daniel Dennett would deny the existence of the very thing he has spent his life studying. For one thing, there does seem to be no way to characterize consciousness without invoking some sort of activity; even at its most idle, conscious people acknowledge and are at least somewhat aware of the passage of time. The notion of a completely static consciousness is thus absurd. Furthermore, take in the fact that consciousness is at the mercy of the integrity of the brain and the health and activity of its neurons, that consciousness is made up of distinct functional modules connected to regions of the brain, and a plethora of other evidence that points to the conclusion that human consciousness is based upon the neurological functions of the brain. It categorically does not point to a group of people who think that what they're studying does not exist — I would challenge Strawson to explain why there are entire fields of study devoted to subject matter the experts believe don't exist in any form. Even theology doesn't engage in that kind of retardedness.

I think that you would be hard-pressed to find a cognative scientist who denies the existence of consciousness. At best, they would claim that consciousness is an illusion — but that's not the same thing, as Strawson claims. Illusion being "a false idea or belief," appears third on a Google definition, and not at all on Merriam-Webster. Instead, the majority of definitions for 'illusion' point to mistaken impressions or something that is likely to be misinterpreted, implying strongly that there is a reality to consciousness for there to be a mistaken impression of. So what is the mistaken impression and what is the reality of consciousness? It's the illusion that consciousness is something you have, rather than the reality that it's something you do. Consciousness is less like the liver, and more like the digestion.

This illusion, of course, is aggravated by its language (falling unconscious is described as "losing consciousness", as if consciousness is something you drop on the floor, rather than "stopping consciousness"), and the fact that it does seem to the subjective experience like it's just sitting there in your head. But again, this is an illusion — a mistaken impression. Even idle, there's a lot happening underneath the hood that, if it simply stopped and be static, consciousness would simply vanish.

Quote
This is how philosophers in the twentieth century came to endorse the Denial, the silliest view ever held in the history of human thought. “When I squint just right,” Dennett writes in 2013, “it does sort of seem that consciousness must be something in addition to all the things it does for us and to us, some special private glow or here-I-am-ness that would be absent in any robot… But I’ve learned not to credit the hunch. I think it is a flat-out mistake, a failure of imagination.” His position was summarized in an interview in The New York Times: “The elusive subjective conscious experience—the redness of red, the painfulness of pain—that philosophers call qualia? Sheer illusion.” If he’s right, no one has ever really suffered, in spite of agonizing diseases, mental illness, murder, rape, famine, slavery, bereavement, torture, and genocide. And no one has ever caused anyone else pain.
The above is complete fucking idiocy. Again, what is being claimed is that consciousness and qualia and the whole host of terms we use to describe experiences are not as they seem. The image is not passively red; it is actively letting you know that it is red. You are not passively experiencing pain, you are empained — it is actively thrust into your consciousness to be actively acknowledged by your conscious processes. This is what the mainstream of cognitive science says, including Dennett.

Strawson has set up a strawman of cognitive science and equivocation between "illusion" and "delusion."

PS, note that "life" has the same fundamental confusion about it: life being something you have and lose, instead of an activity that proceeds or ceases.
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Offline Baruch

Re: The corrosive effect of denial ...
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2018, 07:06:57 PM »
Good observation ... I found it tendentious too.  But then rhetorical exercises frequently are.

I don't happen to support Dr Dennett (his homunculi theory is taken directly from the Great Chain of Being of the ancient gnostics) ... but I would agree that given the loose way English is used, proving he actually is a Buddhist would be a hard sell.  Unless of course we have photos of him on his off-hours at an ashram or temple.
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Offline Deidre32

Re: The corrosive effect of denial ...
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2018, 07:37:19 PM »
Sounds like consciousness has been likened to the supernatural, in some circles? Thus, why many scientists like to distance themselves from it. But, consciousness is a real, palpable thing, albeit subjective, in terms of our experiences.
The only lasting beauty, is the beauty of the heart. - Rumi

Re: The corrosive effect of denial ...
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2018, 07:48:59 PM »
Some scientists, such as Roger Penrose, think that consciousness is associated with some quantum effect or other. But there's a long way to go before they make any real sense of the idea:

Quantum consciousness


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WXTX0IUaOg
God Not Found
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Stephen Hawking

Offline Baruch

Re: The corrosive effect of denial ...
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2018, 09:27:53 PM »
Dr Al-Khalili is a real scientist ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qgSz1UmcBM

this isn't some woo woo as you find on many QM mysticism films.

Dr Penrose is someone I have followed in the past, including his work on the tie between QM and consciousness, because of Schroedinger's Cat.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2018, 09:57:57 PM by Baruch »
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Offline Cavebear

Re: The corrosive effect of denial ...
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2018, 11:32:45 PM »
Well, some people view the world wearing God-glasses and some don't.  It is rather easy to tell them apart. 
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Re: The corrosive effect of denial ...
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2018, 01:14:37 PM »
Dr Penrose is someone I have followed in the past, including his work on the tie between QM and consciousness, because of Schroedinger's Cat.
"When I hear about Schrodinger's cat," Stephen Hawking once said, "I reach for my gun."
God Not Found
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Stephen Hawking

Offline Baruch

Re: The corrosive effect of denial ...
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2018, 06:57:49 PM »
"When I hear about Schrodinger's cat," Stephen Hawking once said, "I reach for my gun."

Penrose and Hawking frequently disagreed at a professional level ...

As Wittgenstein reached for the poker, when listening to Popper lecture ...

Cantabrigians ;-)  Popper was London School of Economics, and Penrose is Oxford.  Both Hawking and Wittgenstein were Cambridge.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 08:47:48 PM by Baruch »
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Offline SGOS

Re: The corrosive effect of denial ...
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2018, 07:46:33 PM »
Sounds like consciousness has been likened to the supernatural, in some circles? .
Whenever something cannot be explained, be it Arora Borealis, fire, or creation, in steps the Pope or some other charlatan to explain by decree that it is the hand of God at work.  Consciousness makes a fine target for the exploitation of ignorance.  I can't explain it.  You can't explain it.  No one else can explain it.  Therefore, God.

Offline SGOS

Re: The corrosive effect of denial ...
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2018, 07:50:45 PM »
You can easily understand consciousness by explaining it through QM, especially if you don't understand QM.

Re: The corrosive effect of denial ...
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2018, 07:52:01 PM »
Yeah, to paraphrase Bill O'Reilly, thought goes in, thought goes out - you can't explain that!
God Not Found
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Stephen Hawking

Offline SGOS

Re: The corrosive effect of denial ...
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2018, 08:00:37 PM »
Schrodinger's cat has to be dead or alive.  You can't say it's both on the grounds that you don't know.  Even if you throw in some obscure chemicals that create a poisonous gas and you don't know if they combined or not.  That is an irrelevant detail to make the story more interesting.  But that cat is either dead or alive.  Your lack of knowing alters nothing about the reality inside the box.

Offline Baruch

Re: The corrosive effect of denial ...
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2018, 08:42:45 PM »
Whenever something cannot be explained, be it Arora Borealis, fire, or creation, in steps the Pope or some other charlatan to explain by decree that it is the hand of God at work.  Consciousness makes a fine target for the exploitation of ignorance.  I can't explain it.  You can't explain it.  No one else can explain it.  Therefore, God.

Some may claim that.  I don't think that the ability of apes to explain things is unlimited.  I also don't think our apish explanations are as solid as we like to think.  That doesn't imply that the Vatican is right, of course.
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Offline Baruch

Re: The corrosive effect of denial ...
« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2018, 08:46:54 PM »
Schrodinger's cat has to be dead or alive.  You can't say it's both on the grounds that you don't know.  Even if you throw in some obscure chemicals that create a poisonous gas and you don't know if they combined or not.  That is an irrelevant detail to make the story more interesting.  But that cat is either dead or alive.  Your lack of knowing alters nothing about the reality inside the box.

That is why it is a fun problem.  And of course Penrose doesn't have an explanation, just a research program.  For example, I did watch one actual graduate level QM lecture (from a Canadian university) that supported (for no particular reason) the many universe theory ... which says that in some infinite universes, the cat is alive, and in other infinite universes the cat is dead.  It doesn't have to be either/or if you allow infinite parallel, non-identical universes.  The QM function collapses once we know, not because we know, but because we have interfered by opening the box.

And yes, you are proposing classical realism.  I happen to agree with you.  I don't accept infinite universes.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 08:50:13 PM by Baruch »
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