Please stop spouting nonsense theories about the meaning of consciousness

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Please stop spouting nonsense theories about the meaning of consciousness

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

Many of our existing theories are not only wrong, they're irresponsible


Quote:Dennett's last book, From Bacteria to Bach and Back made this "illusion" argument by pointing out that our brains ceaselessly construct and modify and process the "raw data" from our senses into a coherent picture. The idea that our brains construct a not-completely-accurate picture of the world for us is not exactly new. Scientists have known this for decades, and philosophers for literally millennia. Any child can notice it: What we see when we open our eyes is a composite picture made by our mind using data from both of our eyes, which is why there are optical illusions and why if you block out one eye and then the other you will see things differently than with both eyes open. And, yes, this is true of everything else we experience, not just sight.

But this is a complete non-sequitur. That our conscious experience is constructed by our brain does not in any way shape or form prove that consciousness is an illusion. If I say that I'm going to see Shakespeare's Hamlet tonight, and you respond by saying, "That's not true, because Hamlet never existed," that fact would be irrelevant: I will still be sitting in a theater experiencing Shakespeare's Hamlet. The fact that our consciousness is in a large sense a "theater" is important to know, but it doesn't alter the fact that there is still "someone" watching the play.

In fact, this point could just as easily be taken as evidence for the existence of the spiritual world. Our brain ceaselessly constructs reality for us. Indeed, we only grasp reality through concepts, which are nonphysical realities. We only see a flower as red because we have a concept of the color red; there is no such thing as the color red in reality, only different wavelengths of light perceived by our nervous system and interpreted by our minds in such a way as to give us the utterly subjective experience of seeing something as red. In this sense, we have a much more intimate experience of the nonmaterial world of concepts, ideas, and the mind, than of the world of matter.

But the bottom line is this: Of course consciousness is not an illusion, since it's the only thing that we have direct, unmediated experience of...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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Regarding this bit:


Quote:In fact, this point could just as easily be taken as evidence for the existence of the spiritual world. Our brain ceaselessly constructs reality for us. Indeed, we only grasp reality through concepts, which are nonphysical realities. We only see a flower as red because we have a concept of the color red; there is no such thing as the color red in reality, only different wavelengths of light perceived by our nervous system and interpreted by our minds in such a way as to give us the utterly subjective experience of seeing something as red. In this sense, we have a much more intimate experience of the nonmaterial world of concepts, ideas, and the mind, than of the world of matter.


It occurred to me that Bertrand Russel, atheist author of Why I am Not a Christian, actually said something similar:

‘In the strict sense, it is not whiteness that is in our mind, but the act of thinking of whiteness. … [If] whiteness were the thought as opposed to its object, no two different men could think of it, and no one man could think of it twice. … Thus universals are not thoughts, though when known they are the objects of thoughts. … [Universals] subsist or have being, where “being” is opposed to “existence” as being timeless [eternal].`
 -The Problems of Philosophy
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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(2022-01-09, 08:48 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: It occurred to me that Bertrand Russel, atheist author of Why I am Not a Christian, actually said something similar:

‘In the strict sense, it is not whiteness that is in our mind, but the act of thinking of whiteness. … [If] whiteness were the thought as opposed to its object, no two different men could think of it, and no one man could think of it twice. … Thus universals are not thoughts, though when known they are the objects of thoughts. … [Universals] subsist or have being, where “being” is opposed to “existence” as being timeless [eternal].`
 -The Problems of Philosophy
Quote: Thus universals are not thoughts, though when known they are the objects of thoughts.

Russell's comment here is a direct forerunner on the road to informational realism.  For me: info realism is the simple, generalized and holistic concept than judges reality to have non-physical real-world variables.  Here Russell makes a direct claim that universals/abstract objects can be naturally occurring, independent from our minds.  Throughout Whitehead and Russell's work there is foundational presentations on mental outcomes as activity and event.

https://www.informationphilosopher.com/k...dence.html 
Quote: 
Correspondence Theory in Information Philosophy
The relations between ideas and things is much more straightforward in information philosophy.
To the extent of the correspondence, the isomorphism, the one-to-one mapping, between information structures (and processes) in the world and representative structures and functions in the mind, information philosophy claims that we have quantifiable personal or subjective knowledge of the world.

To the extent of the agreement (again a correspondence or isomorphism) between information in the minds of an open community of inquirers seeking the best explanations for phenomena, information philosophy further claims that we have quantifiable inter-subjective knowledge of other minds and an external world. This is as close as we come to "objective" knowledge, and knowledge of objects - Kant's "things in themselves."  Bob Doyle
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I liked Gobry's article - it was a philosopher reaffirming what is self evidently wrong with the idea of consciousness being an illusion - namely that an illusion requires a consciousness on which to act!

He seems frustrated by modern vagueness on this point
Quote:People shouldn't say absurd things, especially when they are credentialed academics, and especially when those claims then seep into pop culture under the guise of "academic consensus." This isn't an argument for God; consciousness proves that matter is not the only thing in existence, but this does not necessarily prove there is a God. It's an argument for logic.

When I think of the Skeptiko podcasts in which people have tried to ague round Dennett's idea, only to replace the concept of consciousness being an illusion by some equally vague hand-waving concept that could be shot down just as easily if anyone could be bothered.

There is real value in CLEAR THINKING about consciousness.

David
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