Science of Consciousness: The Elephant in the Room

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Science of Consciousness: The Elephant in the Room

Joshua R. Farris and Alin C. Cucu

Quote:Materialists typically believe that science alone can do the trick. Science has had great success in explaining many functions of living organisms in purely material terms. So why not consciousness as well?

But the easy extrapolation from neuronal wirings to living experience — consciousness — has failed to materialize (pun intended). The only things on offer from materialistic science are promissory notes. For example, neuroscientist Christof Koch had wagered in 1998 that neuroscience would find an explanation (a materialist one, that is) within 25 years. He recently lost this bet to philosopher David Chalmers (who believes consciousness is non-physical). However, Koch is still hopeful that the big breakthrough might happen 25 years from now. More technology and accumulated knowledge are presumed to bridge a gap that seems unbridgeable for much more principled reasons: promissory notes are what atheistic materialist explanations are most famous for.

The unease is felt by many. Annaka Harris (wife of the famous New Atheist Sam Harris) has noted the significance of a new, non-materialistic theory of consciousness and that it might be something like the final hope for making sense of consciousness. It is important to point out the why of her concession: precisely because of the failures materialistic science has met...
'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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