3 votes

Illusionism fixes the hard problem of consciousness

6 comments

  1. [3]
    Moonchild
    (edited )
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    The article says repeatedly something that can be boiled down to: That is, consciousness as conceived is neither: Rational, nor Scientific 2 is obviously bogus. It makes the claim that we may only...

    The article says repeatedly something that can be boiled down to:

    there is no rational or scientific way to describe consciousness

    That is, consciousness as conceived is neither:

    1. Rational, nor

    2. Scientific

    2 is obviously bogus. It makes the claim that we may only understand the world in a scientific manner; highly limiting if so. And the problem at hand lies in the domain of philosophy, not science, for the exact reason that it is not approachable scientifically.

    How about 1? I base my understanding of the world on observations that I make. That I observe consciousness in myself seems to be reason enough to avoid dismissing it entirely; and that same fact means that it exists in some sense or other. Implicit in the illusionism argument is that certain observations are ‘illusory’, and that such observations are less important than others. This is not without merit. For instance, if I observe a purple man after taking LSD, this is unlikely to relate to other observations I make, once I finish metabolising the LSD. But the fact that the argument does not justify its choices of which things to consider illusory and which not is problematic.

    3 votes
    1. Moonchild
      Link Parent
      Side note: the assumption is often made that things dreamt, hallucinated, or imagined are not real and hence not significant. I find this problematic as well. Such things are self-evidently real...

      if I observe a purple man after taking LSD

      Side note: the assumption is often made that things dreamt, hallucinated, or imagined are not real and hence not significant. I find this problematic as well. Such things are self-evidently real by token of ‘cogito, ergo sum’; and not inherently less significant than other observations.

      Science is overpowering; and it attempts to create a model of the universe with mathematical aesthetic: axioms, as few and simple as possible. This is one of three equally unsatisfying ways of creating truth; see munchausen trilemma. Circularity finds itself much more interesting in the case of ‘I am, therefore I must be’ (or should that be ‘I seem to be, therefore I must be’?)—when one finds one's self caught in the middle of the circle.

      2 votes
    2. Moonchild
      Link Parent
      The survey at the bottom suffers similarly; it implicitly ascribes value to: rationality coherence use which is somewhat problematic. It does not explain why these things are valuable; yet, the...

      The survey at the bottom suffers similarly; it implicitly ascribes value to:

      • rationality

      • coherence

      • use

      which is somewhat problematic. It does not explain why these things are valuable; yet, the second answer implies that it is a question whether precision is of value. It seems to me very odd to assume that coherence has value, but not to assume that precision has value.


      Perhaps more grounded arguments have been made and elided from TLA in the interest of brevity, but if so I find the omissions problematic.

      1 vote
  2. [4]
    Comment deleted by author
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    1. mrnd
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      This is something that I find sensible too, and I found it really annoying how this article (and maybe illusionism generally) refuses to engage with anything beyond "it is hard to define...

      This is something that I find sensible too, and I found it really annoying how this article (and maybe illusionism generally) refuses to engage with anything beyond "it is hard to define consciousness, so it probably isn't real". I experience things, so experiencing things must be real.

      But I have to add that simply saying "panpsychism" doesn't really solve the hard problem by itself. It explains how experiencing things is possible, but it does not explain how the completely separate system of brain's cognitive functionality is able to know it experiences things.

      This is why I believe, rather than saying "all matter experiences", it is probably more useful to say "all information processing systems experience". Of course, it can still be said that a single proton processes information (by having forces acting on it and reacting to it), but this still seems like a more useful framework. It is not the atoms making up the brain that experience, but the whole information system that can make use of the human cognitive skills.

      2 votes
    2. streblo
      Link Parent
      How is a proton storing information about consciousness? In some undiscovered aspect of the physical universe? I don't think anyone is claiming there is a magical threshold. I'm definitely not...

      This makes me suspect, given our fruitless efforts so far, that there's no magical point at which consciousness or sentience emerges, and that those are qualities inherent to every bit of matter in the universe.

      How is a proton storing information about consciousness? In some undiscovered aspect of the physical universe?

      I discount the idea that there's some magical point in complex living organisms at which consciousness emerges

      I don't think anyone is claiming there is a magical threshold. I'm definitely not well read on the topic but it makes sense to me that if you hook up enough inputs and outputs in a "strange loop" that the stream of information itself is what defines consciousness. Thus it's not a matter of things being conscious or not but where they fall on a consciousness gradient.

      1 vote
    3. Staross
      Link Parent
      That seems dubious, the whole field of psychology is about analyzing feelings and experiences scientifically (since the fall of behaviorism at least).

      but you can't observe and analyze feelings and experiences scientifically

      That seems dubious, the whole field of psychology is about analyzing feelings and experiences scientifically (since the fall of behaviorism at least).

      1 vote