Consciousness: Dennett says it is an illusion (General)

by David Turell @, Saturday, September 28, 2019, 16:09 (365 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "...if consciousness is non-physical, how could it evolve? Darwinian natural selection can only act on a physical attribute."

dhw: Evolution means change, and it is neither synonymous with natural selection (which does not create the changes necessary for evolution, but only decides which changes will survive) nor confined to physical attributes! If we accept the definition of consciousness as awareness (what else is it?) then just like biological organisms, it has evolved through an accumulation of factors from the past coupled with present innovations. That applies both to dualistic and materialistic consciousness, as described here:

QUOTE: "There is another possibility. Darwinian theory could account for non-physical consciousness if consciousness were caused by the brain [= MATERIALISM] — that is, if non-physical consciousness were a property of brain activity and thus inextricably linked to brain activity. In that case, the argument is that the brain evolved and consciousness was dragged along because it is linked to brain activity.[…] The problem with this epiphenomenal view of consciousness is that it renders the mind powerless. If consciousness is merely a property of the brain, it has no agency — no power to cause anything — in itself.”

dhw: What does he mean, then, by the “mind”? It makes no difference whether you believe in a material or an immaterial source of consciousness – the mind is the ability to think, feel, make decisions etc., so in what sense is it powerless? Does Egnor really believe that human awareness, regardless of its source, has not advanced/changed/developed/evolved since the days of our ancestors? The mind is the conscious part of the self. We don’t know what generates it, but we do know that it causes the body to respond to its commands, and it causes the evolutionary changes to language, society, ideas and other immaterial features of life, not to mention our technology. Powerless? Unchanging? I suggest that the powerful ability to think developed/evolved just as the powerful ability to walk and talk developed/evolved.

DAVID: I'll agree so far as evolution produced our powerful brain which allows it to receive consciousness and mindfulness. But evolution did not produce consciousness which is Egnor's point.

dhw: Is it? Then he is confusing evolution, which is Chapter 2 of life’s history, with origins, which is Chapter 1. Evolution is the process of development once life had begun. I doubt if Egnor shares your belief that your God programmed the very first cells with every undabbled change in evolution’s history, in which case perhaps he would consider the possibility that the very first cells – origin unknown – were sentient, intelligent, conscious, decision-making organisms, and in the course of life’s history that conscious intelligence (intelligent consciousness?) evolved/developed to its current level of awareness, power and agency.

Egnor is a contributor to the ID site. He would agree with me if we had a discussion. Evolution only explains consciousness, if viewed as developing a complex brain that is capable of receiving consciousness, as above.


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