Consciousness: Dennett says it is an illusion (General)

by dhw, Sunday, September 29, 2019, 08:40 (112 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: What does he [Egnor] 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.

DAVID: 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.

Evolution doesn’t explain consciousness full stop; it can only explain how consciousness may have developed from simple beginnings to its current levels of complexity – as with evolution from the comparatively simple first cells to the complexities of current bodies. Nobody knows its origin, just as nobody knows the origin of life, reproduction, or the mechanisms of evolution itself. If the source of consciousness is material, then it is inexplicable but I would suggest it goes back to the first cells, and evolution (Chapter 2 of life’s history) has enhanced it from bacterial level to human level. If it is immaterial, then you will claim it has come from God - also inexplicable – and the brain as a receiver provides no explanation of consciousness or of its evolution to its current level. As a receiver the brain would only respond to the demands of consciousness.


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