Consciousness: Dennett says it is an illusion (General)

by David Turell @, Monday, September 30, 2019, 19:09 (120 days ago) @ dhw

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.

dhw: 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.

DAVID: I view totally differently. Consciousness has appeared only when a brain evolved that was complex enough to accept it. I still view that animals with a brain are conscious; nothing is conscious at lower levels of development. Therefore it takes a certain level of brain complexity to receive consciousness as shown by the NDE's studies. They have to be recognized as part of the evidence, and not ignored.

dhw: Firstly, you repeat as if it were fact your fixed belief that organisms without a brain are not conscious, although you know perfectly well that many reputable scientists argue the opposite.

Of course organisms with a brain are conscious. Your few scientists are three or four in number.

dhw: Secondly, Egnor’s point was that “…if consciousness is not physical, how could it evolve? Darwininan natural selection can only act on a physical attribute.” My point is that he is confusing evolving with originating. Evolution is Chapter 2 in life’s history: nobody knows how consciousness originated, but consciousness has evolved/developed - just as physical cells have developed – from comparatively simple beginnings to the complexities of the present. And that applies whether you are a materialist or a dualist. NDEs are part of the evidence for dualism against materialism (I remain neutral on the subject), but they are irrelevant to the subject of consciousness and evolution.

How can NDE's be irrelevant if they are evidence for dualism? You are ignoring (purposely?) the NDE receiver argument.

dhw: I would add, in response to Egnor, that natural selection (which of course creates nothing) has determined that the organism which has evolved/developed the highest level of consciousness has so far survived and also threatens to survive many other species, though these may be/may have been superior in other departments.

I doubt natural selection did anything of the sort. You are back to Darwin and competition driving evolution naturally. Perhaps it is all driven by God. Natural selection in my view helps set up econiches and prime predators, nothing more.


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