Consciousness: Dennett says it is an illusion (General)

by dhw, Tuesday, October 01, 2019, 09:49 (119 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: 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.

David: Your few scientists are three or four in number.

Why don’t you just google “cellular intelligence” if you want to find more names? Wikipedia will help, and the article doesn’t even mention McClintock, Margulis, Buehler or Shapiro.
Microbial intelligence - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microbial_intelligence

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.

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

You have missed the point. Egnor asks how consciousness could evolve. I can only repeat that evolve is not the same as originate. Consciousness has evolved, just like physical organisms, from the comparatively simple to the extremely complex, and that applies whether you are a dualist or a materialist.

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.

DAVID: 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.

Natural selection determines what survives and what doesn’t survive. Do you really doubt that our level of consciousness and intelligence has enabled us so far to survive better than many other species?

DAVID: (under “our unique speech mechanism”) […] My thought is that we were given such a complex brain, as words and their meanings developed brain plasticity developed the proper listening mechanism, basically learn by use.

Not sure about “given”, but otherwise I agree. Both the brain and the body learn and change by use. They do not change in advance of learning and use.

Under “Introducing the brain”:
QUOTE: "'All brain activity that does not (sufficiently) involve L5p neurons remains unconscious,' predicts Aru. Therein lies the key to testing this exciting theory."

DAVID: Note this discussion does not differentiate between awareness, the terribly difficult problem of consciousness self-awareness, and simple awareness of various stimuli.

Nor does it tell us anything about the origin of consciousness. All we have is certain neurons connecting different parts of the brain, and if they are not working, we are not conscious. For a layman, it’s like saying if the brain is functioning fully, we are conscious, but if some parts are not functioning fully, we are not conscious. I don’t know why this constitutes an exciting theory.


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