Consciousness: Dennett says it is an illusion (General)

by dhw, Thursday, October 10, 2019, 10:03 (8 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: You continue to pretend that there is a difference between being conscious and having consciousness. There is a vast difference, which I have always acknowledged, between other animals’ level of consciousness and our own. That does not mean “consciousness did not have simple beginnings, but appeared all by itself in humans.” On the contrary, your contrast between monkey consciousness and our own makes it crystal clear that ours was preceded by simpler forms, and your comment is doubly absurd coming from someone who believes in common descent.

DAVID: You forget I believe in common descent as controlled by God. And now you admit to consciousness as an enormous difference while still implying to deny it. See the bold below that says we do not know "how consciousness appeared". Stop smudging the conscious/consciousness difference.

“As controlled by God” has nothing to do with it, since conscious animals preceded conscious humans anyway, and it is therefore absurd to say that “consciousness appeared all by itself in humans.” Please stop pretending that there is a difference between being conscious and having consciousness. The difference lies in levels of consciousness between our fellow animals and ourselves.

DAVID: Egnor is correct. Evolution does not explain how or why consciousness appeared, and only in our brain. […]

dhw: We have agreed […] that nobody knows the origin of consciousness, and so of course evolution does not explain how consciousness appeared. That is what I told you, and you said it was a truism. I didn't know Egnor believed that no animal with a brain was conscious/had consciousness. You yourself have said repeatedly that animals ARE conscious, so consciousness did not appear “only in our brain”.

dhw: […] we are now discussing Egnor’s question: “..if consciousness is non-physical, how could it evolve? Darwinian natural selection can only act on a physical attribute”.

DAVID: I view Egnor as asking where did immaterial consciousness come from, since material evolution cannot create it. A reasonable point, hence my answer that the brain develops to a point where it can receive it from God.

And I keep pointing out that nobody knows the origin of consciousness. However if the SOURCE is the material brain, then we can say the source of consciousness evolved because the first cells did not have brains. If the SOURCE is immaterial, then the source did not evolve. Regardless of which belief you hold – materialist or dualist – consciousness itself HAS evolved from comparatively simple beginnings to current complexities. And clearly human complexities of consciousness have increased our ability to survive, which means that Darwinian natural selection applies just as much to immaterial elements of existence as to physical. You can hardly deny that immaterial language, moral and social codes, philosophies, religions all evolve, so why claim that consciousness itself has not done so, since even you agree that animals are conscious but not as conscious as us!

DAVID: […] I don't believe consciousness evolved but was received.

Your beliefs are subsumed under dualism, as above.


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