Consciousness: Dennett says it is an illusion (General)

by dhw, Friday, October 11, 2019, 13:13 (301 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: 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. [dhw's despairing bold]

DAVID: I do not accept that consciousness exists in animals below humans. They do not have self-awareness or do they conceptualize. There is no gradation as you try tp imply. Why is ehre a hard problem to understand it?

You continue to argue that although you agree that “yes, humans are conscious like all other animals with a brain” they are not conscious, because consciousness means having self-awareness and the ability to conceptualize. No it doesn’t. Self-awareness and conceptualization etc. are attributes of human consciousness, and you are making a mockery of language. I have not used the word “gradation”, which implies small changes. I have repeatedly agreed that there is a vast difference between animal levels and our own.

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”.

dhw: Regardless of which belief you hold – materialist or dualist – consciousness itself HAS evolved from comparatively simple beginnings to current complexities.

DAVID: The bold above is how you smudge the problem of how consciousness appeared. The fact that consciousness evolves in its abilities does not mean it evolved materially. It only means we learned how to use it.
And later:
DAVID: You claim you are caught between materialism and dualism without a choice. Evolving consciousness as you try to do is pure materialism. That is the side you argue from.

When I say nobody knows the origin of consciousness, I mean nobody knows how consciousness appeared. We agree. Thank you for acknowledging that consciousness evolves in its abilities. We agree. I listed other examples of non-material evolution, which I presume you also accept, and which have also evolved from comparatively simple beginnings to current complexities. Of course something immaterial cannot evolve materially (we agree), which is why I have distinguished between the two schools of thought: 1) materialism, in which the SOURCE of consciousness (the brain, if we are to discount brainless organisms, though I do not) came about through evolution, since the earliest life forms did not have brains, and 2) dualism, in which the SOURCE of consciousness is an unknown, immaterial being we call God, and which did not evolve. I do not support or oppose either of these theories, so I don’t know why you think I am supporting materialism. Nor do I know why you think, say, ant consciousness and human consciousness do not represent evolution from the comparatively simple to the comparatively complex, no matter how consciousness originated. Nor do I know why you think ant consciousness (an awareness of problems and how to set about trying to solve them) as well as our own complex consciousness have not been aids to survival, in keeping with Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

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