Consciousness: Dennett says it is an illusion (General)

by dhw, Monday, October 21, 2019, 14:10 (99 days ago) @ David Turell

The first part of David’s post repeats the discussion under “David’s theory of evolution”, where it really belongs. Even this post has left its original subject behind, since we are dealing with Egnor, not Dennett,but we may as well carry on now.

dhw: Why don’t you answer the question I have bolded above? [“Do you believe that ape consciousness, which is manifestly more complex than, say, that of earthworms or houseflies, did not evolve from earlier conscious states”?]

DAVID: I have answered it. Brains involved enough complexity to receive consciousness, of which awareness is a very small portion compared to the ideation which full human consciousness allows, present in no other organism.

dhw: A statement of your beliefs concerning human consciousness is no answer to the question whether you believe that more complex forms of consciousness, as in apes, evolved from less complex forms, as in houseflies.

DAVID: Complex consciousness requires a complex brain. That is what evolved, the material brain, not consciousness.

I think most people would agree that our own consciousness is more complex than that of the apes. You don’t tell us that the “difference” is the more complex brain, but you pin-point major advances, such as self-awareness and conceptualization. I think most people would also assume that ape consciousness is more complex than, for example, housefly consciousness – or, if you like, that apes are more conscious than houseflies. Of course the brain has evolved, but regardless of whether the brain is the producer of consciousness (materialism) or its receiver (dualism), do you deny that consciousness has developed from comparatively simple beginnings to its current complexities? That, if you believe in common descent, = evolution.

dhw: So do you think the English language is the same as it was a few hundred years ago? Of course it isn’t. Our anatomy hasn’t changed, but our language has evolved – and that is an example of something non-physical that can evolve. Egnor’s basic premise “only something physical can evolve” is manifestly untrue. And if you would kindly answer my bolded question, I’m sure you will agree.

DAVID: No language is improved as we learn to use our brain. The key is what the brain can allow us to create. The complexity of the brain allows us to create language. Brain first, language second, something you refuse to see or accept.

You are missing the point. Language evolves, as do social norms, moral codes, philosophies, religions, even though they are all immaterial products of our consciousness, regardless of whether the brain is the producer of consciousness or its receiver. That is why I am disputing Egnor’s claim, also bolded above.

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