Reply To: Daniel Dennet's claim that consciousness is an illusion

  • Don Salmon

    May 7, 2023 at 7:18 pm

    Hi Zak,

    Thanks for both videos.

    Regarding Dennett, I think David Chalmers provided the clearest rebuttal to Dennett and the other extreme fundamaterialists. He said there’s not really a hard problem of consciousness, there’s a hard problem of matter.

    And since we’ve known for 100 years that matter is not fundamental, here’s the real hard problem:

    What does “physical” mean – and why should we eve believe in it, when there’s no possible way to provide even one bit of scientific evidence that such a concept has any connection with anything that exists?

    All we know directly is consciousness – and no scientific experiment requires the postulate of some purely, mind-independent “stuff” that we abstractly conceive of as “physical.”

    This to me eliminates about 95% of the theories of consciousness that exist today.

    If anyone here can come up with a scientific experiment that shows that something purely material could possibly exist apart from any consciousness (I don’t mean human – I mean a consciousness that is co-extensive with AND transcendent to the physical universe), I’d love to hear the details.

    By the way I just sent this challenge to Dennis Overbye, a long-time science writer for the NY Times. He wrote back a very pleasant response and concluded that whatever else there is, he is convinced there is something that exists outside his head – thereby equating consciousness, as Dennett does, with something produced by the brain.

    But we only know of the brain, as with anything physical, via consciousness, so this is circular reasoning. So I again must caution – I’m speaking of consciousness that is co-extensive with and transcendent to the physical universe.

    Thanks for any suggestions for a scientific experiment that would provide such evidence for anything purely “physical.” (I’d love a definition too, if you can!)