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

  • Mike Todd

    May 10, 2023 at 8:11 am

    My first post – be gentle.<div>
    </div><div>I can’t understand why many people consider Dennett an impressive thinker. To be fair, I haven’t yet had the pleasure of Consciousness Explained, though I may get around to it one day if my reading list comes up short. As for the video, is that really the best he can do? Demonstrating limitations in the human perceptual system in no way undermines consciousness per se; lampooning “what we are conscious of” leaves “that we are conscious” entirely unscathed. More pointedly, it’s arguably the case that our perceptions are in some sense illusory, and I think Donald Hoffman’s approach, explored in The Case Against Reality, is far more compelling (and radical) than Dennett’s rather unremarkable show-and-tell. But again, showing that we are in some sense misled by what we perceive falls far short of showing that we are therefore also misled *that* we perceive, and to suggest otherwise is in the ballpark of category error.</div><div>
    </div><div>Does anyone else feel as though metaphysical materialists, and so-called illusionists in particular, often appear to conflate consciousness with its contents – as if thoughts, feelings and perceptions were the whole story? As I’m sure you may be aware, there’s a growing body of research into meditative “pure awareness” experiences, transcribing the tales of monks and other seasoned travellers to the far-off country where there is neither space nor time nor any trace of self or mind save awareness of awareness. Do the consciousness-deniers have any comments to make about that? No doubt my question makes obvious my innocence in all this, but I also ask from a place of personal interest: I’ve been a daily meditator for some time now and am always looking to expand my learning in that area.</div>