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

  • Whit Blauvelt

    May 10, 2023 at 3:13 pm


    You question whether a scientific experiment can demonstrate the reality of the physical? Do you have an example of a scientific experiment which does not presuppose that reality? Presupposing the reality of the physical allows us to do science. That science demonstrates high accuracy in predicting the outcomes of experiments which themselves presuppose the reality of the physical.

    If reality were merely a conscious dream, and the physical unreal, the repeatable accuracy of scientific results which presuppose the reality of the physical would be nearly impossible to explain. After all, when we dream, everything in the our dreams is in flux, without the reliable consistency we find in the physical world. Clearly, the physical world is more than a dream.

    That science works so well as it does in so many areas, given that it starts by presupposing the reality of the physical, means that every useful result of science is evidence towards proving the reality of the physical. This does not show there’s nothing in reality beyond the physical, nor that entities with a physical aspect may not also have a non-physical aspect, as in dual-aspect monist theories.

    But to deny the reality of the physical is to deny the very possibility of science. Yet, we have science. McGilchrist’s books have more pages devoted to science than to more RH claims which point beyond it. I very much share his conviction that those RH claims are “substantial.” Yet, he also states repeatedly that the LH does real and valuable work, including especially large parts of science. His goal for us would seem to be to bring the LH back into harmony with the RH’s larger perspective, not to exile the LH, nor science, nor science’s appreciation of physicality.