On 4/27/2012 5:26 PM, David Nyman wrote:
On 27 April 2012 21:16, meekerdb<meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
And the EV is supposed to be analgous to qualia? But that paralell
doens;t work. The EV is dismissable
because there was never prima facie evidence for it.
Then why was it widely believed to exist?...because somethings were alive
and other seemingly identical things weren't.
Peter and I are of course making the same point. I agree that, at the
outset, "life" and "consciousness" display an appealing explanatory
symmetry, in that we can seek an reductive account of both in terms of
constituent processes. But that apparent symmetry fractures on closer
analysis. The more that putatively "conscious processes" can be shown
to be so reducible, the more this highlights the explanatory
redundancy of the entire class of first-person phenomena. In the case
of "life", it is surely obvious that we need anticipate no conceptual
residue after explanatory reduction. But the troublesome resistance of
first-personal phenomena to such reductive elimination is equally
manifest to all who can suppress the urge to bolt for the denialist
Precisely because this point is indeed so obvious, and because I've
never felt that you are personally of the eliminativist persuasion, I
fail to understand why you persist in presenting the putative
equivalence of these two concepts as though it were unproblematic.
I'm puzzled as to exactly what is your point. Is it your hope that a
sufficiently sophisticated understanding of the physical correlates of
conscious behaviour will somehow dissolve the presently intractable
distinction between third and first-personal accounts of consciousness
in some conceptually utterly novel way? Or do you anticipate that we
might just settle for a sufficiently rich articulation of "conscious
behaviours" as a closing of the conceptual account?
Something like the latter. When you ask for an explanation of something, you need to have
in mind some terms that would satisfy that request. They need to be something you
understand better than the thing to be explained. They need to provide you with
manipulative or at least predictive power. Otherwise they are just inventing names for
things (like Craig's 'senses'). Once you have that, you feel you have an explanation. What
you refer to as an 'intractable distinction' is no more intractable than the question
asked of Newton as to how gravity pushed on the planets. When you study physics and
engineering you learn pretty quickly that questions about 'How does it do that' bottom
out. At some level, now QFT or GR, it just does. Everybody who isn't a physicist or
engineer, thinks, "Oh those physicists and engineers have got it figured out." No, they
don't. They've got good working models. So what I mean is that in the end that's the best
you can do - have a good working model. And when we have a good working model of
consciousness, we'll have bypassed the 'hard problem'.
The sciences do not try to explain, they hardly even try to interpret, they mainly make
models. By a model is meant a mathematical construct which, with the addition of certain
verbal interpretations, describes observed phenomena. The justification of such a
mathematical construct is solely and precisely that it is expected to work.
--—John von Neumann
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