Wednesday, July 05, 2023

The silliest claim ever made

 What is the silliest claim ever made? The competition is fierce, but I think the answer is easy. Some people have denied the existence of consciousness: conscious experience, the subjective character of experience, the “what-it-is-like” of experience. Next to this denial—I’ll call it “the Denial”—every known religious belief is only a little less sensible than the belief that grass is green.

-Galen Strawson


StardustyPsyche said...

Right, the experience of consciousness is an actual experience, it must be, because I am experiencing it.

To say that "consciousness is an illusion" is often misinterpreted as meaning "there is no actual perception of consciousness", which would be silly, but that is not what is meant.

Consciousness is an illusion a bit like solidity is an illusion. A piece of metal seems very solid. Cut it with a saw, for example, and it seems to be homogeneous and continuous in material extent through space. But we now know that is an illusion, a very real seeming but also very erroneous illusion. That solid piece of metal is mostly empty space, and what little stuff there actually is in it is vibrating and moving around madly

Consciousness is not real in the sense that free will is not real. It would be silly to assert that these experiences somehow are not actual experiences, they must be, I experience myself experiencing these experiences. But there is no requirement that my experiences must be accurate indications of the underlying reality they seem to indicate.

Consciousness does not exist, in the sense that running does not exist. Can you weigh running? Can you put some running in a bottle for me please? Where is running? If there are no animals about can running just sort of float around in space all by itself?

Like running, consciousness is a process of material, not an existent thing, not an object or a material with an independent ontological realization of its own.

"What is the silliest claim ever made?"
That's easy, the willfully absurd strawman characterizations of materialism made by theists.

Victor Reppert said...

Galen Strawson is not a theist.

StardustyPsyche said...

He's a professional philosopher, which is almost as bad :-)