Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

RichardKennaway comments on Dennett's "Consciousness Explained": Prelude - Less Wrong

12 Post author: PhilGoetz 10 January 2010 07:31AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (97)

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 10 January 2010 09:08:52PM -3 points [-]

Heterophenomenology does tackle that question, just at one remove - it attempts to account for your reports of those inner sensations.

It does so in terms making no reference to those inner sensations. Heterophenomenology is a lot more than the idea that first-person reports of inner experience are something to be explained, rather than taken as direct reports of the truth. It -- Dennett -- requires that such reports be explained without reference to inner experience. Heterophenomenology is the view that we are all p-zombies.

It avoids the argument that a distinction between conscious beings and p-zombies makes no sense, by denying that there are conscious beings. There is no inner experience to be explained. Zombie World is this world. Consciousness is not extra-physical, but non-existent. It is consciousness that is absurd, not p-zombies.

You do not exist. I do not exist. There are no persons, no selves, no experiences. There are reports of these things, but nothing that they are reports about. In such reports nothing is true, all is a lie.

Physics revealed the universe to be meaningless. Biology and palaeontology revealed our creation to be meaningless. Now, neuroscience reveals that we are meaningless.

Such, at any rate, is my understanding of Dennett's book.

Comment author: ciphergoth 11 January 2010 08:57:10AM *  1 point [-]

Heterophenomenology is a lot more than the idea that first-person reports of inner experience are something to be explained, rather than taken as direct reports of the truth. It -- Dennett -- requires that such reports be explained without reference to inner experience.

This is the exact opposite of my understanding, which is that heterophenomenology itself sets out only what it is that is to be accounted for and is entirely neutral on what the account might be.

Comment author: pdf23ds 11 January 2010 04:18:26AM 1 point [-]

It -- Dennett -- requires that such reports be explained without reference to inner experience.

Sure.

Heterophenomenology is the view that we are all p-zombies.

Doesn't follow. H17y can be seen as simply a first, more tractable step on the way to solving the hard problem. Perhaps others would agree with your statement, but I don't believe Dennett would.

Comment author: Morendil 10 January 2010 10:14:36PM 0 points [-]

A flawed understanding, then. Dennett certainly does not deny the existence of selves, or of persons. What he does assert is that "self" is something of a different category from the primary elements of our current physics' ontology (particles, etc.). His analogy is to a "center of gravity" - a notional object, but "real" in the sense of what you take it to be definitely makes a difference in what you predict will happen.