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Bo102010 comments on Dennett's heterophenomenology - Less Wrong

5 Post author: RichardKennaway 16 January 2010 08:40PM

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Comment author: Bo102010 17 January 2010 03:58:14AM 2 points [-]

Perhaps it would be instructive to think for a moment about why these people, who probably experience the world just as well as you do, have come to accept proposed explanations of consciousness.

It would also be nice if you'd engage these proposed explanations instead of saying that anyone who disagrees is in denial.

Dennet clearly thinks a lot about why other people think that qualia are real things that must be explained. He also makes it a point of engaging these intuitions and showing that they often fall apart under scrutiny rather than assuming that somehow they all must be correct.

Comment author: Nubulous 17 January 2010 08:00:09AM 0 points [-]

The only proposed explanation of consciousness I've seen on Less Wrong is "maybe if we arrange stuff in the right way, consciousness will happen". Even if true, it's not enough of an explanation to enable argument about it.

Dennet

Dennett presents a resolutely functionalist description of experience, then tells us that nothing resembling qualia can be found within it, to the great surprise of no-one at all.

think that qualia are real things

To believe that the phenomenal world, the world you actually live in, is a fiction, while an invented "physical" world, for which no evidence exists, is the real world, is not merely wrong, it's an irrationality which makes a complete mockery of the goals of this website.

Comment author: timtyler 17 January 2010 10:47:44AM 4 points [-]

There is evidence that the "real" world exists, for most reasonable uses of the term "evidence".

Comment author: Nubulous 18 January 2010 09:50:25AM -1 points [-]

Evidence implies observation. Observation implies conscious experience. So your evidence for a world independent of conscious experience turns out to be ... conscious experience. I expect you can see why that isn't going to work.

Comment author: timtyler 18 January 2010 06:30:29PM *  4 points [-]

No, I can't. Conscious experience is our evidence for the existence of the real world.

The hypothesis that the real world exists seems favoured heavily by Occam's razor.

If there was no world out there, life would probably be a lot more like dreaming is.

Comment author: RobinZ 18 January 2010 04:26:02PM 0 points [-]

In what sense does this "not work"? All of modern technology was designed and constructed under the paradigm that there is a world independent of conscious experience - the competing framework has produced bupkis.

Comment author: JanetK 17 January 2010 11:39:43AM 3 points [-]

“To believe that the phenomenal world, the world you actually live in, is a fiction, while an invented "physical" world, for which no evidence exists, is the real world, is not merely wrong, it's an irrationality which makes a complete mockery of the goals of this website.”

This seems to be the root of the problem. How do you start to argue with this statement? Why would anyone choose the map rather than the territory as their foundation? Why engage in science if you are not willing to accept the inferences that it makes about reality? Am I not going to believe in atoms because it doesn't match what I see with my eyes? If there is no evidence of the physical world then why don't you walk through walls? Do you have any explanations of illusions? Talk about making a mockery of rationality!

If we want to be rational then lets start with: consciousness is real and important but not yet explained by science, however we assume (at least for now) that the explanation is possible in materialistic terms. We can make this assumption because science is making steady progress in understanding brain function, (starting a decade or so ago) and when science makes steady progress it usually ends up with an explanation in materialistic terms.

Comment author: Nick_Tarleton 17 January 2010 06:22:03PM 5 points [-]

Why would anyone choose the map rather than the territory as their foundation? Why engage in science if you are not willing to accept the inferences that it makes about reality? Am I not going to believe in atoms because it doesn't match what I see with my eyes? If there is no evidence of the physical world then why don't you walk through walls? Do you have any explanations of illusions? Talk about making a mockery of rationality!

The parent post may have been exaggerating a bit; in any case, its basic point is right. We have to start with the map; we don't have direct access to the territory. We believe in physical reality and atoms because they seem to explain our experiences well. It's not naive realism or idealism to point this out.

Comment author: RobinZ 18 January 2010 01:23:48AM 2 points [-]

But by that interpretation the remark has no bearing on Dennett's philosophy. In this way Nubulous's statement is a sort of deepity (to use a term which Dennett invented): it hides between two meanings, a trivial but true one, and a revolutionary but false one.

Comment author: Nubulous 18 January 2010 11:42:21AM 0 points [-]

Why would anyone choose the map rather than the territory as their foundation?

I couldn't agree more, which is why I was attempting to discourage people from doing so.

Why engage in science if you are not willing to accept the inferences that it makes about reality? Am I not going to believe in atoms because it doesn't match what I see with my eyes?

But the justification for any physical theory is precisely that it predicts what you see with your own eyes. Indeed, that's what a physical theory is - a means of predicting what you will experience. Atoms, as a feature of such a theory, seem quite useful and worth "believing" in.

Do you have any explanations of illusions?

Illusions are when your theory of what you should experience breaks down, and produces wrong answers.

when science makes steady progress it usually ends up with an explanation in materialistic terms.

But as I pointed out above, physics is not materialist, so your claim is untrue.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 18 January 2010 11:21:15PM *  1 point [-]

Dennet clearly thinks a lot about why other people think that qualia are real things that must be explained.

Indeed -- the debate runs and runs, nearly two decades on from the original book. I do not think the conflict will be resolved soon (and if it is, it won't be in the pages of philosophical journals).

He also makes it a point of engaging these intuitions

Yes, and that is good.

and showing that they often fall apart under scrutiny rather than assuming that somehow they all must be correct.

What falls apart is the explanations people try to give of the experience.