• Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    but logic* as a field does not present an argument or a justification of itself.
    — SophistiCat

    This would be true if logic were, magically, its own interpretative base
    — Constance

    That's the opposite of what I said.

    Apologies for that.

    What do you think the thesis of physicalism is? I don't think there is a single generally recognized physicalist doctrine. It is more of a family resemblance among philosophical treatments of certain subjects.SophistiCat

    I think of Quine's naturalism, and then this simple notion: where is the epistemic connectivity? The more a theory moves to make this happen, the more one moves into things that compromise the essential idea. I am open to the way this might work, but I can't imagine any defensible physicalist epistemology that hasn't redefined what the physical is. It would have to be a compromise toward phenomenology, and then, such a compromise must lean, with emphasis, toward the phenomenon: after all, all one ever witnesses, and all that is possible to witness, is phenomena.

    That's hardly even a caricature of physicalism. No one would say that you are "seeing brain states" when you look at something.SophistiCat

    Then I am gratified you are here to disabuse me. I won't ask for a thesis, just the essential idea you have in mind.

    Well, I was hoping to find out more about "this matter" (not so much about phenomenology), but I am making no progress in teasing it out.SophistiCat

    I referred to that quote of Rorty's. The "matter" is getting over the problem of epistemic distance between an agency with knowledge claims and the world that these knowledge claims are about. Phenomenology closes this distance by makes the object an intuitive presence, leaving the matter of the nature of intuition in play, that is, debatable. To go further than this would require a great deal of writing, but it suffices here to say, what I call the bottom line of all philosophical inquiry is what is given in the world. To move beyond this closes in on bad metaphysics.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    That's why I introduced the distinction between 'phenomena' and 'noumena', and pointing out that there's a fundamental distinction made in philosophy between the sensory and rational faculties, which I understand still exists in Husserl, although I'm not conversant with the details. But your statement basically seems to state that the world is as it appears, on face value, which I'm sure is not what you mean.Wayfarer

    Face value begs the question, what is there on its "face"?

    Husserl's "Ideas" is all about, of course, ideas. Eidetic seeing is his first order of business. Do universals exist? I am reminded of Hegel: when I say, the boat is over there! "there" is a universal, and the over-there-ness is literally IN the reference. But is this "seen" empirically? Obviously no; but the object/affairs before you are not merely empirical. What is there Husserl calls "essences". He implicitly invites one to stare at an object, and pay attention to what is there that is in the structure of being there, and claims a kind of "seeing" is possible regarding essences. If you think this is hard to do, you're not alone. But this is the only way to responsibly approach what is before you. One has to look "away' from the physical presence, and toward the inwardness where the understanding is engaged, and this is an important part of this thinking: Essences are "intuitively objective", says Husserl, and they can be "seen" as intuitive presences. Two difference colors cannot occupy the same space and you know this through intuition of what is intimated in "space," "the same," and so forth. Clearly, Husserl is following through on Hegel's "rational realism" as is Heidegger: rationality, concepts, cognition, understanding, and the like, simply cannot be conceived independently of the actualities of the world. To do so makes for an ontology of abstraction. But, just to make a point, concepts are "open", determinative in their being part of the structure of what is there, but open to possibilities. The question then is, what is it that is THERE. Can one really "see" thought? One can only address this by going to the only place one can go, to the presence of thought, and this is a phenomenological move.

    And noumena is there, baldly stated. Where else could the term be grounded? It is, and the Buddhist or Hindu would put it, always, already in the "there"; "palpable" metaphysics is the palpable indeterminacy of our existence that is made clear "through" the pragmatic discursivity of thought and phenomenology in its commitment to a being-appearance identity. This is where, I argue, Husserl's (and his progeny's) epoche takes inquiry.

    This is the way I ground all philosophical questions. What is God? Reduce the term to its material grounding. What is there, in the world, that makes this term at all meaningful? The indeterminacy of ethics. What is ethics? This goes to a phenomenological analysis of the essence of ethics-in-the-world.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    but logic* as a field does not present an argument or a justification of itself.SophistiCat

    This would be true if logic were, magically, its own interpretative base, as if the intuitive apociticity of modus ponens or De Morgan's theorum were what it is AS it is presented to us in language. But language is not, itself, apodictic. Like causality: there is an intuition that is absolute regarding objects moving spontaneously which says, no. But then, the language and its terms is a historical construct. One would have to show how terms themselves are absolutes.

    (I don't want to derail this conversation further, but if you are interested, Feynman (who rather disparaged philosophy as a discipline) has a good philosophical discussion of the nature of force and its treatment in physics in his Lectures: Characteristics of Force. (I dare say, this is more useful than Timaeus.) He sort of agrees with you.)SophistiCat

    Perhaps I will look it up. But the argument I am pressing here comes from general thinking inspired by Husserl, Heidegger, Derrida and others.
    What paradox?SophistiCat

    I first put this out there to show how physicalism as a naive thesis, lacks epistemic essence. That is, there is nothing in it that allows for anyone to know anything at all. I see my cat and I am thereby forced to admit I am reductively seeing brain states only. Only brains states are no longer brains states, for language itself, including expressions like 'brain states' is "something else" which is unnamable, and this is not all wrong, of course, because, physicalist model aside, all analytic avenues lead to this radical indeterminacy (as with Wittgenstein). It is just that here, there can be no "out there" IN the model. Phenomenology takes the "out there" of objects (or the "otherness" of what is outside of myself) and leaves this openness as a feature of our existence. Where Kant thought noumena as an impossible "other" and simply a postulatory necessity, phenomenology can see this as In the presence of the being of the world.

    Ideas about physical brains are fine in contexts of the everydayness and sciences where they meaningfully are found. But take this to basic philosophical questions, and there is no way to reconcile knowledge claims about the world with foundational physicalist descriptions. One ends up with the paradox of having an encounter with things out there, like trees and fence posts, and having no way to epistemically reach them: the tree is out, not me; and yet, it isn't, for all out thereness is confined to physicality. Rorty put it like this: One no more has knowledge of an outside world (in the context of basic assumptions discussed here) than a dented car fender has knowledge of the offending guard rail.

    Phenomenology remedies this matter, I argue.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    A footnote on "phenomena" - in classical philosophy "phenomena" was part of a pair, the other term being "noumena", "Phenomena" referring to "how things appear" or the domain of appearances.

    The meaning of "noumena" is complex, especially because it is now generally associated with Kant's usage, which was very much his own. Schopenhauer accused Kant of appopriating the term for his purposes without proper regard to its prior meaning for Greek and Scholastic philosophy (ref, and a criticism which I think is justified). The original meaning of "noumenal" was derived from the root "nous" (intellect) - hence "the noumenal" was an "object of intellect" - something directly grasped by reason, as distinct from by sensory apprehension. It ultimately goes back to the supposed "higher" reality of the intelligible Forms in Platonism.

    In traditional philosophy, this manifested as the distinction between "how things truly are", which was discernable by the intellect, and "how they appear". This was the major subject of idealist philosophy (e.g. F. H. Bradley's famous Appearance and Reality). In this context, "appearance" was invariably deprecated as "the shadows on the wall of Plato's cave".

    The emphasis on "phenomena" in phenomenology begins with the focus on the lived experience of the subject as distinct from the conceptual abstractions and emphasis on the object which was typical of scientific analysis and positivism. "Phenomenology is...a particular approach which was adopted and subsequently modified by writers, beginning with Husserl, who wanted to reaffirm and describe their ‘being in the world’ as an alternative way to human knowledge, rather than objectification of so-called positivist science. Paul Ricoeur referred to phenomenological research as “the descriptive study of the essential features of experience taken as a whole” and a little later, stated that it “has always been an investigation into the structures of experience which precede connected expression in language. (ref)”

    This emphasis on the subject (not on "subjectivity"!) eventually gives rise to Heidegger's 'dasein' and to the school of embodied cognition and enactivism which is still very prominent. You could paraphrase it as "naturalism is the study of what you see looking out the window. Phenomenology is a study of you looking out the window."

    @Constance - in respect of the 'reflexive paradox' you might have a look at It Is Never Known but it is the Knower (.pdf) by Michel Bitbol. He is also French but his work is much more relevant to 'the hard problem of consciousness' than Jacques Derrida in my opinion. ;-)

    There is nothing in this post that suggests arithmetic is outside phenomenology's purview, that i can find. And Bitboll is not entirely right in his thinking. Michel Henry is much more rigorous:

    Phenomenology rests on four principles which it explicitly claims as its foundations. The first—“so much appearance, so much being”—is borrowed from the Marburg School. Over against this ambiguous proposition, owing to the double signification of the term “appearance,” we prefer this strict wording: “so much appearing, so much being.”1 The second is the principle of principles. Formulated by Husserl himself in §24 of Ideen I, it sets forth intuition or, more precisely, “that every originary presentive intuition is a legitimizing source of cognition”2 and thus for any particularly rational statement. In the third principle, the claim is so vehement that it clothes itself in the allure of an exhortation, even a cry: “zu den Sachen selbst!” The fourth principle was defined considerably later by Jean-Luc Marion in his work Reduction and Givenness, but its importance hits upon the entirety of phenomenological development as a hidden presupposition that is always already at work. It is formulated thus: “so much reduction, so much givenness.”

    Notice how phenomenology is a method of discovery and analysis. It provides a foundational position for doing philosophy: the givenness of the world, vis a vis being.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    No, I don't find the analogy with logic any more clear. Anything can be the subject of a discourse, including logic. At the same time, as you note, logic structures discourse. But I don't see a vicious circularity here, if that is what you are leading to. You cannot ground or justify logic with more logic - that much is clear. But you are talking about the very possibility of discoursing (logically) about logic, and I don't see a problem with that.SophistiCat

    And there is none. What you talk about is the very reason why we have the discipline called logic. the point I am making is that this field is question begging in the same way physics is question begging when it talks about, say, force. They talk about and use this term freely and make perfect sense, usually, but ask what a force is, and you will get blank stares; well, at first you will get explanatory attempts that contextualize the meaning, by when you get to "where the ideas run out" as Putnam put it, it has to be acknowledged that physics hasn't a clue as to the "true nature" of force. Go to something like Plato's Timaeus and you find some intriguing inroads, but mostly pretty useless.

    Anyway, logic is what it is, and if you don't ask pesky foundational questions, then you will not encounter the issue. But regarding the hard problem of consciousness, this IS the hard part. Perhaps not the way Chalmers puts it, but so what. Explaining conscious philosophically takes you all the way down the rabbit hole, right to the language embeddedness of the term, and if you can't ground language, you can't ground logic in a non question begging way. Derrida argues that the whole lot of it is question begging, at the level of foundational discussion. Philosophy "ends" here, at language and its existential counterpart, existence.

    Well, then you do deny the premise, and that's that. You cannot make an argument against a contrary position without first taking it on its own terms. If you deny the position outright, or, as you admit, don't even understand it, then there is no argument to be made.SophistiCat

    The contrary position here appears at the most basic level of analysis, and this would be the interpretative foundation provided by a phenomenological pov. All things are in play, but one has to find the context of play. Wittgenstein very seriously (he was pathologically serious) said that ethics, being, aesthetics, logic are mystical., but he refused to elaborate because as he saw, language has no business doing this. He was wrong and right: Wrong because there is a LOT one can say, and right because obviously, one cannot speak what lies outside the totality of language possibilities. He, by inference, believed what I believe, that the world IS metaphysics. My cat and my morning coffee.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    Simple arithmetic would do. That doesn't belong in the phenomenal domain.Wayfarer

    Well, yes and no. Everything belongs there because that is all that is given, but this doesn't mean all that is given is interpretatively clear. Givenness has a transcendental horizon, an "openness", and its interpretative values are not governed by an extraneous idea, a metaphysics like material substance.

    When one does arithmetic, and stops to observe what is there, not referring to neuronal activity, evolutionary modeling of adaptive functions, and the rest, one is being a phenomenological "scientist". Kant was the grandfather of phenomenology, they say.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    Simple arithmetic would do. That doesn't belong in the phenomenal domain.Wayfarer

    Doesn't it? Not clear. Why not?
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?

    I did rather [email protected]#$ up the quotes. Thought it would work, but it didn't.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    I am not following your argument. I am stuck at "one simply can't get beyond the brain-itself-as-phenomenon, for to affirm a brain as not a phenomenon, one would have to stand apart from a phenomena." Can you expand on this?SophistiCat

    I thought the analogy of logic clear. Tell me, what is logic? Note that whatever you say is going to have its meaning framed in logic. It would be question begging: if your conclusion is a logical entity, then you have simply assumed to be true, statements about the nature of logic, the very thing your are inquiring about. Of course, there is the alternative that you are simply accepting logic as what it is, and see, as, say, Rorty did, that there is no "outside" of this matrix of logic that can be conceived, and therefore one has to pass over this in silence, and I qualifiedly agree. But one would have to get by Heidegger: logic is a term, a taking up the world "as", and as such it faces foundational indeterminacy, which is what I defend. This is metaphysics.

    [/quote] Is it that you are committed to the idea that "everything is a phenomenon," and therefore there is no such "thing" as a brain? If so, then you are merely denying the premise. The only contradiction here is between the premise "the brain is the generative source of consciousness" and your commitment to phenomenology.[/quote]

    I don't see how, at the level of basic questions, anything can be posited that is not phenomena. How does one step out of, in a broad sense of the term, experience? Tell me this, and perhaps I will change my mind.

    [/quote]Or: How can consciousness position itself to "see" consciousness in order to discuss what it is?

    I don't see a problem here. Is it self-reference that is giving you difficulty? Self-reference is not necessarily paradoxical.[/quote]

    Not self referencing, but a brain setting of self referencing. Phenomenology simply notes that all there is to refer to is phenomena, that referring, believing, anticipating, wondering, and the rest are all phenomenologically encountered. That encountering is phenomenological. What isn't? And don't get me wrong, I really want to know how this works.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    I thought Hagel said becoming is primal and being and nothing emerge from it on analysis.frank

    I think it is important to see that he is called a rational realist for a good reason: What is determinative as to being is the semantic embeddedness of conflict in concepts. I think of Hegel, then I think of Derrida, argued that there is no singularity of a concept as in some direct reference to a thing. Rather, terms are inherently other that what they "are", meaning a cup on the table is, as a cup, deeply contextual, such that one thinks of the cup and there is, always, already there, what is not a cup. Husserl referred to regions of ideas that gather when something is brought up, like when you observe a man on the street, implicit to this singularity is latent, associated thoughts about people, streets, and so on. There is a lot that implicitly "attends" seeing the man on the street, and this is part of the structure of the seeing.

    Being and nothingness have to understood like this, is my understanding. On the one hand look at the world as palpable existence that is present, and you really get none of this, says Kierkegaard. But look at it as a rational real, like Hegel, and concepts are now real, and meaning is real, and meanings are, like the cup above, not singular, but possess inherent "self sublations" that are divergent, agreeing, contradicting, preserving, and so on. Becoming is this inner dialectic of self sublating meaning.

    I did have to look this up for the details. I see how becoming can be primal in that we are in our current historical setting, all we can conceive of is "of" becoming because we are, after all, in the middle of this dialectical sublation. Becoming, being and nothing are a unity, the "beginning" of which is not historical, but real/conceptual (though, of course, historical processes are the dialectical becoming, crudely put, I guess). Slavog Zizek is a Hegelian, and he puts it sort of like this, defending Hegel as one who cannot be held accountable for all he says because he is saying it IN a cultural historical frame, which is becoming, and therefore indeterminate. One can see from this where Heidegger gets his concept of historicity. Then Derrida comes along and says these contexts of historical constructs, they never really leave the "text". Derrida takes the stuffing out of metaphysics, but in doing so, makes the whole damn thing metaphysics, I think.

    Still, as ever, working on this. Derrida is a very interesting way to consummate this Hegel-Heidegger evolvement of thought.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    I don't see any paradox here. Can you explain?SophistiCat

    If you accept the brain as the generative source of consciousness and its phenomena, you are also a brain doing the accepting, so the question goes to where the authority of the accepting lies, for one simply can't get beyond the brain-itself-as-phenomenon, for to affirm a brain as not a phenomenon, one would have to stand apart from a phenomena. Or: How can consciousness position itself to "see" consciousness in order to discuss what it is? It's like explaining logic: explanations are inherently logical. This is a complaint waged toward Kant: "pure reason" is itself constructed of, if you will, the impurities of conceiving and naming it. Also against Husserl: there can be no reasonable talk about "pure phenomena" unless you can escape the language used to talk about it, which is no more pure than anything else.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    Are you referring to Wilder Penfield's research here?Wayfarer

    I think he is fascinating. And one must, I think, though this is something philosophers would find insulting to their dignity, consider near death experiences. Now, I am a committed skeptic, and it is hard for me to be impressed by personal narratives that tend to be careless and wandering and ridiculous. But I have taken the time to listen to these nde accounts and I must say they are not liars. Nor are they mistaken in the intuitive encounters they talk about. Some are simply astounding.

    Of course, I'm looking for trouble bringing something like this up here.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    You were talking about being. It's a twin of the nothing.frank

    But how is this to be taken? I remember reading Hegel once, and he, as I recall, placed the nothing in dialectical opposition to being, thereby producing becoming, which God works out through our historical progress. That is pretty out there, but I have to look again to see how he spells it out.

    I guess calling it the "twin" of being lies here: For Heidegger, being is not just entangled with language; rather, language is being, part and parcel of human dasein, so when we talk about what we are, our existence, we face language constructions, open to interpretative historical conditions, and there is no finality to interpretation. I like the way he puts it in The Origin of the Work of Art as he acknowledges that art can only be defined by the artwork, but the art work needs a definition to do the defining: He writes:

    Thus we are compelled to follow the circle. This is neither a makeshift nor a defect.
    To enter upon this path is the strength of thought, to continue on it is the feast of
    thought, assuming that thinking is a craft. Not only is the main step from work to art a
    circle like the step from art to work, but every separate step that we attempt circles in
    this circle.

    the strength of thought and a feast of thought, this is where the nothing comes in, for there is this impossible "outside" of the "unhiddenness" of what we deal with that we face when we encounter a creative moment: the nothing of an unmade future possibility. Our freedom is the nothing.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    I'm very grateful to you, Constance. Thank-you for you time, attention, knowledge and wisdom as applied to my thoughts about the mode of the phenomenon of consciousness.

    I can see, in an early state of understanding, not yet in sharp focus, some of the truth of your claim consciousness is more at metaphysics than at physics. I therefore see value in developing my thinking towards effecting the transition suggested.

    I'm supposing, tentatively, that physically grounded consciousness as metaphysics has for one of its essentials the phenomenon/noumenon relationship. This directs my research towards Husserl and, before him, Kant.

    Encouragement such as you've given me motivates my presence here.

    I have every confidence you will be better at this than I am.

    Consider, if you will, the one abiding thought that dominates my thinking: The world is phenomena. Once this is simply acknowledged, axiomatically so, then things fall into place. The brain is no longer the birth of phenomena, phenomena issue forth from phenomena, and what phenomena are is an open concept. Conscious open brain surgery shows a connection between brain and experiences, thoughts, emotions, memories, but does not show generative causality. Indeed, and this is an extraordinary point: If the brain were the generative source of experience, every occasion of witnessing a brain would be itself brain generated. This is the paradox of physicalism. What is being considered here, in your claim about gravity and its phenomenal universality (keeping in mind that gravity is not, of course, used in phenomenology's lexicon. But the attempt to bridge phenomenology with knowledge claims about the world of objects that are "out there" and "not me" is permitted {is it not?} to lend and borrow vocabularies with science. An interesting point to consider) is a "third perspective". Recall how Wittgenstein argued that we cannot discuss what logic is, for logic would be presupposed in the discussing. You would need some third perspective that would be removed from that which is being analyzed; but then, this itself would need the same, and so forth. This is the paradox of metaphysics, I guess you could call it, the endless positing of a knowledge perspective that itself, to be known, would require the same accounting as that which is being explained. An infinite regression.

    But if you follow, in a qualified way, Husserl's basic claim that what we call appearances are really an ontology of intuition (though I don't recall he ever put it like this), whereby the givenness of the world IS the foundation we seek, the "third perspective" which is a stand alone, unassailable reality, then, while the "what is it?" remains indeterminate, for language just cannot "speak" this (see above), we can allow the scientific term "gravity" to be science's counterpart to the apparent need for an accounting of a transcendental ego in order to close the epistemic distance between objects and knowledge.

    Just a thought.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    This sounds quite old fashioned and perhaps seven quasi religious. I'm not sure I have ever thought the world could be understood. The more time I spend on this site, the more this seems reasonableTom Storm

    Curious. Did you really think philosophy was just talking about itself? What is responsible for this is analytic philosophy, which has gotten lost, endlessly trying to squeeze new meanings out of familiar mundane thinking. They have, as Kierkegaard put is, forgotten they exist. Philosophy should begin with encounter, not some entangled string of thought. This comes afterward.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?

    Of course, gravity sounds a lot like God, then. For God is, sans the troublesome history and narratives, a metaethical, meta aesthetic metavalue grounding of the world.

    You may not agree with the above, but for me, I think you are on to something. Gravity, I will repeat, never really was "gravity", for this is a term of contingency, See Rorty's Contingency, Irony and Solidarity for a nice account of this. When the matter goes to some grand foundation of connectivity, are we not in metaphysics? Or on its threshold?
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    Let me call it Scientific Logos.

    Consider the following parallel,

    As a crystal chandelier is a workup (constructive metabolism) from a handful of sand, so a conversation between two humans is a workup (constructive metabolism) from a moon orbiting its planet (earth_moon).

    Under the implications of the above parallel, consciousness is an emergent property of two (or more) interacting gravitational fields. Thus a conversation, such as the one we're having, is the deluxe version
    (replete with all of the bells and whistles) of the moon orbiting the earth and causing the tides and global air currents that shape earth's weather.

    Language, being the collective of the systemic boundary permutations of a context or medium, cognitively parallels the phenomena animating the material universe.

    That we humans have language suggests in our being we are integral to a complex surface of animate phenomena via intersection of gravitational fields. Action-at-a-distance elevates the self/other, subject/object bifurcation to a living history with unified, internally consistent and stable points-of-view better known as the selves of human (and animal) society.

    Under constraint of brevity, a good thing, let me close with a short excerpt from my short essay on the great triumvirate of gravity-consciousness-language.

    There is a direct connection between human consciousness and the gravitational field.

    Gravitation is the medium of consciousness.

    One can say that the gravitational attraction between two material bodies is physical evidence that those material bodies are aware of each other.

    Under this construction, consciousness is an emergent phenomenon arising from the gravitational field.

    This tells us that the study of consciousness (and especially the hard problem of consciousness) begins with the work of the physicist.

    Gravity waves, the existence of which has been established, can also be called waves of consciousness.

    Since matter is the substrate of consciousness, one can infer that the material universe is fundamentally configured to support and sustain consciousness.

    Just as there can be geometrization of gravitation through relativity, there can be geometrization of consciousness through gravitation. This is a claim held by astrologers dating back to antiquity.

    The (material) universe itself is a conscious being.

    There is something here. but the language has to change. First, remove the science-speak, for you have stepped beyond this, for keep in mind that when consciousness and its epistemic reach is achieved by identifying object relations as gravitational in nature, and then placing the epistemic agency in this, as you call it, logos, you are redefining gravity as a universal, not law of attraction, but connectivity and identity, and I do remember thinking something like this was a way to account for knowledge relationships: identity. The distance is closed because there is no distance between objects that are not separated. And I mentioned that Husserl did hold something like this, but the "logos" was not scientific, it was a phenomenological nexus of intentionality. And since gravity is at this level of inquiry a strictly naturalistic term (to talk like Husserl), the description of what this unity is about has to go to a more fundamental order of thought, phenomenology. Gravity is now a phenomenon, an appearing presence. Ask a phenomenologist what a force is, what the curviture of space is, and you will first have see that these are conceived in theory and they are terms of contingency. One doesn't witness space or forces, but only effects from which forces are inferred and the names only serve to ground such things in a scientific vocabulary.

    Not gravity, with its connotative baggage, but phenomena, for this is all that is ever witnessed, ever can be witnessed. If it is going to be a universal connectivity of all things, I do think you are right to note that there is this term gravity that abides in everything and binds everything. I would remove the term and realize this connectivity does not belong to a scientific logos. It must be a term that is inclusive of the consciousness in which the whole affair is conceived and the epistemic properties are intended to explain. And this consciousness is inherently affective, ethical, aesthetic, and so on. For the nexus that connects me to my lamp and intimates knowing-in-identity is always already one that cares, in interested, fascinated, repulsed, and so on. A connection of epistemology not only cannot be conceived apart from these, it must have then as their principle feature, because these are the most salient things in all of existence.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    Have you perhaps made epistemic transmission problematical by conceiving of consciousness and its learning process as being predicated upon a discrete self/other bifurcation? Have you contemplated a self/other complex surface semi-symmetrical in its continuity?ucarr

    No, I've never thought of it. Tell me briefly how a "surface semi-symmetrical in its continuity" would do what needs to be done here.

    Here again I see instances of an assumption of self/other bifurcation. If you're committed to bifurcation, why?ucarr

    Because the assumption of a non-bifurcated world simply needs explaining. That is all. I am not saying such a bifurcation is indeed the way the world is. You are invited to tell me why it isn't, of you can do so plainly.

    Can the action-at-a-distance of the gravitational field elevate our conjecture (re:epistemic connectivity) above the simple self/other bifurcation?ucarr

    You suggest gravity is inherently epistemic?

    My conjecture about a complex surface with some topology of invariance assumes a unity of subjective self and observed world (of material objects) so, what epistemic distance?ucarr

    You assume a unity. Is this a mathematical/geometrical unity?
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    I just don't get this. There is a lot that is not understood, but I can't see why it would be "foreign to understanding."T Clark

    May I then offer you something that I found very helpful? It is here:

    Hope I linked this properly. Derrida is saying language's relation to the world is indeterminate. References to dogs and cats and whatever really issue from a kind of associative field of meanings formed by regions of related ideas. Bennington is wonderful in this.

    Also, an essay very accessible is Structure, Sign and Play.

    So when I say foreign to understanding, I am saying that the idea that a tree is referred to, has some singularity in the thought of the tree (implicitly there in the familiarity I feel when I encounter tree) and that there is some directness of apprehension of what is before me as I witness the tree--all of this is wrong, because my direct encounter is really a diffuse meaning created out of the aggregate of many meanings. Ever since Kierkegaard argued that the world of actualities is qualitatively different from the language and the logic that the understanding clings to, I have tried to deal with this impossible relationship between me and the tree. This world is an astounding imposition on us, filled with powerful intuitions and dimensions of affectivity. I am reminded of Wittgenstein who wanted, and petitioned until was allowed, to face death in WWI. You may think he was out of his mind for wanting to go the the front, but this is what strikes me: He wanted true intimacy with a world that transcended the complacencies of thought and its categories. Sure, he was suicidal, but it was the passion of engagement I admire. He felt the world's impossible gravitas; why impossible? Because language brings the world to heel! And in doing so, we lose something profound about being here (qua being here).

    I am a bit on the outside of philosophy, quite frankly. I am far less interested in understanding Husserl or Heidegger than I am interested in understanding the world. That is one way to put it. They are useful to my attempt to understand what is means to be thrown into a world that is utterly foreign to the formal structures of thought's attempts to address actuality.

    Eckhart wrote, I pray to God to be rid of God. He understood that the self-in-language thereby rises up in thought, but finds itself bound and limited by it once it reaches a terminal point of indeterminacy in which meanings simply "run out" as Hillary Putnam once put it.

    Keep in mind that even if Derrida is right, it changes nothing regarding the quality of what the world in its givenness yields. It does help us see that language does not speak the world.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    We should do a reading of Heidegger's What is Metaphysics? It's so good.frank

    Ah, the nothing. It is such a great, disturbing read. What thoughts have you here?
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    (Please forgive the following apparent non sequitur) consider that S and P are bound by action-at-a- distance. Can we assume that such binding of identity nonetheless preserves much of the autonomy and self-determination of each correspondent?

    Can we hypothesize the brain/object junction is a complex surface with some topology of invariance?

    Again, how does this span the epistemic distance?
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    Is brain conditioning of conscious experience similar to modulation as, for example, a parallel to frequency modulation of radio waves?ucarr

    Better to stay away from analogies. Any attempt to describe epistemic connectivity would encounter the same problem it attempts to solve, for whatever the metaphor might be put in play, one would still have to explain how epistemic transmission is possible. I mean, in a straight causal description, we might begin with the way portions of the electromagnetic spectrum are reflected or absorbed, and the former enter the eye, where they are received by cones and rods, etc. But the object "itself" (whatever that means) is already left far behind. Causality of any medium cannot be conceived as knowledge bearing. The only thing I can imagine that would bridge the distance is identity, that is, one's knowing-self itself receives direct intimation of the presence of an object.

    Husserl thought something like this, but he wasn't thinking about physical objects that way science does. the object was phenomenologically conceived, and the direct intimation was intuition. Of course, this is a big issue, but I think his Cartesian approach has merit, after all, pulling back from the technical issues, when I see my cat, it is impossible that nothing at all is happening. This impossibility is interesting and should be taken seriously when thinking about grounding knowledge claims.

    Does this hypothesis assume a duality of physical delimitations/that which exceeds physical delimitations?

    Is the latter what you suggest might be called spirit, thereby attributing to you belief in a physical/spirit duality?

    I think a term like physical substance is just an extension of the way science thinks about the world, into metaphysics. No one has ever witnessed it, nor can they. All one witnesses is phenomena. My couch is a phenomenal event and its "out thereness" is clearly evident, but how does its existence get into mine? Perhaps perceptual fields are more inclusive than imagined. "Spirit" is not a term taken seriously. I wonder.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    I'm kind of lost with this kind of language. In a previous post, I wrote that I didn't hold much with phenomenology. Since then, I've decided to put some effort into learning at least the basics so I can participate in these types of discussions more productively. What would recommend as Phenomenology for Dummies?T Clark

    Truly, I am not trying to be confusing. This is the way thinkers I read talk. There is a good reason why these authors are ignored: it takes a solid education in continental philosophy to even begin understanding them. The foundation for analytic philosophy, on the other hand, is already there, in the basic education we all receive growing up. Reading someone like Galen Strawson is like reading an rigorous extension of "common sense" that doesn't rely on the historical contexts of philosophy). If you really want to start somewhere, and you don't want to read Kant, then try Husserl's Cartesian Meditations. Then his Ideas I.

    I am not a meditator, at least not in any formal way, but I think this misrepresents the meditative process, although I've heard this type of criticism before. Awareness without words is possible without any kind of annihilation. I come to this from my interest in the Tao Te Ching. Lao Tzu talks about "wu wei", which means "inaction," acting without intention. Actions come directly from our true selves, our hearts I guess you'd say. Lao Tzu might say our "te," our virtue. Without words or concepts. I have experienced this. It's no kind of exotic mystical state. It's just everyday, meat and potatoes, although it can sometimes be hard to accomplish.T Clark

    It is not for me to pry into and argue about what people experience. Wu wei is as exotic or mysterious as the person already is. Some are born off the charts. To me, this aligns with the world, which is, when subjected to a close inspection of what is going on in common perception, utterly foreign to understanding. Meditation is like a recovery of something lost, a metaphysical nostalgia.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    I agree with all of that. I think the quest for a theory of consciousness will be a grand adventure. It's fed by a lust to know. Maybe it will generate technologies that allow some aspect of subjectivity to be recorded and that could be used for medicinal or artistic purposes.

    Every step of the way, someone will be pointing out that we're fooling ourselves and the truth we're finding is relative to a particular culture? That's ok. That's always how it is, right?

    Philosophers have talked themselves into believing experience isn't "really happening" by framing the claim that something is happening in metaphysics. Of course, this is a very loose way to speak, but I am not trying build an argument. One has to "close in" on the existential foundation of existence by, in the long run, ignoring language and culture (see Kierkegaard on this, his Concept of Anxiety) and allowing the disentangled gravitas if just being here to announce itself. Then one realizes that terms like being, existence, and reality are just abstractions of what is there, and shouldn't be discussed like this (and Wittgenstein would agree). Being is always already some impossible "value-being" and the primordial self is a value entity first and foremost. I see the cup on the table, and the question for epistemological interest is not about S knows P. It is about S values P and knowing is value-knowing. It is the interest in P, the fascination, the adoration, the loathing, the desire, and so on. Language is inherently analytical, that is, it takes the world apart, dividing what is, again, some impossible primordial unity; but it is always an interested analysis, curious, seeking consummation, affirmation, and it is this desire dimension that seeks fulfillment that rules here. The purely cognitive end of this is like Wittgenstein's "states of affairs", entirely absent of "the good" as he called it.
    I think following Husserl's reductive method closes in on something genuinely revelatory. Ask Siddhartha Gautama, the master of the reduction. This grand enterprise called philosophy is not looking for, heh, heh, "propositional knowledge". It has to realize this. The proposition is almost incidental. Language is tool, says Quine.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    That's a novel interpretation of Witt, isn't it? I think he was pointing out that when we propose to know transcendent facts, we're positing a vantage point that we don't have.frank

    Or better, one that cannot be had at all, which makes the difference.

    Analytic philosophers like to say that that which must be passed over in silence is really nothing at all, and the entire mistake lies with language going where it has no business, because there is no business to be had. The Tractatus does not agree. I don't want to labor the point, because I am well aware this book does not exhaust his thinking, but then, if the question is about the "hard problem of consciousness" one has to go where the issue is met, and what makes consciousness a hard problem is its encounter with, call it, the "other side" of language. I talk about my cat, but the talk about cats, their size, dispositions, and all of that ignores something that underlies all of this: its existence. Witt calls this mystical, not nothing. And he holds the same regard for ethics and aesthetics and their "value" dimension. Russell called him a mystic not because he was just disagreeing, but because Wittgenstein actually called himself this, implicitly.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    This lays out the question pretty well, although in different language than I would use. One thing I disagree with is equating the world of experience with the empirical world. As I noted in my previous post, I think it's possible to directly experience noumena, the Tao. It's just not possible to speak about it. When I start talking, then it becomes phenomena. Then I can measure it, name it, and conceptualize it.T Clark

    I think that is an interesting way to put it because it identifies this historical ontological distinction as hermeneutical, merely. And I think this is close to right. Wrong thinking is interpretative error, and it can construct imposing towers of meaning that become internalized in a culture and its history, and when you are in it, it is second nature, so to speak. Phenomena, by this thinking, is a term that is part of a construct created by philosophizing subsets in our cultural. Heidegger thought like this: We make truth, and the importance of things along with the "measuring, naming ,conceptualizing" rests with historical possibilities. I think I am aligned with you in that I think these historical possibilities cover up "something" that is revealed in a reduction that removes implicit knowledge claims from the "moment" of encounter. This something is inherently, what could you call it, value-cognitive, where the cognitive part refers to the fact that the understanding is engaged.

    But you know there are problems with this: Is the self's phenomenality really so removable from "noumenality"?; if language's categories are responsible for this division only, and to think at all is to think categorically (in a finite totality of meanings), then it is thought that holds us captive to this illusory separation and the method chosen to remedy and redeem has to be one that ultimately removes us from the bounds of thought. But what of the self? Hasn't the self been reduced to a Jamesian infantile "blooming and buzzing"? And what of experience as a self-belonging set of affairs? What happens when the strictures of thought are removed and the self is truly decentered; is it not thereby dissolved altogether?

    When I think of the meditative "method", the allowing of thought content to fall away from consciousness, while sitting quietly, I am struck by its annihilative nature. It really is the most radical thing a person can do, one could argue, this annihilation of the world. But if language falls away, so does understanding and knowledge, and agency is lost, and one is no longer "there" to witness anything. Perhaps the "direct experience of noumena" should not be so radically conceived. This term 'noumena' I am not that comfortable with because of its Kantian association. I prefer "pure phenomenon" for the act of reducing what is there, in our midst to what is strikingly "other" than the language that conceives it, but the what-is-there doesn't go anywhere. As I apperceive a rock, the "noumenal" rises to awareness as the language falls away, but that singular event is still your event. The purity of the perception occurs IN the historically embodied apperceiving, and it was there all along (like the Buddhists say when they claim the "Buddha nature" is never absent).
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    We need to make a distinction between the claim that the world is out there and the claim that truth is out there. To say that the world is out there, that is not our creation, is to say, with common sense, that most things in space and time are the effects of causes which do not include human mental states. To say that truth is not out there is simply to say that where there are no sentences there is no truth, that sentences are elements of human languages, and that human languages are human creations.

    Truth cannot be out there—cannot exist independently of the human mind—because sentences cannot so exist, or be out there. The world is out there, but descriptions of the world are not. Only descriptions of the world can be true or false.
    Tom Storm

    Rorty did understand this. you will find in a footnote in this book an emphatic denial of non prepositional knowledge, and I take this as simply the same thing I am saying here: once you put something out there in a statement, a thesis, you have, and this is really what Wittgenstein was on about in the Tractatus, you commit it to the finitude of language. I take issue where it is flatly denied that we can, through the understanding's conceptual pragmatic architectonics acknowledge the world as meaningful. Rorty decided to teach literature instead of philosophy for just this reason, for literature "shows" us the world rather than explaining it. But on the other hand, phenomenology is descriptive/analytic, and what I talked about is an actual part of our existence. After all, language never could exhaust the the world's presentative content.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    But you are only able to say this from the perspective you have chosen. For many philosophers there remains a Kantian distinction between appearance and reality as it is in itself. Can we just make this go away simply by using different words or concepts? How is this different to saying that we can solve the problem of the origin of life just by saying God created it? It's only solved if God is 1) real and 2) God created life.

    If I say from now on I am a monist, that very act does not do away with the hard question even if it satisfies me, right?

    But maybe I've missed something in your response?
    Tom Storm

    I can put something out there, but you won't like it. One has to understand that there is a whole other philosophical world that continues in Germany and France that is not popular in Anglo-American philosophy. I read this, often enough with genuine understanding I would say, but it is an acquired ability. Joshs seems pretty solid on this.

    It is not a matter of just rearranging words. One has to argue. What is that Kantian distinction really about? Always one must go to the things that are given to see what there is that can provide justification. Kant had to talk about noumena; why? Either it is nonsense, or there is something in the witnessable, phenomenological (empirical) world that insists. This is where we have to look: what is it in the world we know that intimates noumena? What is there in the presence of things that is the threshold for metaphysics? How does one talk about such a threshold? One cannot say it, for it is an absence, and yet it is an absence that is in the presence of the world.

    Of course, this sounds confusing, but metaphysics is not just nothing at all, like an empty set. This absence is intimated in the world, so it is part of the structure of our existence, and so, it is not outside of our identifiable existence as Kant would have it, but in it, saturating it, if you will, and it is staring you right in the face in everything you encounter. In the analysis of what it is to experience the world, it is clear that the language used to "say" what the world is is radically distinct from the existence that is being talked about. The cup is smooth to the touch, and warm, and resists being lifted, and so on, but all this language I use to describe the cup takes the actual givenness of sensation up IN a language setting. I call it a cup, but the calling does not, if you will, totalize what is there in the language possibilities because there is something that is not language in the "there" of it. It is an impossible other-than-language, and because language and propositional knowledge is what knowing is about, the understanding encounters in the familiar day to dayness of our lives something utterly transcendental. The cup is both clearly defined as long as I can keep it contained within familiar language, and, utterly impossible, because it is there, radically unknowable, for to know is to be able to say. Wittgenstein put it simply: It is not how things are that is mystical; but THAT is exists.

    This is a hard idea to simply throw out there and expect to be well received. Nor do phenomenologists all agree with this. Heidegger held that language and existence were of a piece, and our existence is language, and I think this is right; but I argue (have read it argued, too) that IN this matrix of language-in-the-world, a transcendental affirmation is possible, and this affirmation occurs in-the-midst-of everyday affairs.

    But the effort is worth it, reading phenomenology, that is. In this issue, the hard problem of consciousness, phenomenology is not just an alternative view; it is necessary and inevitable.

    God is another issue, a metaethical issue. I hold that the impossible, the mystical Wittgenstein mentioned, is, as Witt agrees, is really about value, or meta-value.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    This from "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness.

    Chalmers;"]The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect. As Nagel (1974) has put it, there is something it is like to be a conscious organism. This subjective aspect is experience. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations: the felt quality of redness, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field. Other experiences go along with perception in different modalities: the sound of a clarinet, the smell of mothballs. Then there are bodily sensations, from pains to orgasms; mental images that are conjured up internally; the felt quality of emotion, and the experience of a stream of conscious thought. that unites all of these states is that there is something it is like to be in them. All of them are states of experience.
    T Clark

    There is one fundamental premise that really should preside over the entire inquiry: all one has ever experienced, every can experience, and hence ever know, is phenomena. It reminds me of an issue I came across regarding Freud and the unconscious: The unconscious was considered to be a metaphysical concept entirely, and I thought, no, for there is an evidential basis for it. But the response was quick, pointing out that it was not that the unconscious had never been directly experienced, but rather that it was impossible for it to every be experienced, encountered, and this is why it belonged to metaphysics. Not just unknown but impossible to know. Why? Because the moment it comes to mind to consider at all, it is conscious, and references to the unconscious are only references to conscious events, which in turn were the same. The unconscious cannot be even conceived as a concept. It is nonsense.

    Here, anything that can ever be conceived, even in the most compelling argument imaginable, simply cannot be anything but a phenomenological event, for to conceive at all is inherently phenomenological. Nonsense to think otherwise. Consciousness is inherently phenomenological.

    There is no way out of this, for the moment the effort is made, one is already IN the problem; unless, that is, Husserl was right, and that it is possible to achieve an awareness of the intuited landscape of all things that is pure and absolute. This, then, is not a matter for science as we know it. It lies with the "science" of phenomenology. Which leads me to reaffirm that philosophy is going to end up one place, and it is here, in phenomenology. There is quite literally no where else to go.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    Phenomenology affirms that idealism is accurate? So phenomenology is a monist view which dissolves the dualistic fallacy of mind and body?

    How does phenomenology affirm the above?
    Tom Storm

    As I see it, all it takes is the removal of the word representation and using presentation or givenness instead. Michel Henry puts it like this:

    Let us begin with indeterminacy. The first principle (of phenomenology) establishes a decisive correlation between appearance and being. This correlation impresses itself upon us with the strongest force because it is wholly immediate: when something appears, it happens to exist at the same time. This correlation is so powerful that it seems to be reduced [ramener] to an identity: to appear is thereby identically to be. When the principle says “so much appearing, so much being,” it intends neither the extension, nor in any fashion the intensity of phenomenological and ontological determinations that it brings together, but rather the common identity of their essence. It is to the extent that appearing appears that being thereby “is.”

    There is no privileging of something unseen that is that which appears through the appearance, or that the appearance is a representation of. I observe the cup on the table and there before me in the appearance is the reality.

    As to the dualistic fallacy, body, as opposed to mind, is nothing beyond what the appearance yields. All ontologies are reduced to the one status of what is simply there, before one's witnessing, analytic gaze. It is not "of" anything; but this does not mean the world is complete to the gaze. Taking the world up as it appears takes on a whole new set of analytical priorities. There is this indeterminacy and time is at the center of this: we are always on the cusp of an unmade future that calls for constant renewal, and seeing this is the what freedom is about. There are moods and fears and caring and all that is left out of science's paradigms are here given priority, for Being is not measured by quantifications on a space-time grid, but is measured phenomenologically, and here I follow Kierkegaard: qualitatively.

    Science has never addressed the most salient feature of our existence, value. Phenomenology, I would argue, has this front and center.

    Anyway, phenomenologists do say different things, but I think the above is a rough generalization.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    How does this differ to idealism?Tom Storm

    Idealism affirms that everything in the we encounter is idea. Phenomenology affirms it as reality.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    Chalmers proposes that things like neutral monism or the extended mind would help us get closer to a theory of consciousness. He's flexible. But strictly speaking, he's part of the analytical tradition, so the physicalism you're speaking of is not essential to analytical philosophy.frank

    Thanks for that. Then I will have to read Chalmers on the extended mind. But the more one speaks of such things, the more one leans phenomenology. After all, what is it that is "extended"?
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    If instead the semantics of scientific concepts were perspectival and grounded in the phenomenology and cognition of first-person experience, for example in the way in which each of us informally uses our common natural language, then inter-communication of the structure of scientific discoveries would be impossible, because everyone's concepts would refer only to the Lockean secondary qualities constituting their personal private experiences, which would lead to the appearance of inconsistent communication and the serious problem of inter-translation. In which case, we would have substituted the "hard problem" of consciousness" that is associated with the semantics of realism , for a hard problem of inter-personal communication that can be associated with solipsism and idealism.sime

    But phenomenology is not about first person experience. This is a notion that issues from the very scientific perspective in question: here is a perceiving agent, there is a stone, and if phenomenology rules our thinking in this, the perceiving agent never leaves her private phenomenal space. Phenomenology does not think like this. It takes appearance as Being. I am there and stones are there and their existence is fully acknowledged as other than myself. My scientific conceptual relations with them do not change at all. All that has changed is now we are freed from the absurd ontology of physical materialism that makes it, not hard, but impossible to describe epistemic relations, which are THE biggest embarrassment of analytic's naturalism. What is left for philosophy is clearer analysis of what makes appearance possible.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    I don't want to get into a long discussion about how science has to proceed. I will say that there is no reason the mind would not be among entities amenable for study by science. You and Constance are just waving your arms and promoting a ghost in the machine with no basis except that you can't imagine anything else.T Clark

    Then the last word would be this: It's not my last word. All analytic philosophers know this. The distance between objects in the world and our knowledge claims about them given a physicalist model simply cannot be bridged through empirical science unless there is a dramatic change of thinking here. The first move will have to be an abandonment of an ontology of physical substance, for this pulls all things toward Dewey/Quine's (and obviously others I haven't read) and science's naturalism, and this simply does not work. Just ask Quine:

    "When . . . I begin to think about my own verbal behavior in theoretical or semantical terms, I am
    forced to admit that, here too, indeterminacy reigns. Philosophical reflection upon my own
    verbal behavior, concerned with hunting out semantical rules and ontological commitments,
    requires me to make use of translational notions. I then recognize that the intentional content of
    my own psychological states is subject to indeterminacy: semantical and intentional phenomena
    cannot be incorporated within the science of nature as I would wish.

    From Quine (though he does remain true to his naturalism throughout, I have read) and others I am led to believe that an ontology of physical substance has to be replaced by one of radical indeterminacy. This frees our doxastic affairs dramatically, for at every turn we are not led to those absurd physicalist delimitations, as if "semantical phenomena" has its final vocabulary, as Rorty put it, in this primitive idea. At the most basic level everything is indeterminate, so we are left with what is given, and givenness is basis of Husserl's phenomenological ontology. The distance is bridged by concepts like 'proximity' and 'intuition' as there is no epistemic distance between me and this cup simply because the cup's being there appears without distance. Being IS what appears.

    Of course, there is interpretative "distance" and this is a big issue. But then, distance, in the way it is talked about here, implies a distance from something, and one would have to posit that something to make sense of it. So, this implies our knowledge claims, the sound ones, intimate something of whatever-it-is that is there, undisclosed. THIS is where very interesting philosophy begins, in my thoughts: how to enunciate the appearances of the world to see if "Truth" possibilities of our propositions have any purport beyond their explicit propositional content.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    "I can't imagine" is a pretty pitiful argument.T Clark

    And worse, simply not true. I can imagine it. It is just far away from empirical science.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    You're basically describing the hard problem, the point of which is that science needs to grow conceptually in order to have the tools to create a theory of consciousness.frank

    I certainly agree. I am coming to believe phenomenology holds the key.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    The beginning of a theory of consciousness would just start with guessing at what kind of system could produce the experience of gazing straight ahead, being aware of sights and sounds in a seamless unity.frank

    The trouble is that on a physicalist model, and talk about nervous systems and axonally connected systems, neurochemistry, and the like, one is supposed to first get beyond a universal physical reduction. Of course, you can say, well, we just have to live with this and empirical science is the only heel that rolls, but I would disagree: A scientific idea has to have something to observe, and here, this would be self's interiority. This is not objective and empirical and science can't touch it.

    Now Husserl called what he did a science because he was flowing the scientific method: observing descriptive features of thoughts, relations, phenomenal intuitions and so forth. Perhaps on the cutting edge of discovery is this century ago phenomenologist.
  • The ineffable
    Exactly that ethics is in the doing.Banno

    You have have just missed the proverbial barn door, I think intentionally. Your issue is not with me. It is with Witt.
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    Integrated information theory is a stab at creating a theory grounded in direct experience. It's a beginning.frank

    Okay, I'll look into it, but it would have to be something like an alternative to causality. The only way this can work would be two very radical ideas: S knows P is the issue. One cannot disentangle P from justification, and it really looks like P and the justification are the same thing, that is, the nexus of the epistemic connection is not to be separated from P itself. Causality (perhaps you've read some of the proffered solutions/failures to those Gettier problems, the severed head, the barn facsimile, e.g.s) does not, of course, carry P to S, to put it plainly. P is lost instantly in the causal sequence describing the knowledge connection. One radical solution is to say S and P are bound in identity: In some describable way, P is part of S's identity, and the brain/object separation has to be dismissed. Another way is come up with the magical connectivity that allows S and P to be altogether independent entities, yet epistemically joined.

    The former is in the bounds of what a phenomenologist might defend. All things I witness are witnessed in sphere of my personal totality. I suppose we are in Kant's world here, or some derivation. Husserl had to address the issue of solipsism. For clearly when I know P, P cannot be foreign to my powers of apprehension; it has to be IN this somehow. For objects to be MY objects justifying my knowledge claims, there must be a "belonging" that intimates P AS P, and not P as something that is not P. If P belongs to my own epistemic constitution, then the intimation is possible.

    Then, working with a physical model seems hopeless. I actually suspect that the brain does not produce conscious experience, but rather conditions it. Experience exceeds the physical delimitations of the physical object, the brain. Call it spirit??
  • Why is the Hard Problem of Consciousness so hard?
    That science has not explained. I see no reason to believe it can't.T Clark

    In order for science to do this, there must be in place at least some working concept of epistemic relations that is grounded in observational discovery. I can't imagine.