Re: MD mental and neural states

From: Scott R (
Date: Mon Mar 17 2003 - 05:10:52 GMT

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    I've been away for a week, hence the delay in responding.

    Sam asked:
    > Now I would summarise your argument (included below) as "no single
    > can possess consciousness; no agglomeration of electrons can possess
    > consciousness; therefore consciousness cannot evolve". Is that reasonable?
    > (I haven't tried to list all the various assumptions).
    > I have one question: why can't consciousness be an emergent property?

    Consciousness can (and does) evolve (Barfield's book is all about this, how
    our perception is different from that of earlier times). My argument is an
    attempt to show that consciousness cannot be an emergent property (that is,
    cannot emerge out of non-consciousness). It is a reductio ad absurdum of
    what I call the conventional picture of perception, that is, one that
    assumes that the fundamental stratum of reality consists of
    non-consciousness entities, yet when they get organized in certain complex
    ways (i.e., as nervous systems), somehow consciousness happens. Spacetime is
    part of that conventional picture. So when mystics speak of
    non-spatiotemporal reality, I think they should be listened to.

    From the argument, one can conclude that the usual materialist/Darwinian
    metaphysical view is untenable, but it doesn't suggest what can or should
    take its place. My own inclination is to say that (once one has assimilated
    my argument) it makes more sense to say that consciousness is basic, and the
    appearance of non-consciousness is derived, than the other way around.
    (Dualism is also possible, but I reject that for the usual reasons.) It
    shouldn't be assumed, though, that this "basic" consciousness is
    subject/object consciousness. You might want to look into Franklin
    Merrell-Wolff's book "Philosophy of Consciousness-Without-an-Object" on this
    score (he was a mystic, but also trained in philosophy).

    - Scott

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