“Secrets of Consciousness” Debate

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Here is footage of a debate I did at the ‘How the Light Gets In’ Festival at Hay on Wye last month. It got pretty intense (in a nice way…) and was lots of fun. I was defending panpsychism against the illusionism of Nicholas Humphrey and the illusionist/panpsychist position of Susan Blackmore.

The Author

I am a philosopher and consciousness researcher at Durham University, UK. My research focuses on how to integrate consciousness into our scientific worldview.

1 Comment

  1. Lee Roetcisoender says

    I believe the hard problem of consciousness lies squarely at the feet of subject/object metaphysics (SOM), an architecture of thought we inherited from Plato, Aristotle and his Greek cronies. The constraints of SOM are clearly demonstrated by David Chalmers own words: “But there is one kind of consciousness that I am most interested in, and that is consciousness as subjective experience: roughly what it feels like to be thinking, reasoning, or being. In this sense, a system is conscious if there is something it is like to be that system. So there is something it is like to be me, and I presume there is something it is like to be you, but there is probably not anything it is like to be this bottle of Pepsi. Likewise, a mental state is conscious if there is something it is like to have that mental state.”

    I recently posted a comment in “The Splintered Mind: reflections in philosophy of psychology, broadly construed”; Thursday, May 23, 2018 titled: “An Argument Against Every General Theory of Consciousness.” It reads as follows:

    A coherent theory of consciousness is elusive because the hard problem of consciousness is constrained by our current paradigm of subject/object metaphysics, an architecture of thought that by its own nature is inherently suppressive. Dismantling SOM would be the best place to start. Fundamentally, there are no such things as subjects and objects, just the things we do not understand, and because we do not understand them, we label them as subjects and objects, build an intellectual construct, that in the end suppresses meaning. Our current distinction dividing the subject and the object is an arbitrary one. One could just as easily define objects as things which have characteristics that are determinate, just as easily as one could define subjects as objects which have characteristics that are indeterminate, putting both the object and the subject in the same box without distinction. It’s all a matter of preference, but something as simple as preference could lead to a new model of reasoning.

    In this new paradigm of reasoning, consciousness would be a first person objective experience of some “thing” that is radically indeterminate, not a subjective experience at all. One could then develop a model of consciousness where consciousness is universal and is an objective experience of some “thing” that is common to all phenomenon, from the indeterminate properties of inner and outer space, spin, mass and charge, to the indeterminate characteristics of the experience of consciousness the we human beings experience. Grounding any theory of consciousness in our current paradigm, by calling it a subjective experience, is a blueprint for an endless debate predicated on the grounding tenet of subjectivity, the very definition of a black hole.

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