[LINK] Consciousness, and the real world

David Lochrin dlochrin at d2.net.au
Wed Nov 16 10:08:18 AEDT 2011

On Monday 14 November 2011 06:20, Stephen Wilson wrote:

> My own reading of consciousness is best informed by the works of Daniel Dennett ("Consciousness Explained" etc.).

I've had many (mostly email) conversations on this topic with a friend over many years.

There is an informed view that, far from explaining consciousness, Dennett tries to explain it away.  He seems to be a man on a mission to do away with religion by showing that phenomenal experience (i.e. our perceptions, understandings, and thought processes) is all just brain machinery at work.  The problem is that he throws the baby out with the bathwater in the process by leaving no room for phenomenal experience!

No-one knows how consciousness arises, or perhaps "what it is" might be better.

(Personal declaration: I'm not defending religion here.)

> I read Roger Penrose's "THe Emporer's New Mind" -- his treatise on QM and consciousbess -- and found it quite nutty.

I have an MP3 of Roger Penrose speaking on his conjecture about quantum processes in the brain, and some HTML of his accompanying hand-drawn slides.  He's quite up-front about the fact that it's a conjecture, not some pet theory of his.  With many claims now about entanglement in macro-world environments, he might turn out to be not far off the mark after all.

BTW, I have a copy of "The Road to Reality" by Penrose, which is a wonderful compendium of modern physics.  But it's a reference book, not something you read from cover to cover, and the reader needs a degree in physics.

> But it's not unusual for physicists to range ostentatiously and ambitiously into "softer" fields, and make a complete hash of them.  Think Fred Hoyle and the origins of life, and Paul Davies and religion.

Paul Davies won the Templeton Prize a few years back, and it's a lot of money, so I guess someone liked his ideas.  And I thought traces of amino acids, at least, had been found in meteorites?

Science doesn't go anywhere without speculations like those (:-)!!


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