Sunday, September 05, 2010

Consciousness Simply Cannot "Emerge" From Matter

John C. Wright offers some splendid analogies and writing on the topic here.

There is also a good post on this at Uncommon Descent (with good discussion in the comments) here.

6 comments:

Ilíon said...

On your recommendation, I read Mr Wright's piece. But he's still a fool (in case you're interested in why I say that, as per our exchange here), and I don't have time, or patience, for fools.

Ilíon said...

But, back to this piece, Mr Wright keeps going on about "radical materialists" -- as though there were any other kind. The mindset and argumentation he's critiquing is that of materialists simpliciter.

I speculate and presume that the reason he's doing that is for much the same reason he chose, in the thread I linked above, to accuse me of “being unfair to the materialist atheists” (and chose to go downhill from there). That is, it seems to me that he doesn’t quite want to admit that there is no such thing as a rational atheism … and he doesn’t want to admit/acknowledge that his Randian buddy/commenter is just one more foolish pretend-atheist who *will not* reason any time the conversation turns to “religion.”

John Wright said...

"That is, it seems to me that he doesn’t quite want to admit that there is no such thing as a rational atheism "

Well, actually, I often speak of rational atheism, and I used to be a rational atheist.

The distinction I am making is between "materialists" (those who believe no substance but matter exists, and conclude consciousness is related to an dependent upon matter) and "radical materialists" (those who believe all consciousness is matter.)

For example, Lucretius is a materialist, but Dawkins is a radical materialist. The argument I make against Dawkins does not apply to Lucretius.

I regret you think me a fool (and this may, unfortunately, be an accurate estimate on your part), but I urge you not to misunderstand what I am saying, or attribute to me things I have not said, whether foolish or not.

Warren said...

Actually, if you abandon the modern (mechanistic) conception of matter and go back to the Aristotelian model (formal and final causes, etc), then it becomes at least conceptually possible for consciousness to "emerge" from matter.

Same is true for Darwin's theory (which is the mother of all emergence theories). Ironically, becoming a Catholic and learning something about Thomist philosophy allowed me to entertain evolution as at least a theoretical possibility for the first time.

But given modern theories of matter, even including quantum physics, I agree that the whole idea of consciousness emerging from matter is utterly incoherent.

Warren said...

And let me extend welcome and greetings to Mr. Wright, whose comboxes I am not worthy to comment in....

Ilíon said...

Warren, consciousness can't emerge from anything other than pre-existing consciousness ... that's what you had to put quotes around the word in making the silly statement that under Aristotle's odd/incomplete metaphysic "it becomes at least conceptually possible for consciousness to "emerge" from matter."