Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Dismissing Consciousness

Posted by Jerry on October 29, 2007

Over the weekend, I caught up on so much reading. I was reading Daniel Dennett’s Consciousness Explained. It’s an intriguing book with a very compelling hypothesis, a kind of materialism. I haven’t finished reading the book yet. However, with regard to philosophers of the mind, I find that John Searle’s biological naturalism is more sensible than Dennett’s account of the consciousness.

From Dennett’s book, I get the impression that philosophers really take this notion seriously: that consciousness dismisses itself as the faculty of awareness and perception precisely because it is aware and it perceives.

I suspect this wall of seperation between man’s consciousness and reality began with Descartes but was truly reinforced by Kant, and has been accepted ever since.

Throughout the book, the idea of “objectivity” inherently requires the exclusion or negation of consciousness, because, philosopher’s argue, consciousness is by definition “subjective.”

It’s really strange. Think about it in this way: our organs have certain functions. For example, the heart pumps blood; the liver purifies it; the lungs are used to absorb oxygen; our eyes are used to see; our ears are used to hear.

Now, would it make sense to say that because our heart pumps blood we cannot really be certain that it indeed does pump blood, or that it is indeed blood that it is pumping–could it be that it’s pumping something else? But that’s essentially what philosophers have been insisting about the brain.

The brain is the organ that perceives: that is its function. It integrates the data from the sense organs into percepts and processes the data conceptually. It does this in a phenomena we call awareness or consciousness. Philosophers argue that because our brains perform a certain function, i.e., the function of awareness, it is inherently flawed: that the brain is not doing its job right–it is only fabricating images of the external world (things-as-they-appear), and we can never have access to things-as-they-are so long as we are conscious. In other words, we are stuck in our box of consciousness–our organ of perception is the very thing that hampers our perception of the world.

It is just as Rand had described the premise of these philosophers: they argue that because we have eyes we cannot see; because we have ears we cannot hear.

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One Response to “Dismissing Consciousness”

  1. Searle is definitely much better than Dennett. This is one of the things I find most frustrating about supposed scientists — their inability to deal with the idea of consciousness and free will. The evasions that the engage in, in order to deny these concepts are simply bizarre. I have to assume that there’s a basic dishonesty involved. Steven Pinker in his How the mind works also argues against Searle and his “Chinese Room” analogy.

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