Friday, May 25, 2007

Consciousness: Consciousness is more than the impact of billiard balls thwacking each other?

For now, you have to pay for Christoph C. Adami’s review of Douglas Hofstadter’s I am a strange loop
The nature of human consciousness has been debated through the centuries, at least since Descartes posited that a special substance, the res cogitans, conferred upon humans (and only humans) the ability to think and feel; have ideas, wishes, and concerns; display empathy, dislikes, or wonder. This dualist view of the world--dual because it presupposes the existence of two radically different substances, one to make the mind, and another to make everything else in the world--still, in one form or another, informs the thinking of a surprising (to me) number of philosophers of the mind. Hofstadter is not one of those. His approach is decidedly materialistic, that is, he seeks an explanation of the phenomenon of consciousness using physical law only. However, he is not interested in a neurobiological explanation (even though he is fully convinced that consciousness must be explainable within neurobiology) because he believes that as our consciousness is perceived at the level of symbols and thoughts, our explanation of it should occur at this level of description also.

Adami ends up defending materialism. Hofstadter needs to just give up on materialism.

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