Thursday, June 26, 2008

Consciousness: Belated "sublimely ridiculous" award for 2006

It's too bad I wasn't giving out a "completely ridiculous" award for comments on consciousness in 2006. This one, from theoretical psychologist Nicholas Humphrey, would be a slam dunk:

Our starting assumption as scientists ought to be that on some level consciousness has to be an illusion. The reason is obvious: If nothing in the physical world can have the features that consciousness seems to have, then consciousness cannot exist as a thing in the physical world. So while we should concede that as conscious subjects we do have a valid experience of there being something in our minds that the rules of the physical universe doesn't apply to, this has to be all it is - the experience of something in our minds."
Nicholas Humphrey, "Consciousness: The Achilles Heel of Darwinism? Thank God, Not Quite", in John Brockman (ed.),
Intelligent Thought: Science versus the Intelligent Design Movement (Vintage, 2006), pp. 58-9. Original emphasis.
Actually, consciousness isn't the Achilles heel of Darwinism; it is Darwinism's grave. Here's the Humphrey paper, which appeared in this book:

Hat tip: Krauze at Telic Thoughts