Nature of Consciousness

Parisi & Watson niche at AMERITECH.NET
Wed Jul 21 18:58:14 CDT 1999

-----Original Message-----
From: Greg Goode <goode at DPW.COM>
Date: Tuesday, July 20, 1999 10:20 AM
Subject: Re: Nature of Consciousness

>Robert wrote:
>>We can observe not only succession, but dependence.

>We *infer* dependence.  We observe actions, movements, meter readings, etc.

I believe you are mistaken here. It's commonplace in neurology to infer the
function of a certain area of the brain by observing the changes and
disabilities in people who have suffered accidental injury there. Is that
such a leap? Every single time I unplug my televsion, it goes dark. I infer
from this that electricity is required in order for it to function. If I
ever see a case in which this is not true (neglecting obvious alternatives
such as batteries, of course), then the inference will be called into
question. The same could be said about vision and cutting the optic nerve.
There is nothing really controversial about this.

>Not true or valid by definition, but uttered when I thought we were talking
>about metaphysics.  Within experimental psychology, psychobilogy, etc.,
>non-dualism is a non-issue.
>One position over another... Yes, this is exactly what I said above about
>science and metaphysics.  With the possible exception of the new quantum
>physics (Amit Goswami, etc.), science doesn't ask or purport to answer
>metaphysical questions.  But then your statements immediately above are not
>metaphysical either, they are scientific generalizations.  No problem.

You make a convincing case for what has become a strong current in Western
philosophy over the past several decades: that science deals with
substantive claims about things that make some detectable difference, while
metaphysics deals only with empty ideas that are devoid of any testable

But in any case, how does invoking the word metaphysics get around the
problem that I mentioned? To repeat: consciousness is obviously the medium
of all human experience under any set of assumptions, including
materialistic ones. So how can one conclude anything, metaphysical or
otherwise, about the primacy of consciousness from this (as you say)
inescapable fact? I'm not just arguing, I'm really asking you for an answer.


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