“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Conversations about consciousness…

…with John Searle last night.





4 responses to “Conversations about consciousness…”

  1. […] fantastic dialogue HERE. Matt (Footnotes to Plato) ask a series of thought provoking questions regarding 1) the extended […]

  2. philosophyprime Avatar

    Apparently Searle thinks smugness can substitute for coherency.

    On one point:

    I don’t think a plant is conscious just because it tends toward the sun. This behavior needn’t be considered as conscious or even experiential activity in whole – maybe more like an emergent mechanism(which is perhaps the result of the meta-structure/rules of mediation of the actual occasions themselves). But this hardly means that the relations of the plant don’t themselves have proto-experience. It may well be that most organizations of actual occasions are rather unorganized per the metric of sentience.

    I also think that Searle’s answer regarding societal and other large-scale processes was wildly inadequate. His ad hoc, atemporal epistemology is unlikely to hold up under intense scrutiny. Possible lines of criticism include infogenesis(information genesis) and verification issues. Those two are intimately related, actually. Organic evolution of the animal kingdom itself would probably be the prime example here. We assume that we can design a human being without such a process( ad hoc epistemology). But maybe we could only expedite the general process, not replace it. In other words a piece of knowledge is intimately(necessarily) connected to it’s verification process which is..historical in nature. Oops!

    What I do know is that Searle was full of it and he doesn’t provide any real answers. Vacuous actuality – somebody has to address this issue or they can’t be taken seriously on these philosophic topics. This man did not address it. He may think that consciousness is the mystery but I believe it’s the rest of it that is so mysterious. I’m pretty well acquainted with my consciousness but have trouble buying purely abstract-pragmatic definitions of matter. Where is the ontology?

  3. John Anngeister Avatar

    Matt I think you are right that Searle was pitching something that can be reduced to behaviorism. His attempt to use a concept of causation to deny it is self-defeating I think, and if he reflects he will realize that you are right.

    Funny that a philosopher is telling his audience that the really important stuff is going to be coming from atheist technicians like Crick. Sounds like philosophy of his sort is over.

    However, I won’t be applauding a complete takeover by a new breed of panpsychists either. That’s still side-stepping the reality of the personal and wanting to make it into a goosed-up material instead of a supervenient spiritual (in my humble opinion).

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