Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Essential Difference of Consciousness

Reading this. Have to just say something...

Look, the difference between everything that science has been so successful at explaining, and consciousness, is that we know all of science indirectly whereas consciousness is the one thing we know directly. While many properties and processes of consciousness are indeed mostly physical, the fact itself is a different kind of fact than any other fact of which we are aware.

I suppose it may turn out that directness is an irrelevant property, epistemologically. It seems unlikely. It seems rather more likely that the tools that are useful for studying indirectly are completely pointless when trying to study directness, as such tools are themselves a form of indirectness.

This is the distinction the whole zombie debacle is trying to get at.

2 comments:

onemorebrown said...

And what, exactly, is this direct/indirect distinction supposed to mark?

It is true that our access to our own conscious states seem imediate, but what is the evisence that it actually is? Most of the results from cognitive science suggest that our access is not direct.

Alrenous said...

And what, exactly, is this direct/indirect distinction supposed to mark?

A radical epistemological difference in kind.

"I suppose it may turn out that directness is an irrelevant property,"

and

"It seems rather more likely that the tools that are useful for studying indirectly are completely pointless when trying to study directness,"

Basically what I'm noting is that the relationship between directness and consciousness, especially the most mysterious core, is the relationship of identity.

Most of the results from cognitive science suggest that our access is not direct.

Not exactly sure what details you're referring to here, but through what mechanism do we know those indirect details? You cannot know everything indirectly; eventually, there must be something direct through which you know the rest.

It stands to reason that this part will be a very different beast to study.

Further, its pretty obvious to me that what people mean by 'consciousness' and 'qualia' are these direct mechanisms through which we indirectly know everything else.