Monday, May 25, 2009

Dennett Refuted in One Sentence

Plus several paragraphs that essentially just repeat the sentence in detail. I should mention that none of this means listening to the talk is only ironically useful. (That is, listening to find out what doing it wrong looks like, a type of consumption I engage in regularly.) I should also mention the sentence I reference is the last one.

You can't be mistaken about consciousness. It is the one thing with this quality, because it is known directly. As an instrument, you can indeed be mistaken about what the readings represent, but the reading itself is completely unmistakable.

"I'm going to shake your confidence that you know your innermost minds."
So, er, you do think something? And that thing is mistaken, apparently, according to some criteria? So, there's what you think, and what is? So, is Dennett trying to say that what you think doesn't exist? Because if it does, then you can't be mistaken about your innermost mind. If you're mistaken about it, it's not innermost. To clarify, if I ask you to picture an apple, you can be mistaken about picturing an apple. (If you think the lady was sawn in half, you can't be mistaken about thinking the lady was sawn in half.) The apple is an association and a label, but what you are picturing can't be mistaken relative to itself. You are picturing something, and if you describe it to me, assuming you're fluent in English, (aside from 'apple) you can't be mistaken about that description.

The charitable interpretation is literally that Dennett is denying the existence of consciousness, something that meshes poorly with his opening remarks.

Let me assume it isn't true. So, you mistake one conscious state for another. However, what did you mistake it as? This illusion cannot be mistaken; otherwise it's an illusion that it's an illusion, and you are mistaking the real thing for an illusion. As such, whatever feature of the world you decide is a level of consciousness you identify as indirect and suspect, it simply pushes this directness back a level. (Except when it pushes back forward a level.)
"A lot of people think there can't be a naturalistic explanation of consciousness."
And a lot of people like to confuse my explanation with a supernatural one. That's part of what gives me confidence in it; Dennett would say it's supernatural, yet a Christian would most likely call me out for scientistic bent. I'm obviously not trying to pander to any prejudice. ('Cept my own, which I volunteer to admit.)
Ending at 5:54, "The magic that can be done is not real magic."
No, Dennett, by 'real' in this case people mean the thing that they would really call magic if they saw it, rather than what they perceive as the cheap imitation. And indeed, do not 'real' magicians play up their act to make it as similar to real magic for all it is worth? It entertains by imitating, as opposed to music, which is entertaining because it is entertaining, not becuase people want to see what it is imitating, but can't. Try not to wander into linguistics, it isn't your field.
"Consciousness is a bag of tricks."
Something you cannot prove. As a philosopher, you shouldn't be saying it. Since, as you seem to be aware, people are easily fooled into believing what they want to be true, and you clearly want consciousness to be naturalistic, you should perhaps turn your analytic ability on yourself.

Ending at: 17:11

'Fooling you' is completely the wrong term. The brain is not fooling you, it is making an educated guess, and if you learn to introspect skillfully it will tell you it is doing so. It helpfully labels everything with a delightful cornucopia of labels, actually.

"How many engines on that Boeing? Right in the middle of the picture."
Consciously speaking, the middle of the picture is the juncture between the shuttle and the airplane. The geometric centre is irrelevant.

Again, checking my labels, I didn't even request knowledge about the engines, so, shockingly, it wasn't passed to me. Basically, I thought it was unimportant, my subconscious thought it was unimportant, and consciousness is expensive so we didn't waste our energies on it.

Come to think he mislead me. "It's so obvious and important." Well, actually, it's not obvious, because I didn't see it. Second, it's not important to me. Thus I checked for other things. (This kind of thing has happened to me before. Left to myself I'm just more efficient.)

Also from introspection, I notice that as I experience my conscious representation of the picture, parts of it are labelled for me as searched and not searched. Now that I know I need to check for this label, it will even be useful to me in the future.

Again, Dennett makes a fundamental mistake when he thinks about consciousness, but all his reasoning afterwards is actually pretty interesting.

"Philosopher Dan Dennett makes a compelling argument that not only don't we understand our own consciousness, but that half the time our brains are actively fooling us."
"Philosopher Dan Dennett sticks his foot in his mouth about consciousness, showing his misconception in Blu-Ray clarity, but does it in such a way that everyone is impressed."

Not being an expert on what information, exactly, is passed to my consciousness doesn't make me not an expert on consciousness, since consciousness is a consequence of that information being passed, not the information itself.


Anonymous said...

Was going to comment on your fallacious reasoning, but, looking over the rest of your blog, I see you are a fundy kook with an agenda, so I'll just move on. If you have any specific objections to Dennett's presentation, I know I'd be interested in hearing them.

Alrenous said...

Sorry, the quality of that comment didn't even get high enough to respond seriously to.

How did you find my blog?

in6days said...

Loved your piece
Dennett contradicts himself at every turn