Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reductionists Explain Consciousness!! Or Do They??


Earlier this month, I posted an interview with “Darwin’s pit bull” Richard Dawkins, in which Dawkins himself admitted that some “mysteries” of life remain beyond the reach of Darwinian theory – at least for now. One of those mysteries is the “origin of consciousness.”

According to the article…

Where does subjective consciousness come from? Dawkins sees this as the "biggest puzzle" facing biology. Scientists have their ideas, and one of the latest ideas is that consciousness serves as the Wi-Fi network for an assortment of "computers" inside your brain.

The article links to a 2007 MSNBC piece in which we are told that “psychologists and cognitive scientists” have reached a “consensus” in favor of the Wi-Fi/consciousness theory.

If you think of the brain as a set of different computers, each of which performs different complicated tasks and procedures, consciousness is like the Wi-Fi network that integrates the computers’ activities so that they can work together, Morsella explained.

For example, if you are carrying a hot plate of food to the table, one of your brain’s “computers” will tell you to drop the plate because it’s burning your skin, whereas another will tell you to hold on so the food doesn’t end up on the floor.

The brain requires the “Wi-Fi network” of consciousness so that the different computers can interact, hash things out and determine what you do.

Let me get this straight: According to the Reductionists, “consciousness” is a “Wi-Fi network" for the brain that emerged (presumably - like everything else in Darwinian theory) because it aided “survival of the fittest.”

This strikes me as typical Reductionist logic (or non-logic), and here's my analogy: For the Reductionists to claim that consciousness "emerged" because it aided “survival” is the equivalent of saying that "Oil emerged in Saudi Arabia because it aided survival.”

Of course, describing Saudi Arabia's relationship to oil in that way is ridiculous.

After all, the oil was already THERE!


That statement doesn't tell us WHAT the oil is or WHERE it came from.

And yet, that's precisely how the Reductionists explain the emergence of consciousness. We needed consciousness for "survival" (a Wi-Fi network for the brain ) and then - like a magic trick - it just "emerged."

And this is called "science?"

2 comments:

Chuck said...

"For the Reductionists to claim that consciousness "emerged" because it aided “survival” is the equivalent of saying that "Oil emerged in Saudi Arabia because it aided survival.”"

Really bad analogy. Oil is something Saudis stumbled upon. They didn't develop along with oil. A better analogy would be that "tool-making evolved because it aided survival." Humans developed in tandem with tools and consciousness. Your analogy actually speaks to the idiocy of belief in God: just like the Saudis found Oil - providing their saving grace - humans found God. Both happened after Saudis and humans were fully developed.

Todd White said...

CR: “A better analogy would be that 'tool-making evolved because it aided survival.' Humans developed in tandem with tools and consciousness.”

TW: Chuck, you're just repeating Richard Dawkins' line in my essay, which - as I demonstrated - doesn’t tell us anything about WHAT consciousness IS or WHERE it came from.

The explanation by Dawkins is supposed to sound smart, but it actually begs more questions than it answers. It makes as much sense as my Saudi Arabia-analogy (which is precisely why I used it)

CR: “Your analogy actually speaks to the idiocy of belief in God.”

TW: Wow, “belief in God” is “idiocy?” Even when I was an atheist, I would never make such a comment. That’s so condescending and factually incorrect. You are obviously very emotionally attached to your atheism, which is unfortunate.