Friday, March 6, 2015

Galen Strawson on consciousness: the problem we face is simple, we underestimate the subtleties of matter

Writing in TLS Galen Strawson runs through the history of philosophical struggles with consciousness from Descartes to the present day. It's a fascinating read. The take-home is in his penultimate paragraph (emphasis in the original):
At the root of the muddle lies an inability to overcome the Very Large Mistake so clearly identified by Eddington and others in the 1920s – not to mention the lovely Irishman John Toland in 1704, Anthony Collins in 1707, Hume in 1739, Joseph Priestley in 1777, and many others. The mistake is to think we know enough about the nature of physical reality to have any good reason to think that consciousness can’t be physical. It seems to be stamped so deeply in us, by our everyday experience of matter as lumpen stuff, that not even appreciation of the extraordinary facts of current physics can weaken its hold. To see through it is a truly revolutionary experience.
H/t 3QD.

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