There was a link from Alan at One Cosmos the other day (Here's the link - thanks Alan), to a 'philosopher' named Dan Dennett, who is of the stripe that asserts that 'you don't really exist, consciousness is just an illusion of thousands of cell structures humming at once'. In order to back up his assertion, he trots out numerous optical illusions, and comments to the effect of 'see, it's not really a face, just splotches of color that your brain creates the illusion of a face from, therefore consciousness is just an illusion of little sense impressions'.
Sense impressions. Lots and lots of little sense impressions. That's all that you ('and I use that term loosely', he would surely mock) are.
This is really just a variation on the notion which determinists are in-fatuos-sated with, that of a perpetual motion machine, that with complexity, a sum which is greater than its parts is created and can continue on under its own power.
This is the type of thinking that typifies leftie thought, which has evolved the tactic of seizing upon a word, gutting it of it's meaning, and stuffing it with their pet interpretation, in order to lay claim to the respect and status the word had earned prior to it's being mugged by them; which in this case it is Reason itself that has been sent to the leftist Taxidermist. I should maybe note that by leftie, I don't mean just a political leaning, there are plenty of republicans that fit the bill too, but those whose core method of 'thinking' descends from the core ideas of Descartes, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Pierce, Marx, Dewey... etc.
On one hand, I wonder at the denseness of these misophsophers, that they go through these elaborate optical illusions, why go through all that work? First off, for him to say ‘You’ and ‘Are’, is to admit the existence of consciousness, Existence and Identity all in one fell swoop, to be ignorant of that and call yourself a philosopher, is an astounding feat. Then there is the fact that you are able to discover that an optical illusion is in fact an optical illusion – that itself would seem to invalidate the 'brain mechanics is mind'. But even without that, why go through these elaborate illusory setups, and he goes through a whole slue of elaborate optical illusions, why not just point out that a standard movie is just a bunch of still images flashed rapidly in front of you, which when sped up, make you mistakenly think that the images are moving?
There you have it, Boombadabing, your consciousness is just a bunch of isolated cellular reactions, which fire on perceiving those isolated images, giving you the comforting illusion of a continuous self, but it doesn't really exist. In fact, you didn't just read this. And I didn't just say it. Hey! Stop pretending to read! You can't do it because you don't exist! Existence doesn't exist! Consciousness doesn't exist, so stop pretending it does! Argghh! I said it! Ahh! I said IT again! AAAHHHHHRRRGGGHHH!!!!!
To continue, like the perpetual motion cranks before them, these misophsophers think that complexity, by virtue of being complex, will effect some sort of magical incantation transformation which will enable it to continue its internal processes without outside motive force, becoming its own motive force through our inability to follow its workings. But that is the illusion, and for some 'reason', they are enthralled by it.
The terrifying secret, terrifying to them, is that there is a motive force, and it comes from within. By choice. By conscious choice. The truth is, and the greatest mystery of all, the point where all axioms end – is that you, You and the Consciousness you posess, Are, and are self motivating by choice. If there is anything which comes close to perpetual motion, it is life, our consciousness, our soul.
We are creatures who provide our own causation through Free Will. Through Choice. And that Choice requires that it not be infallible, otherwise there would be no purpose for choosing – it would simply be. It is only with Consciousness possessed of free will, that you can have disagreements and error. In fact, you couldn't be fooled if you couldn't make an error.
Find an explanation for error, then I might be willing to listen to such deterministic silliness that we are nothing more than massively integrated cellular computers.
Computers never make mistakes. They always produce the results dictated by the laws of physics which govern electrical discharges, electrical switching, the motive force of computers. Computers always produce the predetermined results which they have no choice but to transmit – to be sure, those results might not be what we programmers and users expected to get, but that is because of some oversight we have made in our logics attempt to foresee and control those laws of physics.
Programmers make errors. Errors can only be made by conscious beings possessing free will. And that consciousness isn't just a series of switches being flipped - its something else and something more, something that only arises through living breathing creatures.
There is a you inside your body, and it isn't explainable by its physical parts, anymore than Vision is explainable by the physical components of the Eye. We can see how it operates, all the cells which are involved in firing & transmitting the data of sight for us to see, but the vision which is served up by the processes of eyesight, is something outside of and above it, a conduit of You.
Programmers make mistakes, because we become focused upon the logic of our code, we fail to take into account the wider world of the User’s concerns and intentions, we become so focused upon the switches and loops in our codified logic, that we forget to take a step back and take in the wider perspective of the application and the world in which the User will use it.
And that is just what our misophsopher does as well. He becomes so focused in on the perceived mechanics of brain operation, that he mistakes the mechanics for the Conscious mind being served by it. He falls into the trap of logic chopping, of thinking that because his logic is seemingly internally consistent, that he forgets to check whether or not it just might be in conflict with the wider context of the world and life, within which it operates.
Forgetting to take in the wider perspective of life within the world (inner and outer), is precisely the mistake which our misophsopher makes, it is also one of the mistakes that a criminal makes when he decides that taking something which doesn’t belong to him will be a benefit – and it may be - for a moment perhaps, but for a lifetime – not so much. It is the mistake that a Paris Hilton makes, thinking that looking good is more important than being good – and for the picture-byte, it may be - perhaps, but for a life worth living? – not so much.
These two are the inevitable consequences of Free Will exercised (particularly under the influence of Descartes, Rousseau, Kant, etc.) without willfully taking into account the wider perspectives of the whole of life, the depths of the whole of life – that which can only be grasped at through consideration of The Good, The Beautiful and The True.
While The Good, The Beautiful and The True are denigrated or dismissed by our logic chopping intellectual e-lite’s, we are guaranteed to be plagued with a steady and continuous flow of these walking embodiments of metaphysical mistakes.
More in the next post...