It seems to me that I don't just have the intuition that I'm consciousness but the direct acquaintance with that fact. You can't be mistaken about the things you're directly acquainted with. That's why I think the existence of consciousness is even more obvious than, for example, moral realism.

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Jul 17Liked by Philip Goff

"What Keith and Daniel Dennett press on me most often is that I’m trusting my ‘intuitions,’ which is supposed to be a problem."

TBH, after about 11 years in school for philosophy, I still don't quite know what an "intuition" is! My best sense of how we use the term comes from Dennett's _Intuition Pumps_ as a kind of considered gut reaction to a thought experiment. But, it seems unfair on the part of the illusionist or, at least, I think it mischaracterizes the realist's position. I prefer your language that our inner experience (especially our direct phenomenal concepts) is a datum, though I understand why Frankish and Dennett wouldn't use that language.

Perhaps the realist's higher-level belief that introspection presents us with reliable access to our mental life could be considered an intuition, but it's no crime (philosophical or otherwise) to be an intuition. But, I'm not aware of any serious arguments against materialism of the form "it's intuitive that p, if p then ~materialism, thus not materialism." I have, however, sometimes felt that some serious materialist philosophers flirt with arguments of the form "p is merely an intuition in support of some position, so ~p." But, perhaps that's unfair.

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I think there's a much more straightforward debunking of illusionism. It's just a classic case of assuming what is to be demonstrated. It can't be reduced to a question of "being tricked into thinking" or "feeling" something, whether "representations" or anything else, as these very notions are themselves inherently mentalistic from the outset. If they weren't, they would be ruthlessly eliminated from materialistic explanation more comprehensively than the grin of the Cheshire Cat and cashed out, purely and without residue, as impersonal physical processes (not "information", mark you, a similarly illegitimate attempt to smuggle the non-physical into materialism).

You can't have it both ways. If the elements of the non-physical aren't in your supposedly fundamental ontology you can't then legitimately magic them up as part of your "proof" that they don't exist! To put it simply, according to materialism, properly analysed, you don't "think" at all. Consequently it's somewhat self-contradicting to argue that it's your thinking that's the root of the problem! But blithely assuming what is to be demonstrated in this way is a hallmark of the metaphysical grand larceny inherent in strict materialism.

Materialism is a position that is committed to a strictly physical account of reality, an account which could of course be internally self-consistent did it not subsequently attempt to appeal to strongly emergent subjective artifacts, which are neither implied by, nor available to support, a supposedly closed and complete account of purely physical evolution. But could such a constrained, impersonal view plausibly stand as a complete account of subjective reality? In judging that for yourself, you refute it thus.

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I'm skeptical of your second illusion claim and your supporting criterion that representations of edenic qualities still have to be reduced to physical quantities in order for such representations to be explained (found in your reply to Keith). Why does the representationalist have to accept this reductionist criterion? They aren't arguing that a physical state having a representations of properties X, somehow means that X has to be in the physical state, only that it is in the representation. Here's Dretske on this issue, " In hallucin-ating pink rats we are aware of something-the properties, pink and rat-shaped that something is represented as having-but we are not aware of any object that has these properties-a pink, rat-shaped, object. We are aware of pure universals, uninstantiated properties." (p.73) https://www.jstor.org/stable/3050525

Michael Tye also makes very similar claims. So representationalists are already committed to some kind of metaphysical relation (the awareness relation) to universals. Why not then simply say that (mis)representing phenomenal state Y consists of having a relation to the universal phenomenal property that would be instantiated by state Y? I don't see anywhere the need for the criterion that the phenomenal property has to be capable of physically existing. Presumably universals also include properties that only exist in possible worlds.

P.S. I'm not a representationalist

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Illusionism has its origins in Dennett and Kinsbourne's "Time and the observer: The where and when of consciousness in the brain" in which it states:

'What Goodman overlooks is the possibility that the brain doesn't actually have to go to the trouble of "filling in" anything with "construction",for no one is looking.'

Neurophysiological measurements have since shown that the brain does indeed do the "filling in". The implication from Dennett is that this proves someone is looking. :)

Both the phi illusion (Muckli et al 2005 https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.0030265, Larsen et al 2006 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16839290/) and the cutaneous rabbit illusion (Blankenburg et al 2006 https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.0040069) are accompanied by the filling in of brain activity to represent the "illusory" motion.

The original base of Illusionism is gone. Why does it continue?

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Although illusionist philosophy is a quite defensible proposition, it is deeply unsatisfying.

It lacks any explanatory power, or a way forward to explore.

I am a little puzzled by Goff saying he is not Materialist though.

Is not Panpsychism a wholly materialist philosophy?

( Perhaps the next post will explain )

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I agree, and also, an illusion is something that "deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality", and would we say that this is true of consciousness? That doesn't seem right. Sure, consciousness is a certain representation of reality that is true to us, so that certain frequencies show up as certain colours (or, lower frequencies of movement in air to certain notes). But that's what consciousness is, and it does give us some view of reality.

If I hallucinate, and see a knife before me that I cut myself on, that knife is an illusion if the knife isn't really there and doesn't hurt me. So, even though consciousness can trick us, it doesn't trick us all the time. The word "illusion" that some philosophers use on consciousness and free will is just a bad choice of words.

It seems unlikely that evolution would have favoured a complex phenomenon such as consciousness if all it did was to trick us. Quite the contrary, it was consciousness that made it possible for us to construct pretty intricate models of the world around us, and of the inner worlds of the people we meet and interact with.

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The question I bring to it – not your point, but the one I get stuck on – is: from what perspective is consciousness the ‘hard’ problem?

If you are playing rock paper scissors, and you ask yourself what the best play is, the answer is that it all depends on what your opponent plays, and what is best for your opponent depends on what you play, and so on. Asking what best play would be therefore has a self-reference in it, so there can’t be a right answer. Isn’t the problem of consciousness a bit like this? Treating something as a problem to be answered presupposes that you are looking at it from the outside. But it is your consciousness that is looking at your consciousness. (Hence the popularity of that elitism where other people’s minds are determined but I’m making rational judgements.) I find myself asking: if I had a fully adequate rational account of my own consciousness, how would that affect the way I think?

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"But all philosophical conviction is rooted in a decision to trust what seems most evident..." The history of science and mathematics is rife with examples of failed theories that were based on what seemed most evident... until the evidence changed. Newton's physics had forces acting instantaneously across distances. About the same time that Newton published his Principia, astronomy provided evidence that light traveled at a fixed speed, Maxwell developed his equations in the 1860's which had a fixed speed of propagation, then Einstein came along in 1905. Too, there's Quantum Mechanics. It requires concepts - such as negative probabilities - that are completely opposed to our intuitions. But we are forced to go there on the basis of the experimental evidence. So speculation based solely on intuition is just that: speculation.

Too, your position undermines itself. If consciousness is something that we experience for which we have the wrong explanation, then how do you determine which explanations are illusions and which are not? Maybe the "hard problem" is an illusion. Maybe the "problem" of qualia is the illusion. Maybe the reliability of your intuition is the illusion. You have no path forward.

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