Topic: Theories of Consciousness

Camp: Agreement / Approachable Via Science / Representational Qualia / Biological naturalism

Camp Statement History

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Statement : To quote from Wikipedia:
Biological Naturalism states that consciousness is a higher level function of the human brain's physical capabilities.
Biological naturalism is a monist theory about the relationship between mind and body (i.e. brain), and hence an approach to the mind-body problem. It was first proposed by the philosopher John Searle in 1980 and is defined by two main theses: 1) all mental phenomena from pains, tickles, and itches to the most abstruse thoughts are caused by lower-level neurobiological processes in the brain; and 2) mental phenomena are higher-level features of the brain.

Edit summary : alternative to functionalism and dualism
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : richwil
Go live Time :
Statement : We believe that we are the centre of our brain-based model of the world: this is a virtual reality. Subjective awareness is what it is like to be this centre, the self.
We also believe that science is the way forward for consciousness studies; the hard problem is a result of lack of knowledge. We anticipate that neuroscience will show that connected neural networks not only generate the model - a knowledge-rich, multisensory experience that comprises our perception of the world - but also provide our cognitive functions including memory, thought and emotion.
Any system that generates such a model would also be conscious, it just happens to be the case that brains do the job on this planet. We view the functionalist idea that an arrangement of tin cans could be conscious is ludicrous while the apparently plausible proposal that a computer with the right software would be sentient is wrong. Given the progress made in computer gaming and simulation capability, a realistic virtual world could obviously be constructed given sufficient technology but that virtual world is immersive and parasitic on the brain. The virtual reality model we espouse is not a computer simulation. The brain is not a computer running software that represents the world. Computational functionalism is false: nothing in or about a computer simulation could be conscious.
This camp agrees with the Updating Model of Self In The World camp that the brain generates a model of our environment (with us at the centre) which is normally kept in synchrony with changes in important aspects of the world (including our bodies). We disagree, however, with the idea that subjective awareness is what it is like to be the process of updating the model. Perception, like many processes in the brain, is not conscious: updating the model is no more conscious than fine control of movement.
This camp is not a subcamp under Material Property Dualism because we deny dualism. We believe there is one ontology, not two (the physical and the phenomenological). The world is composed of matter and forces, and the organisation of the matter varies across space and time. Some of it is disorganised, some is organised into inanimate objects such as rocks, some of it is organised into life forms, some of these life forms are conscious and some conscious life forms are self-aware agents.

Edit summary : clearer reformulation of position in context
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : richwil
Go live Time :
Statement : We believe that our brain-based model of the world centred on our self is updated by the non-conscious process of perception. The conscious self has some indirect control over this process (by, for instance, moving the body to a different location) but there is no direct intervention: updating is not conscious. Subjective awareness is what it is like to be the self.
This camp agrees with the Updating Model of Self In The World camp that the self exists as part of our brain-based model of the world and that this model is updated to keep our model synchronised with changes in important aspects of the world. We disagree, however, with the idea that subjective awareness is what it is like to be the process of updating the model.
This camp agrees with the Material Property Dualism camp that the functionalism that claims water pipes connected in the right way would be conscious is wrong. We also agree that nothing in a computer simulation could be conscious. The virtual reality model we espouse is not a computer simulation, the brain is not a computer.
We are at odds with the concept of property dualism. We believe there is one ontology, not two (the physical and the phenomenological). The world is composed of matter and forces, and the organisation of the matter varies across space and time. Some of it is organised into rocks and some of it is organised into life forms and some of these life forms are conscious.

Edit summary : First Version
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : richwil
Go live Time :