Topic: Hard Problem

Camp: Agreement / Approachable Via Science / Not a Genuine Problem / Physicalism

Camp Statement

Is conscious really a hard problem?
There is a very large camp of people who believe the hard problem is very real, and very mysterious. There are some of us however, who have looked at the data available to us, and found an alternative answer. The alternative is found by exploring the possibility that the assumption of dualism which creates the hard problem is simply an invalid assumption.
The hard problem comes from the foundational belief that conscious is a thing which exists in humans, but which is somehow different from the human body. It's this assumption of separation or difference which creates the hard problem.
If we back up, and look at the possibility that conscious is not something created by the brain but instead, it's just the brain itself, we find that there is no hard problem of consciousness. In other words, what if all the stuff we have been sensing which we call consciousness, or conscious experience, or qualia, is just the behavior of our brain - not something created by the brain, but the actual brain itself? If this is true, then there is no hard problem. Understanding why we have a brain is not a hard problem - it's not any type of problem.
If you ignore your need to believe that your own consciousness is something created by the brain (but separate from the brain), and explore with an open and objective brain, the possibility that all our conscious experience is nothing more than brain behavior, you find that this position fits all currently known facts about the universe, and about humans. However, far too few people seem able to do this. They are so entrenched in their belief about the nature of there own consciousness being a creation of the physical body, they can't see it any other way long enough to realize their belief is illogical and inconsistent with the facts.
I like to call this position physicalism. It's materialism without the belief in the magic stuff of consciousness. I don't have the hard problem of explaining where the magic stuff comes from because I don't believe there is any magic stuff. I just believe that I am a brain with a body attached to me, and that I can sense my own behaviors. Saying that I am conscious only means to me that I am currently operating correctly - that I am running as I should and receive signals from my sensory organs and producing typical and normal output signals to make my body parts move.
This purely physical position of consciousness is one which comes from logical and reason alone. It's the rational answer which fits the rational facts.
The alternative, is the position which comes from following our instincts. Anyone who believes in the hard problem as being hard, will tell you they just know that they are conscious and that their consciousness is not an identity with brain activity, but that's it's something more.
Believing that physicalism is the rational answer however creates yet another problem to solve. If physicalism is the answer, why do the majority of people in the world, reject it in favor of what their instincts tell them must be true - that consciousness is something other than just brain behavior? Where does all this belief of the separation of the physical and the conscious come from if it's not actually separate?
I have an answer to that as well, but it's too long to explain here. The short version however is that the normal signal processing function performed by the brain for the classification of sensory data into objects causes the brain to creates a natural dualistic model of our sensory universe.
So, the alternate view to the hard problem, or you could say the solution to the hard problem, is to reject the belief that there is a separation between the conscious mind and the physical brain. If you reject the belief that the mind is separate from the physical body, and accept them as being one and the same, then there is no problem to solve. But, for many, this creates any even harder problem for them - how can they accept as fact, something they know in their heat and soul to be wrong? They can't see their mind as being the same as their brain, because they know they are different, as much as they know their head is separate from their foot.
But, like an optical illusion, we just have to learn to accept the fact that what we see with our own eyes, is not what is actually there. But when it comes to our ability to "see" our own mind, this is an illusion which I find very few people can get past. And a prime reason they can't get past it, is that unlike with most optical illusions, we have no other sensory systems to verity the error. When we see something is moving with our eyes, but we suspect it's not really moving, we can close our eyes and feel it with our fingers. If our fingers don't feel it moving, we have reason to doubt what our eyes told us.
But when it comes to sensing our own brain, where are those extra fingers we can use to double check what we are sensing? We have none (without the help of brain probes which few of us have been able to play with). So, because of the lack of redundant verification of what we are sensing, we are forced to accept what we sense as fact with no way to verify it's accuracy. We are forced to accept the illusion of separation which we create for ourselves because we have no way to double check the accuracy of our answer.

Support Tree for "Physicalism" Camp

Total Support for This Camp (including sub-camps):
2.13

Current Topic Record:

Topic Name : Hard Problem
Name Space : General

Current Camp Record:

Camp Name : Physicalism
Keywords : physicalism
Related URL :
Related Nicknames : No nickname associated