Friday, 13 September 2019

What If Consciousness Comes First? by Sharon Hewitt Rawlette

Here's an excellent article in Psychology Today  by Sharon Hewitt Rawlette     (hat tip Raschau  )

Points of especial interest to Buddhists...

"...The issue is that physical properties are by their nature relational, dispositional properties. That is, they describe the way that something is related to other things and/or has the disposition to affect or be affected by those other things. Most notably, physical properties describe the way that something affects an outside observer of that thing. But there is something going on in conscious experience that goes beyond how that conscious experience affects people looking at it from the outside. For this reason, the “what it’s like” to be a conscious mind can’t be described in the purely relational, dispositional terms accessible to science. There’s just no way to get there from here..."

"...The key to resolving the hard problem of consciousness lies in the following observation. While physical properties cannot explain consciousness, consciousness is needed to explain physical properties..."

"..If we look carefully, we can see that all of the physical properties that science has so carefully measured and cataloged ultimately derive their meaning from the effects they produce on a conscious observer: the person who’s holding the yardstick or looking at the fMRI or gazing at the interference pattern produced by the double-slit experiment. Even the properties of the basic particles of physics derive their meaning from the ways that these particles ultimately affect the conscious observations we make of them. Scientific experiments cannot tell us what a photon or an electron is in itself..."

"...Ultimately, the hard problem of consciousness is the result of a category mistake. We have been trying to reduce consciousness to physical properties when it is consciousness that is the more comprehensive category..."

Read it all