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← The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

Steve Zara's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by Steve Zara

Comment 18 by Tyler Durden

Certainly not an "unwarranted act of faith", as it's something we can actually pin-down with neuroscience, so no need for new physics.

Something about all this that fascinates me is what is the supposed quality of awareness, or volition, or whatever, that makes one think it requires new physics? The more you look at this problem the stranger the idea of it needing new physics looks. What could a 'needing new physics' quality actually be like? What would it feel like?

My view is that the reason why we end up with a feeling that things aren't explained is evolutionary. There has been no evolutionary requirement for our self-awareness to be so detailed that we know how it happens. There is no need for us to understand how our brain cells interact for us to have enough self-awareness to thrive as humans. So, we naturally experience mystery when we contemplate our own self-awareness. Our understanding of evolution should make us expect nothing else. This doesn't mean that we can never understand how self-awareness arises. We have the phenomenal power of science to help us with this. However, this will never change the fact that self-awareness feels mysterious, because that is the way our brains are constructed. We will come to realise that this feeling of mystery is an inevitable illusion.

Incidentally, I don't feel that I have been given any raw deal because of determinism and reductionism. These two aspects of reality make us what we are. Indeed, it's utterly incoherent to assume that we could exist without them: the alternative is that our minds are some sort of nebulous indivisible blob of something, a ghost in a machine. To me, that idea is the real reduction: It's more wonderful that we are an astronomically complex network of cells than some vague spirit.

Fri, 13 Jul 2012 13:57:30 UTC | #949051