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"Science Of Consciousness" Is Pseudo-science

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Posted by Aurino Souza on May 16, 2003 16:19:19 UTC

Harv,

I agree with what you said about the relationship between philosophy and science, except I think 'consciousness' has no place in science anymore than gods or spirits do. The essential quality of consciousness, the very thing that defines it, is its irrelevance. Now there's a subtle issue here that some people cannot appreciate, which is the fact that, from a scientific perspective, human behaviour is fully accountable on the basis of neurology alone. There's no need for a "ghost in the machine" to explain neurological processes.

I'm not saying there isn't really a ghost in the machine, a soul, some sort of phenomenom going on in our brains which we, from a subjective perspective, perceive as being somewhat special and mysterious. Maybe there is, maybe there isn't, all I'm saying is that the question is not a legitimate one from a scientific perspective. The problem of consciousness is a pseudo-problem, and all answers are pseudo-answers.

What gives legitimacy to a scientific question? You should know this. If a question is scientifically legitimate, then there exists at least one possible physical experiment which can be used to select between two competing theories. As the Chinese Room thought experiment conclusively demonstrates, there exists no such physical experiment for consciousness, for the simple reason that consciousness is defined as non-physical by nature. Even an epiphenomenom of the brain is still not physical and therefore not measureable.

I asked a question which I consider extremely important, and nobody so far addressed it. The question is, if you believe you are conscious, how do you know that other people are conscious as well? It's an extremely tricky question, albeit a purely philosophical one.

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