Robert Fischer’s Reviews > Consciousness Explained > Status Update

Robert Fischer
Robert Fischer is on page 252 of 528
Chapter 8 is better, despite the brief reference to memes and virtual machines at the beginning. Although it's an interesting analysis of the way speech is done (and we're getting back in the realm of scientifically-grounded analysis), this chapter fails to account for intent and meaning in speech as promised. There is still an intention of speech—a "fitting in" of words with meaning—even if it may be bidirectional.
Jul 23, 2011 06:02PM
Consciousness Explained

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Robert Fischer
Robert Fischer is on page 444 of 528
In this section on what it's like to be a bat, Dennett explicitly conflates our inability to know for certain that anyone else is conscious with our own experience of consciousness. What it's would be like if I were a bat is conflated with what it's like for me to "know" you are conscious. But that's not the question being asked! (They're the same modulo heterophenomenology—that's begging the question by method.)
Jul 28, 2011 05:30AM
Consciousness Explained


Robert Fischer
Robert Fischer is on page 406 of 528
"We're all zombies. Nobody is conscious — not in the systematically mysterious way that supports such doctrines of eipphenomenalism! I can't prove that no such sort of consciousness exists. [...] The best I can do is show that there is no respectable motivation for believing in it." What about the self-evident existence of phenomenalism? Just denying phenomena exist is really unconvincing, but that's Dennett's move.
Jul 27, 2011 07:31PM
Consciousness Explained


Robert Fischer
Robert Fischer is on page 383 of 528
Dennett just went through 15 pages in order to say "qualia don't exist" — that is, aspects of experience (in a direct, non-memory-mediated way) just aren't there. When you see pink, there's no actual "pink"-ness: there's just a detector in your brain and associations hooked onto it. Why should I believe this account over my experience? Dennett doesn't have an answer, except to deny there is room for them in reality.
Jul 25, 2011 07:40PM
Consciousness Explained


Robert Fischer
Robert Fischer is on page 366 of 528
Ah, here's the rub. "There seems to be phenomonology. But it does not follow [...] there really is phenomonology." Uh, yes it does. Let's replaced "seems to be" with "is observed" and "phenomonology" with "observations", which are both synonyms: "There is observed observations." The very seeming of phenomenology is what makes it exist, even if its contents are "mistaken" or "gappy" in some sense. That's Descartes.
Jul 25, 2011 07:02PM
Consciousness Explained


Robert Fischer
Robert Fischer is on page 356 of 528
Dennett's dismissal of phenomenology is really driving me nuts. In his blindsight study, people say there is a difference between what they see and what they interpret, and he just dismisses this difference amongst functional arguments. He says you don't need to "fill in" your blind spot, but my experience of his blind spot experiment is exactly "filling in": it's like a disc of paper sliding over the black circle.
Jul 25, 2011 06:24PM
Consciousness Explained


Robert Fischer
Robert Fischer is on page 313 of 528
Well, this is the meat of the book: consciousness is an illusion created by self-referentiality. Unfortunately, the equation of "higher order thoughts" with "consciousness" is just wrong: computers have higher order thoughts (self-repairing/self-adjusting, homoiconic languages like Lisp), and I have consciousness without higher order thoughts (non-lucid dreams). The double-use of "thoughts" about zimboes is a trick.
Jul 24, 2011 11:39AM
Consciousness Explained


Robert Fischer
Robert Fischer is on page 307 of 528
Dennett is now attacking the Cartesian Theater directly. That's good: I've been frustrated by his lack of accounting for it. Unfortunately, his functionalism is preventing him from actually confronting the phenomenology: I don't just handle data as if it were a mental image, I actually experience mental imagery. He's not confronted Descartes key point: there's a "me" in relation to "it" in "it just seemed to me".
Jul 24, 2011 11:16AM
Consciousness Explained


Robert Fischer
Robert Fischer is on page 293 of 528
Chapter 9 is where all the official pronouncements come out. Unfortunately, this talk of "virtual machines" and "memes" is apparently here to stay, even though neither is any more "real" or scientifically accessible than Cartesian Dualism. The analogy with something that is "alive" in this chapter is particularly revealing of how little phenomenology Dennett is willing to consider or feels the need to account for.
Jul 24, 2011 10:06AM
Consciousness Explained


Robert Fischer
Robert Fischer is on page 228 of 528
Okay, this book officially came off the rails in Chapter 7. Up until this point, Dennett has been advocating a model of consciousness tightly intertwined with scientific observation. In Chapter 7, suddenly we're into the wild and pseudo-scientific world of evolutionary psychology and memes, which somehow magically become a "virtual machine". I'll keep on, but it sounds like he's just got new clothing for dualism.
Jul 23, 2011 04:04PM
Consciousness Explained


Robert Fischer
Robert Fischer is on page 171 of 528
Just got through a bunch of interesting experiments about how perceptions are intertwined with judgement about perceptions. So far, there's been some interesting analysis and insight, but the theory he's advocating is basically failing to wrestle with subjectivity at all, instead just saying it's "not necessary" and denying non-material accounts. It's a good model for science, but a model for science is not reality.
Jul 23, 2011 03:30PM
Consciousness Explained


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