Saturday, September 14, 2019

Some Continuing Stuff On Consciousness And Free Will: See Post Immediately Below


My point comes down to this: either "consciousness", in the sense of the "we" or the "I", is a neural process or its isn't', and if it isn't,, what is it? An ectoplasmic process? A spirit? No, it's a neural process by simple elimination. But that implies that, unlike our intuitive sense of our selves, it is a process that has parts, even stages. In that way, it's certainly not surprising that some parts of the process occur before other parts, but that doesn't imply that the process as a whole is not "in control" as it were, of the organism's behavior, just as an engine, with its many parts and stages, is in control of the motion of the whole. In the case of our selves, where those selves are themselves engines of a sort, we can get confused by a difference in perspective -- what appears from an external perspective as a cause, usually appears from our internal perspective as a purpose. And just as, from a determinist point of view, every action has a cause, from our own point of view, every action has a purpose.. 


It’s a neural process, agreed. And it occurs in stages, agreed. What I’m trying to say is that in us consciousness, self consciousness really, is an integral, inherent and inseparable dimension of that process. We can isolate the components of the process, the stages—assuming we can scientifically understand them. But seems to me a dualism to raise that isolation into totally separable entities. An analogy could be style or form and content in literature. As DT, once said to me—he won’t remember this—form and content are but two different ways of talking about the same thing. And I think the example of raising your arm more slowly next time so as not to hit anything on its quick way up is of learned experience, an aspect of self consciousness, having a causal impact on future action, on the entirety of the process that has us ultimately raising our arm slowly the next time. If compatiblism in speaking of the physiological or neural as objective and the conscious or self consciousness as subjective aspects is like saying form and content make for a compatiblism in understanding a literary work, then I agree with that idea. 

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