Friday, July 22, 2011

Regarding consciousness

Saying: "Neuroscience cannot explain consciousness" is a little unfair. Yet.

I'll explain why.

First of all, neuroscientists are trying. And haven't been for so long. I.e., Neuroscience still hasn't explained schizophrenia or the role of DNA methylation in adult neurons, but nobody claims that it cannot.

But much more importantly, imagine that Magellan is circumventing the world. He has been given instructions to visit South America, and India, and the mythical land of Australia, and South Africa and the island of Chupacamba.

He comes back and reports not having found the latter. Now: it could be that he sailed right past it in the fog. It could be he received wrong directions. It could be he poshut didn't know how to find it. Or maybe it's difficult to reach, like the North Pole.

Or it could be that the island of Chupacamba doesn't exist.

All of those are fair explanations.

But if Magellan said that in the course of his journey he has not been to the other side of the moon, all of the above assumptions are off the table. Why? Because we didn't expect him to be able to to reach the moon on a ship with sails! It doesn't mean the other side of the moon does not exist.

(The moshol is imperfect. Moon/island existing = consciousness being a brain process.)

For instance, the physiological process accounting for being able to sense dead people or, say, sense magnetic field, is within the reach of Neuroscience. Lobsters have it (both of those abilities). If people claimed such an ability, and Neuroscience (after very-very numerous, long, and careful attempts) couldn't find any basis for such an ability in the brain, that would be interesting...

1 comment:

e said...

That was a suprise ending. you didn't wind down at all.