A Note on Consciousness

An interesting aspect of the “hard problem of consciousness” is that we know about it. Somehow, the knowledge that there are qualia and that this is strange and difficult to understand, reaches the level of being content of our thoughts (and of our blog articles and comments to them). It cannot be something that exists separate from the cognitive processes because we are observing the existence of qualia and we are thinking about this.

We might gain an understanding of what is going on here, and ultimately an explanation, by trying to understand who this is happening, that the qualia are leading to explicit thought about them.

The resulting theory might solve the hard problem, but might seem unsatisfactory because it only yields words but not the qualia itself. It should, however, be possible to describe inside such a theory itself why it must appear unsatisfactory in such a way.

(This was originally a comment on http://selfawarepatterns.com/2015/11/09/why-i-think-we-will-eventually-have-a-scientific-understanding-of-consciousness/)


2 thoughts on “A Note on Consciousness

  1. the hard problem of consciousness isn’t a hard problem. it’s impossible. it’s an argument akin to knowing all the objective knowledge of riding a motorcycle such as lean angles on turns, engine displacement and power output, the braking system, the physics of counter-steering and cornering, how the clutch works, how the electrical components are wired, and everything else involved in the operation the motorcycle.
    the same thing with consciousness. an objective physical description of the motorcycle can be known, sure, but what it feels like to subjectively ride a motorcycle and take those corners is completely outside of a purely objective study. in fact, i would go as far as to say it completely misses the point of the motorcycle’s creation to begin with!
    maybe this is why the academics i’ve encountered who try to understand consciousness and teach at the university about it tend to shy away from the subjective aspect of consciousness, or worse, try to deny and explain it away as an epiphenomenal byproduct, and reduce it to some physical neural correlate, as if that explains anything about the purpose of consciousness.
    again this is akin to explaining the motorcycle’s operation by looking at the physical components. sure you can know helpful information about the bike that way, but to truly know the bike, and to truly know consciousness, there has to be a subjective experiment/experience of it, meaning the scientists must eventually get on that bike and ride it.
    and i know of two academics who have done these sort of experiments (not that they’re not out there), and they have reached similar conclusions that i have. consciousness, and our perception + interaction with it, seems to be more than a mere byproduct of some random biological-physiological matter put together through evolution that pooped out our subjective, mental awareness.
    thus, the bike’s purpose will forever be a mystery to the narrow minded scientist. however, once they start riding (after stalling out multiple times, and dropping the bike a couple more), they’ll get the hang of it and realize how truly oblivious they’ve been to the purpose of that bike.



  2. I have to admit that I never could really understand intuitions about qualia. What it is like to be a bat? I could not even describe what it is like to be me or to see a tomato. Sure there is a first person perspective that cannot be reduced to a third person perspective but I just cant make sense out of qualia.


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