Reading Assignments

Here’s an article that might interest many of you by David Gelernter. It touches on some of the themes that have been discussed here lately – transhumanism and the argument that subjective awareness is an illusion. Gelernter is a professor of computer science at Yale and was also someone who was seriously injured by the Unabomber. Here’s a sample:

But that is not enough for the philosophers of mind. Many wish to banish subjectivity altogether. “The history of philosophy of mind over the past one hundred years,” the eminent philosopher John Searle has written, “has been in large part an attempt to get rid of the mental”—i.e., the subjective—“by showing that no mental phenomena exist over and above physical phenomena.”

Why bother? Because to present-day philosophers, Searle writes, “the subjectivist ontology of the mental seems intolerable.” That is, your states of mind (your desire for adventure, your fear of icebergs, the ship you imagine, the girl you recall) exist only subjectively, within your mind, and they can be examined and evaluated by you alone. They do not exist objectively. They are strictly internal to your own mind. And yet they do exist. This is intolerable! How in this modern, scientific world can we be forced to accept the existence of things that can’t be weighed or measured, tracked or photographed—that are strictly private, that can be observed by exactly one person each? Ridiculous! Or at least, damned annoying.

And yet your mind is, was, and will always be a room with a view. Your mental states exist inside this room you can never leave and no one else can ever enter. The world you perceive through the window of mind (where you can never go—where no one can ever go) is the objective world. Both worlds, inside and outside, are real.

And for something different, check out the blog Michael’sTheology, where the author is in process of calmly dissecting Peter Boghossian’s book. I know I’ll be reading along. Here’s a sampling:

I was with Boghossian up until this point. I have no problem with being asked to be rational, sceptical and courageous in the face of the evidence but suddenly I feel like I am being told by an authority where that Socratic journey should have taken me and I feel somewhat disappointed that I’m about to be excluded from what sounded like an exciting journey. I was ready to be sceptical and rational but have just been handed a set of answers (some might even possibly say a ‘worldview’) that I am to provide to my enquiring audience. That this journey is one into atheistic humanism becomes clearer as this chapter ends.

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One Response to Reading Assignments

  1. cl says:

    Thanks for this post. I like when you set your scopes outside gnus (even though these are both peripherally related to gnus). RE Searle, nail on the head: “materialists” and “physicalists” apparently don’t have enough processing power to accept at least two realities LOL

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