Dennett's Dangerous Idea LO5450

Doug Seeley (
08 Feb 96 12:29:39 EST

Responding to John Woods in LO5352

John I liked your discussion about our tendency to objectify our
subjectivity; it hits the mark.

You went on to say...

".. we need not sanction the 1st and 2nd person explorations of
consciousness. Rather we need to acknowledge that by definition, such
explorations are mostly 1st person in nature already."

The problem as I see it John is that this recent burst of interest by
various academic disciplines to "study the nature of consciousness" is
coming from a strictly objective and phsyicalist perspective as embraced
by the dominant catechism of modern science. In my perception of the
impact of scientific ideas upon our lives, particularly in this century,
is that major scientific ideas ultimately shape the way in which we see
ourselves and relate to others.

The denial of Science of the primacy of subjectivity or at least the
placing it on a par with objectivity, in my view will result in images of
ourselves and others which focus only upon the contents of awareness,
devoid of the conscious presence behind the awareness. These images will
render us as the mere information processing of various distributed
computational units in the brain computer, mere epiphenomena of a strictly
physical world. When consciousness has been completely co-opted by this
objective scientific approach, its authority in our technically-based
culture will leave little room for alternatives.

For me, it will lead to a kind of insidious and de facto inquisition of
anyone who puts their subjective essence above or on par with their
dominant physicalist perspective (such as the Arts, and the meditators).
Just like the dogmatic religions of the past, I see these
philosophical/scientific arbiters of what as real, as the priests who
defend their true beliefs (in an objective physcial reality). Does anyone
share a similar concern or have I just gone over the top?

Hence, John I feel that it may be a losing battle to avoid the illusion of
a 3rd person view of consciousness in our technocratic civilization.

P.S. There is a rather difficult discussion of a somewhat similar
perspective on this point in Martin Buber's "I and Thou".

Doug Seeley
		"Is there anything which does not emerge from something else?"

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