01 November 2014

Consciousness, and Dennet's Kinds of Minds

Just read Daniel Dennett's Kinds of Minds/ Toward and Understanding of Consciousness. To be fair, he does say, as a philosopher, he is posing questions not delivering answers. But I think I grasped his points reasonably well, and I remain more than skeptical. He attempts to demonstrate that mental activity is the aggregate of intentional (but not aware; this is philosophical jargon) processes, and that language, both internal and external, is essential to human self-awareness. 

Sure, I get that, and that seems relatively obvious to me, but I still find his entire commentary goes almost nowhere down the road of explaining either the how or the why (if why even means anything in this context) of awareness itself. Why should a brain or mind evolve that has inner experience, and how is it that that inner experience exists uniquely as "my experience" as opposed to some "other experience?"  He ridicules this very question, but he doesn't answer it or, to me, satisfactorily explain why it isn't a valid question. 

I still find the very existence of internal awareness almost a complete mystery. Religion, including the meditative kind, can offer a great deal of insight into the experience of consciousness, but it isn't any more successful at explaining it than science.

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