Consider the phrase: “…to be aware of objects in the world, I must form a representation of them “inside,”in my brain or in my mind.” The purported locations of the ‘representations’ are not at all equivalent or even in similar categories. “In the brain” is clear enough a locations and would be a clear reply to the question “Where is X located?” But “in the mind” is completely metaphorical and does not at all state an unambiguous location. “In my mind” simply means in my thoughts or alternatively, something about which I think. A lover who writes of his beloved, “I have you in my mind,” does not claim that the beloved inhabits his brain, rather than where ever she happens to be. He merely states that he has her in his thoughts or is thinking of her. “She is in my mind” does not at all answer the question “Where is she?” To think it does is tantamount to a category error.
Someone who denies dualism can consistently affirm the obvious truth that each of us has subjective experiences. These are different issues altogether. In fact, I don’t know of any non-dualist who denies that people have subjective experiences. Not even the more radical behaviorists went to that extreme.
In a recent article, “Out of Our Brains,” Andy Clark takes up the question, Where is my mind? Some of us might even doubt that this question makes much sense , but Clark assumes it is a coherent question and is prepared to give his response.
The mystery and pro-offered ‘explanations’ of the “mystery of the mind-body connection” are relevant only when certain questionable assumptions and inferences are made. When I point out that the ‘theories’ designed to deal with this mystery may be superfluous I am not “simply suspending judgment on such theories.”
In an article titled “A conversation: consciousness and the connection to the universe” Deepak Chopra interviewed Dr. Stuart Hameroff of the Center for Consciousness Studies of the University of Arizona.
The interview is interesting on a number of points, e.g., Hammeroff’s attempt to explain perceptual consciousness in terms of quantum physics. This is an ambitious project that cries for scrutiny and critique. But presently I shall focus on another aspect of the interview. The interviews discloses some fundamental misconceptions and fallacies committed by both men. They fall into old traps and confusion.
All this talk about virtual or simulated worlds in the brain (or in the head) suggests that that we don’t experience a public world, a common framework that human beings share. Virtual world talk implies that I don’t share the simulated world in your head, nor do you share the simulated world in my head. Isn’t it a mystery how these separate worlds seem to intersect? Of course we don’t need to introduce such a mystery. The obvious and reasonable assumption is that we share a common framework, i.e., the real world, a public world as opposed to a private, simulated world constructed by the brain inside the brain.
We learn what a person knows by observing that person’s behavior and disposition to behave in specific ways. When that person displays particular ‘know-how’, skills, dispositions, and capabilities, we have reason for ascribing knowledge to him. We don’t have to inquire as to any specific state of consciousness or any specific mental act taking place ‘behind the scenes.”
Isn’t it true that if I can explain the evolution of beings capable of conscious states I have explained the evolution of ‘consciousness’?
The alternative is to argue that when you claim that ‘consciousness’ exists you’re saying more than simply “beings who are capable of conscious states exist.” But this seems to imply that ‘consciousness’ is an entity or property over-and-above the reality of beings who can have conscious states, . .
What do Schopenhauer, Mark Twain, and Richard Dawkins have in common? They all thought that it made perfectly good sense to refer to an individual prior to birth.