Thursday, March 02, 2017

Just matter, never mind …

Is Consciousness and Illusion? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
If I understand [Dennett], this requires us to interpret ourselves behavioristically: when it seems to me that I have a subjective conscious experience, that experience is just a belief, manifested in what I am inclined to say. 
But in that case we can only compare one belief to another. There is no point in wondering if one  is true or the other not. Both just are. Even if our belief changes, it is not we who have changed it. We don't do anything. We just happen, whatever that means.
Perhaps a better approach would be to take experience as given and see where it leads, as opposed to trying to explain it away from the outset, which also, by the way, involves regarding the thought process by which one explains it away as an illusion.

Much talk in this piece about memes, which Dennett defines as follows: "They are a kind of way of behaving (roughly) that can be copied, transmitted, remembered, taught, shunned, denounced, brandished, ridiculed, parodied, censored, hallowed."
Well, do they exist independently somewhere, or are we just talking about styles, fashions, forms, memories, etc. that catch on and get passed along? Is the sonnet a meme? Is metrical language? Oh, I get it, we have a culture because … we have cultural practices and artifacts. When I last checked, evolution had to do with biology. What is the precise biological component of memes? Is there any?


  1. Jeff Mauvais11:25 PM

    Frank, I agree with you about 'memes'. When I was studying anthropology, we called them culturally-transmitted behaviors. Seemed like a perfectly adequate description to me. Eating is a biologically-transmitted behavior; eating with chopsticks is a culturally-transmitted behavior. Do we really need a new 'concept' to recognize the distinction?

  2. I wouldn't think so, Jeff. Thanks for a very good illustration.