Once again has Scientia Salon sparked my response engine, this time in an investigation of David Chalmers’ “zombie” argument against a physicalist theory of the mind. (http://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/p-zombies-are-inconceivable-with-notes-on-the-idea-of-metaphysical-possibility/.) I include here only the first paragraph of the comment I submitted in response, as the rest of it involves a technical argument not pertaining to the blog I’m doing here. But the general issue of my first paragraph is worth remarking here:
I’m not ready to abandon the notion of consciousness – although overused, the notion also has some important uses; but I do think that we are getting closer, through a number of disciplines, to discovery that whatever we mean by the term arises from our brain’s functioning within our environment as a result of evolution. So any argument that suggests otherwise – that consciousness is some cloud of something or other swarming around inside or above our heads – or that it is ‘soul,’ ‘spirit,’ some irreducible life-force unshared with other organisms, whatever – seems mere obstruction to our better understanding of the real complexities of the human brain and its remarkable self-awareness. Such arguments will always prove to be meta-physical; but good metaphysics has to be earned; as Pierce insisted, it has to account for the science of its day.