Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sweet Dreams by Daniel Dennett

My philosophy book club is discussing this book in February 2013. details at this link

Notes from the book
Sweet Dreams -Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness:

Loc 88 of 1933 " has been tempting over the ages to imagine that these striking differences must be due to the special features of some extra thing--a soul---installed somehow in the body headquarters"

Loc 98 "Is Leibniz's claim epistemological--we'll never understand the machinery of consciousness-- or metaphysical---consciousness couldn't be a matter of machinery?"

Loc 160 "... how can cells that themselves know nothing of art compose themselves into a thing that has conscious thoughts about art?"

Loc 181 "must we talk about zombies?" ... [critics of the mechanistic models of consciousness say something is left out, perhaps qualia, feelings, emotions, subjectivity, phantom residue]

Loc 190 "zombies--admitted by all to be imaginary beings--are (1)metaphysically impossible, (2) logically impossible (3) physically impossible or (4) extremely unlikely to exist

Loc 320 "Is there something women know about women's consciousness that men can never know?" ... "Is there something you know about your own consciousness that we others can never know?"

Loc 435 "There is an amiable but misleading tendency of people to exaggerate the wonders of their own conscious experience ..."

Loc 472 "... you are not authoritative about what is happening in you..."

Loc 495 quoting Chalmers "The justification for my belief that I am conscious lies not just in my cognitive mechanisms but also in my direct evidence; the zombie lacks that evidence ..."

Loc 575 quoting Lee Siegel "By real magic people mean miracles" [Then Dennett expands on the quote:] "It can't be real if it's explicable as a phenomenon achieved by a bag of ordinary tricks" [And Dennett explains the analogy:] "And that is just what many people claim about consciousness, too"

Loc 618 "The way the brain produces consciousness is quite magical"

Loc 684 "But that is the beauty of it! In a proper theory of consciousness, the Emperor is not just deposed, but exposed ..."

Loc 747 Dennett quotes Michael Tye: "Philosophers often use the term qualia to refer to the introspectively, accessible, phenomenal aspects of our mental lives."

Loc 753 "Phenomenal aspects or properties are usually contrasted with relational or functional properties of experience, but this negative definition is unsatisfactory- as uninformative as the claim that the spiritual properties of a person are those that are not physical."

Loc 956 Dennett on qualia: "Until one makes decisions about such questions of definition, the term is not just vague or fuzzy; it is radically ambiguous, equivocating between two (or more) fundamentally different ideas. There is no point in continuing to use the term until these equivocations are cleared up, one way or another."

Loc 1108 "So I stick to my guns. The standard presumption that Mary learns something, that Mary could not have figured out just what it would be like for her to see colors, is a bit of folk psychology with nothing but tradition in its favor. ( This is an invitation to philosophers to call my bluff and construct an argument that shows, from unproblematic shared premises, that Mary cannot figure out what specific colors will look like to her)

Loc 1239. "Philosophers have a choice: they can play games with folk concepts or they can take seriously the claim that some of these folk concepts are illusion generators."

Loc 1355 "Just such a quest is attempted by Ned Block ... [when Block states] "Phenomenality is experience." But what does this mean"

Loc 1376 "...something that lies somehow in between the causes of consciousness and it's effects"

I keep hearing this word bandied about. So I will put the definition here. Maybe others will have insight into its meaning
1. the theory that the design of an object should be determined by its function rather than by aesthetic considerations
2. (in the philosophy of mind) the theory that mental states can be sufficiently defined by their cause, their effect o. Other mental states, and their effect on behavior.

Loc 1461 "Functionalism in this broadest sense is so ubiquitous in science that it is tantamount to a reigning presumption of all of science"

Loc 1488 "Some neuroscientists have thus muddied the waters but befriending qualia ..."

Loc 1560 "A particular popular version is Ned Block's proposed distinction between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness ...". ... "the political access that some contents may have to the reins of power in the ongoing struggle to control the body."

Loc 1640 "consciousness ... point of view ... subjectivity ..."

Loc 1647 "We don't just notice things. We notice that we notice things."

Loc 1681 "Phenomenal properties are, by definition, not dispositional but rather intrinsic and accessible only from the first person point of view "

Now I am going to quote Damasio from his book Self Comes to Mind.

Loc 3900 "...qualia refers to the feelings that are an obligate part of any subjective experience.."
Loc 3910 "No set of conscious images of any kind and on any topic ever fails to be accompanied by an obedient choir of emotions and consequent feelings."
[he discusses qualia 1 as the feelings and qualia 2 as the cause of those feelings]
Loc 4046 "The neural design that enables qualia provides the brain with felt perceptions, a sense of pure experience"
To be continued

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