An unenlightening disquisition on consciousness

Why Evolution Is True

Several readers sent me Galen Strawson’s new piece in the New York Times‘s philosophy section, “The Stone.” In his op-ed, “Consciousness isn’t a mystery. It’s matter“, respected philosopher of mind Strawson makes three contentions. I find the most important two to be uncontroversial, while the third is puzzling.

The basic premise is that consciousness is a property of matter—our evolved bodies—and one needn’t invoke spooky dualism to explain it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.  His argument:

  • Consciousness is not an “illusion”; it’s real because we all experience it.  I find this pretty uncontroversial. When people say (and I’ve said it) that “Consciousness is an illusion,” what they mean—or what I meant, as I no longer make that statement—is that it’s not what it feels like: like a little person in the brain controlling and experiencing things. In that sense it’s an “illusion”, but that doesn’t mean it’s…

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