Announcement: Your votes are in! The January 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt.

Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Use this forum to discuss the philosophy of science. Philosophy of science deals with the assumptions, foundations, and implications of science.
User avatar
ThomasHobbes
Posts: 1122
Joined: May 5th, 2018, 5:53 pm

Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by ThomasHobbes » May 22nd, 2018, 8:27 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 22nd, 2018, 8:21 am
But science goes far beyond describing what we find. It explains why and how things got to be the way they are. It posits things not present, not capable of being sensed (iow not directly empirical things) and how these lead to what we experience.

I think you will find that the 'why' in the above sentence is wholly redundant.

User avatar
Consul
Posts: 1344
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by Consul » May 22nd, 2018, 8:57 am

anonymous66 wrote:
May 22nd, 2018, 7:12 am
There are a lot of conscious humans.... But, what of conscious animals? Is their consciousness an advantage?
I see some conscious animals and some that don't display signs of consciousness (mirror test). It seems to me that animals without consciousness are doing quite well.
See: Consciousness > The functional question: Why does consciousness exist?
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

Karpel Tunnel
Posts: 519
Joined: February 16th, 2018, 11:28 am

Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » May 22nd, 2018, 10:21 am

ThomasHobbes wrote:
May 22nd, 2018, 8:27 am
Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 22nd, 2018, 8:21 am
But science goes far beyond describing what we find. It explains why and how things got to be the way they are. It posits things not present, not capable of being sensed (iow not directly empirical things) and how these lead to what we experience.

I think you will find that the 'why' in the above sentence is wholly redundant.
1) that's all you responded to? 2) sure, but then the 'how' is also redundant in that sentence, since the 'why' covers that ground and we could leave it instead. Why does not just mean 'why did someone or something do things that way?'

anonymous66
Posts: 155
Joined: January 12th, 2018, 4:01 pm

Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by anonymous66 » May 22nd, 2018, 11:28 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 22nd, 2018, 8:21 am

But all this is a digression from his use of why. He could have used how and his main point is still interesting. Since we can imagine all the functions of animals being performed as non-conscious mechanisms, how did conscousness arise in evolution. The utterly determined chemical machines of animals do not need internal experience, they simply need to have those traits that lead to successful proceation. It would seem like awareness (consciousness) is simply an emergent byproduct.

His question has more to do with the zombie issue in philosophy.
Thank you. I'm pursuing multiple lines of inquiry, but one of them is definitely: Why do have/need that inner experience (qualia) that we refer to as consciousness? It does seem as if all evolution is concerned with is behavior.

User avatar
LuckyR
Moderator
Posts: 3133
Joined: January 18th, 2015, 1:16 am

Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by LuckyR » May 22nd, 2018, 12:46 pm

anonymous66 wrote:
May 22nd, 2018, 7:12 am
LuckyR wrote:
May 22nd, 2018, 1:40 am


Uummm... don't you think that homo sapiens has accomplished somewhat more than the median among earth inhabitants?

It is easier to keep animals down (hunting, domestication) then raising them up (training, genetic engineering). But don't worry, it's coming (if it isn't here already).
There are a lot of conscious humans.... But, what of conscious animals? Is their consciousness an advantage?
I see some conscious animals and some that don't display signs of consciousness (mirror test). It seems to me that animals without consciousness are doing quite well.
Every observable being's group has, by definition successfully passed on it's genetic material to get here. That in and of itself, is a very low bar. Though you bring up a very good point. Namely that while consciousness is a prerequisite for planetary domination (as I alluded to), that it alone is not sufficient (as you pointed out). Of course we are beneficiaries of countless generations of human activity, many of which didn't confer much benefit to individual humans (as compared to wild animals), so our perspectives are biased and don't necessarily represent the history of the human experience. Similarly, species who express consciousness may as a group not be as "successful" as other instinct based groups, depending on the definition of success. However, most would agree that individuals within those groups have the potential (depending commonly on circumstances beyond their control) for much more fulfilling lives than individuals without it.
"As usual... it depends."

User avatar
ThomasHobbes
Posts: 1122
Joined: May 5th, 2018, 5:53 pm

Re: Can Evolution Explain Consciousness?

Post by ThomasHobbes » May 22nd, 2018, 5:19 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 22nd, 2018, 10:21 am
ThomasHobbes wrote:
May 22nd, 2018, 8:27 am



I think you will find that the 'why' in the above sentence is wholly redundant.
1) that's all you responded to? 2) sure, but then the 'how' is also redundant in that sentence, since the 'why' covers that ground and we could leave it instead. Why does not just mean 'why did someone or something do things that way?'
Without 'how' there is no science.
If you want to know why go to church.
"WHy" is just a legacy from a time when people believed everything happens for a reason, and that reason what God's.

Post Reply