Posts tagged ‘experience’

July 4, 2018

Consciousness and experience

by Neil Rickert

One of the questions that people raise about consciousness, is that of how it is possible to have experience.  By experience, here, I mean things like pain, color, smell, etc.  These are often discussed as qualia.  I don’t find qualia talk to be useful, and perhaps I’ll say why in a future post.  But there is still the question of why we experience something, rather than nothing at all.  And that’s my topic for this post.

Can a material object have experience?

It would seem strange to say that a chair or a table can have experience.  If you think of people as material objects, then you have to wonder how they could have experience.

Personally, I do not think of people as material objects.  Rather, I think of them as processes.  I’m not made of atoms, because the atoms come and go, while I stay who I am.  To me, the question of experience is to be looked at in terms of processes rather than material objects.

Before we look at processes, I should mention panpsychism.  That’s the view that everything has a little bit of psychology and a little bit of consciousness.  So a panpsychist might believe that atoms have some sort of experience.

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March 6, 2013

How we confuse ourselves with words

by Neil Rickert

Quoting from a recent Yahoo groups post:

There is some phenom, X, that gets called “consciousness.”

Is there such a phenomenon?

A rainbow is a phenomenon.  The aurora borealis is a phenomenon.  A waterfall is a phenomenon.  But is consciousness a phenomenon?

Typically, we use the word “phenomenon” for something that we can observe.  A doctor observes his patient, and reports that the patient is conscious.  So, yes, there’s something that can be observed.  And if that’s what we mean by “consciousness”, then it is fair to call that a phenomenon.

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