The Loosely Organized Nature of ILP:

Daniel Denett, in Consciousness Explained describes the mind or brain as something that creates an illusion of wholeness or unity in a very non-hierarchical way. There is no one aspect of the brain, or the physiological infrastructure,

And from what I understand, most of the administrators that are here were not admins when the board first started.

I guess the question is:

doesn’t ILP parallel the way the mind works?

It’s like this self-sustaining system that doesn’t require a consistent regulating agent.

You’re quoting Dennet? You, of all people ?

FYI, Dennet stands for everything you don’t agree with.

Not everything, obviously.

You could either say I agree and give d a pat on the back maybe with more info to back him up, or you could make a counter-argument.

What’s up with the endless insults and bullying here lately?

I’ve thought of it that way too, d. The internet as a whole is like this. And the same kinds of questions can apply, that we currently ask about the nature of mind. For instance, where does the internet (or ILP) begin and end? If I make a note to myself on ILP so that I don’t have to remember it for myself, then maybe that note on ILP is part of my mind, or on the other hand maybe the little place in my brain where it would otherwise have been stored is not part of my mind. Anyway, we can question things in this way such that our fixed conceptions loosen up a bit, enabling us to function better. And functioning better seems like a reasonable goal of philosophizing.

I’m familiar with two other philosophy forums. Those two and this one all have very deifnite distict personalities. Though they’re harder to describe than an actual person’s personality.

To address the issues of d63 supposedly being antithetical to Dennet, I like to say I’ve read CE and Darwin’s Dangerous Idea and I don’t believe my problem with Dennet in those books is based on what he says, obviously it can very useful, but with what he doesn’t say. He’s very good at the type of philosophy that he does, but is profoundly ignorant on other types of philosophy.

There are also theories floating around that the illusion has more to do with the belief that a separation exists between people, objects, and events. Buddhism claims all things are connected, inter-dependant.

Which illusion would you rather experience?

Sartre said: “Hell is other people.”
Well, is that true, or is hell the distance of the perceived space between the people and their minds?

I’m kind of with you on this, Stuart. I too see that a lot of what he says can be useful. I, personally, believe in the feedback loop model of consciousness: that between an emergent property, the physiological infrastructure, and environment -an interaction that allows for a participating self even if it doesn’t run the whole show. Of course, I would have to take a few more runs at the book before I could confidently comment on it. But I think that, in the long run, I will be able to assimilate the book in useful ways -whether in the positive sense of of adapting his points or the negative of rejecting them with a clearer idea of what I’m rejecting.

However, having gotten through the first run, I have 2 intuitive points I’d like to risk:

First of all, he seems to be arguing, in his dismissal of qualia (and what, consequently, would be a dismissal of the phenomenological concept of noesis), he seems to be arguing that the brain somehow just seems to be projecting out into the world and relating to it in that manner. And if you think about it, doesn’t that process seem to have the same “then a miracle happens” phase that Dennett likes to joke about. It just seems to me that there is no logical way the brain could possibly take in the world without there being qualia or noesis. Now, Stuart, you cite him on what he fails to say. What I noticed conspicuously missing was the psychedelic experience. If we went on Dennett’s model, the experience of taking acid would be one of the world looking like it always does while the mind imposes its own fabrications on it. But anyone who has done psychedelics knows better. Reality itself is changed. Things tend to look more cartoonish or have a kind of candy land effect due to the trails. And could a chemical do this if reality didn’t happen in the brain through qualia or noesis?

Furthermore, I noticed that, in his attempt to dismiss the “Cartesian Theater” through his multiple drafts concept, he basically posed another “Cartesian Theater” –except in his the only audience would be the actors themselves. And I fail to see how this, contrary to Vol’s hopes, could not easily be assimilated into the feedback model that allows for a participating self.

But then, once again, I’ll have to get a little more comfortable with the book to get too confident about my interpretation.

Yes, in this situation, or I should say that the difference is that there is not even so much as an illusion of a unified self. Still, it does take on a personality. For instance: compare the personality of this to KTS. And don’t the moderators seem to take on the function of the super-ego, and do so in the sense described by Dennett in that there is no super-moderator, but rather individual ones working individually to create a unified effect?

You have to wonder (or at least play with) the idea that something like this could create an emergent property, a participating self that emerges from us acting as individual homonculus -much Dennett describes the brain. I mean think about it, ideas are kind of passed all about the board with everyone adding their own revisions. Except, we’re not as dumb or simple as the homonculus Dennett attributes to the brain. And given what the brain has evolved into, you have to take note what we are capable of.

Once again, think in terms of the non-linear feedback loops described by chaotics. The parallel here would be the board as infrastructure, the jam we’re engaging in as emergent property, and the life-world, that which we experience as a group and as individuals, as environment.

What interests me is that, if it is true that most of the moderators here are not the same ones this started out with, this has managed to sustain itself despite the lack of an anchor. It’s anagolous to the idea that physically, due to the shedding and cell reproduction of our bodies, we are not physically the same body we were 20 years ago or the paradox of the ship rebuilt at sea.

It’s like it’s become an entity that has a life of its own -much like a mind.

What surprised me about it, though, was the way Dennet went after Searle and his Chinese Room. I previously thought they were two peas in a pod -that is both being from the analytic school. In this run of reading, I’ll definitely have to read Searle’s The Mystery of Consciousness.

Chalmers (you read that Vol) is right at the top of my reading list as well.

Another thing, Vol: Dennett has recently been heard on Philosophy Bites talking about Free Will. You should check it out: … nting.html

The feeling I got from CE, Vol, was that Dennett was offering alternative explanations for what we experience as consciousness. I didn’t see a dismissal of it.

Having read it, I still feel like more than a meat-bot.

Thanks for contributing to the fiction that makes me whole.

[Extracted: d being sentimental smartass]

I read Dennet many years ago then I read, Sartre’s Being and Nothingness a few thousand times. So I reread pieces of CE. Ok, I’m studying Heidegger now, and I’m starting to think that Heidegger describes consciousness (or doesn’t) through Dasein better than Sartre through nothingness and the relationship between the for-itself and in-itself. I was bothered that Dennet is his few references to Sartre showed he hasn’t thoroughly read Being and Nothingness. Admittedly I only spent about an hour refamiliarizing myself with CE. I can’t remember much of what he says about qualia, except of course that it was “disqualified”. You’re right he does seem to reject the Cartesian theater without fully rejecting it. Sartre has been accused of the same problem, but trust me, he’s gone much farther away from it than Dennet. Unless I’m mistaken Wittgenstein is his favorite and most quoted philosopher. I recently heard that Wittgenstein is similar to Heidegger, but that is the sum total of my knowledge of him. I wonder if anyone familiar with Wittgenstein can tell me if he understands him.

While perhaps much of CE was somewhat original, Dennet was very cautious in one aspect. He wanted to get rid of any allusions to unsubstantiated claims, miracles, the supernatural, etc. As you said, he seemed to be indirectly making implications that would only work with a miracle, but if so that was likely a mistake. But, other than that he so thoroughly explained all that away, that there was little room left, in the book or his explanation itself, for actual content on how the consciousness worked.

The islands of the world are connected by the sea floor.


You’re right nano-bug. For someone stuck in the woods alone for many years that is especially hellish. After they learn how to meditate properly they can bring their mind closer to their body, but without help it’s hard to keep track of it until then.

You’re right, Stuart, about Dennett and Wittgenstein. He’s pretty explicit about it.

And we’re pretty much in agreement as far as our responses. Actually, I was surprised at how balanced an approach he seemed to be taking on it given the behavior of some of the materialists who champion him. However, I’m a little put off by his desire to take folk forms of psychology out of the discourse. For one thing, it would be as if one required a degree in science to have the right to make assertions about anything concerning the human situation. For another, it would shut out the achievements of thinkers I’ve found very useful such as that of Lacan or Sartre. Scientific or not, some of their points just work. But, ultimately, Dennett is just engaging in a little analytic vs. continental trash talk.

And as far as I know, there was no mention of Sartre (or any other continental thinker that I remember) in CE.

That said, Being and Nothingness was a profound turning point in my development. I just wish I could find time to set aside the backlog of reading material I senselessly keep building up on myself to go back to it. But word on the street has it that Heidegger’s approach is the one preferred by experts. Unfortunately, Being and Time, at my age and with what I already have on my plate, may be a little out of my reach. I’ll probably need you to give me the Cliff Notes version.

I’m in B&T reading group, we’re going very slowly so when we’re done I’ll be actually very familiar with it. Then I’ll just give myself maybe another month to read B&N one more time and I’ll actually be in a position to say who’s approach is better.

If you look in the index you’ll see where Dennet mentions Sartre and B&N, he really only has one thing to say and that is that Sartre believes in absolute freedom. It seems that is a very common view, but Sartre’s actual views on freedom are made very clear in the book. He actually makes many statements that convey messages like these; we’re only speaking of freedom in this specific sense, one can’t ignore one’s facticity, or most telling of all is this direct quote which is far from taken out of context; “…success is not important to freedom”.

You’re probably right. There was a lot there and I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed or forgot something. I always feel like I’m fighting a mild form of ADD when confronted with project like that -which is why I’ll definitely have to go through it again.

This reading group, is it real world or online?

And, yes, you’re right: facticity was a term peppered throughout the book. Sartre’s main point was to stress Free Will in spite of this facticity. Another point that Dennett seemed to have neglected was that Sartre later revised this perspective after he found himself the last standing advocate of Stalinist Communism. Sartre finally had to admit that a lot of his ideas in B&N were a matter of necessity. Throughout a great deal of the writing, France was occupied by Germany, and it seemed imperative, knowing that at any time one of his fellow resistance comrades could be captured and tortured, it was imperative upon him to stress and exaggerate an ideology that emphasized Free Will. But even though Sartre revised his position, I don’t he ever fully abandoned his previous views on them. However, to maintain the Marxist view he held throughout a large part of his life, he had to admit that there were some things that were out the individual’s control. … 80-13.html

It’s actually just me and two other people at the moment, but we’re having some interesting discussions.

Volchok: Please see the DM I sent you.