Are You Conscious Right Now as You Read This Title?
Those who deny the existence of anything beyond the physical world (including the existence of souls) have a very hard time explaining the reality of consciousness. Some of these scientific materialists have gone to extreme lengths in order to maintain their worldview. For example, Daniel Dennett, a philosopher and cognitive scientist at Tufts University, goes so far as to deny that consciousness even exists. These notion has been rightly criticized by other philosophers as absurd. The respected atheist philosopher, Thomas Nagel, comments on Daniel Dennett's view in the following passage.
I am reminded of the Marx Brothers line: “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” Dennett asks us to turn our backs on what is glaringly obvious—that in consciousness we are immediately aware of real subjective experiences of color, flavor, sound, touch, etc. that cannot be fully described in neural terms even though they have a neural cause (or perhaps have neural as well as experiential aspects). And he asks us to do this because the reality of such phenomena is incompatible with the scientific materialism that in his view sets the outer bounds of reality. He is, in Aristotle’s words, “maintaining a thesis at all costs.”
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Thomas Nagel, “Is Consciousness an Illusion?,” March 9, 2017, https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/03/09/is-consciousness-an-illusion-dennett-evolution/.