The Hard Problem of Consciousness – The Mind-Body problem

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    What do you think about the hard problem of consciousness as stated of David Chalmers. Something that could be the biggest problem of Western thinking ever to come up.
    How does something like mind or consciousness arise from unconscious, dead matter?
    Where in the process does something go from not being able to reflect and notice, to instead be conscious and be able to perceive.
    We all somewhere now that we are aware and are able to perceive the world, things, relations and even our own thinking. No one has even come close to an answer for this riddle, the best guess seem to be that consciousness does not even exist, as proposes by Daniel Dennett.
    A solution that in my view creates more problems than it solves. That apart from it being patently absurd.
    Is it that some paradox was already built in before the question ever came up, that made us here in the West end up with this apparently unsolvable enigma? Could it even be something inherited from the ancient Greek thinkers or from where does it stem.   How does the Vedas treat this problem?

    Ashish Dalela

    What they call “consciousness” in the Hard Problem of Consciousness is not consciousness at all in Vedic philosophy. They are talking about sensations, feelings, thoughts, which are all material in Vedic philosophy. Consciousness is specifically the ability to know oneself or the property of self-awareness (the sense of “I”) as stripped from all designations (“I am …”).

    The hard problem arises because science has described matter as primary properties rather than as objectification of sensations — e.g. touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. Science describes the world as being different from these sensations (e.g. momentum, energy, etc.). So, they cannot explain how these properties lead to sensations. If instead science described matter as perceptual properties, this problem would not arise. So, the problem is fictitious but it is an outcome of how science has been done for the last four hundred years. To solve the hard problem, you have to overturn all of science and start from perception, not the external world.

    Matter is described in terms of dimension and value. E.g. color is a dimension and red is a value. Similarly, seeability is a dimension and color is a value. Everything is a dimension for something lower in the conceptual hierarchy and value for a dimension higher in the conceptual hierarchy. In short, to measure a perceptual value, you have to use an instrument that is conceptually more abstract than the thing being measured. For example, to measure redness, you have to use the concept of color, which is conceptually more abstract than the property of redness. In this way, the senses are said to be more ‘abstract’ or ‘higher’ than the objects they perceive.

    Science doesn’t have this sense of hierarchy. Everything is a material object, and no material object is conceptually more abstract than the other objects. Hence you cannot explain perception because the fundamental property of mind and perception is hierarchy and abstraction.

    Consciousness is that thing that is both dimension and value, because of which I can know myself. I am the dimension (knower) and I am the value (the known). Since matter can either be a dimension or value (never both simultaneously), consciousness is different from matter.

    As long as you are in the confines of this body, and identify yourself with the properties of this body and mind, you will tend to think that consciousness is this body and mind. To realize that you are different from this body and mind, you have to make spiritual advancement. So, materialists are never going to say that there is consciousness separate from matter because they haven’t made spiritual advancement. They don’t know what consciousness is, how it generates happiness on its own, and how much greater that happiness is from that of the body and mind. Unless they have that experience, how can they comment on consciousness? It basically some ignorant people talking to other ignorant people spreading their ignorance.


    Interesting, it seems that the main problem seem to be what is so neatly formulated in the principles of first and second properties by John Locke. What is real in his thinking does not stem from directly perception, but it is largely unknowable by the senses. It is that we can only know indirectly by measuring, and in Lockes view this is what is the most real.  And these properties are either something we have to measure in some way as is the case with what is real in the first properties. And then what we as humans add on, as when it comes to the second properties.These are colour, smell, and feeling, and they are subjective. A sort of an add-on from our human nature.
    There are many problems with these principles. For instance the defining line between first and second property is arbitrarily drawn by Locke, and there seem to more of that hierarchy that you mentioned in your post. For example what would we say about a red triangle, where the redness defines something that is supposed to be of the first property, i. e. of being a triangle (a rebuttal from Leibniz)
    But there is an even greater problem, in the end everything is down to perception. If you measure something as you would with the first properties, you stillhave to sense something(for instance see the measurement) . There is not really any way to get around that, and by that the first properties fall. Tthen we cannot longer claim that the second properties hold any longer, since the superiour reality of the first properties is what deem the second to be of derived kind.
    He claims  that they are add-ons or of a purely subjective origin.
    Instead it rather makes much more sense to say that perception is the start of everything and that there would be no reasonable way of talking oneself out of that. But how could it be that we could be so utterly fooled ourselves as to forget the priority of the senses?
    When  one really think about it is rather astonishing. Somewhere in the development of thinking something got completely missed, and that miss is lead the whole thinking that came afterwards to go astray. Or put differently, that we all started to believe in a sort of a illusion
    What would be the way to clear this confusion?

    Ashish Dalela

    There are problems in science now that can compel this change. I have written books on many such problems: (a) Godel’s incompleteness, (b) Turing’s Halting problem, (c) Quantum measurement, (d) non-locality, (e) evolutionary theory, (f) choice, determinism, and responsibility, etc. All of them require a new conception of matter. But it is going to be hard if not impossible to do this change in the mainstream because it is already invested in an ideology. The change will occur outside the mainstream, at least, that is my opinion. But it is also important to ask whether it was just confusion or a deliberate attempt to undermine the role of mind and consciousness in the study of matter? I don’t think it was a mistake. It was deliberate, and the ideas were thought-through. They just could not assess the impacts it will have downstream. Now they can assess the impacts, but they don’t have the power to say “we were wrong for 500 years”. Whoever says that will lose his job, position, prestige, and power. Someone outside — who doesn’t have these things to lose — can make the noise, but it will largely be ignored by the mainstream. Knowing this problem, I still make an attempt to explain.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Ashish Dalela.

    Indeed, there seem to be a lot of reasons that humans are tied to materialism. Yes, of course, prestige and power must be a part of the explanation for the popularity of this doctrine.
    I might also add that it’s much easier to argue for materialism, because it is such a massive simplification. How easy is it not just too state the standard argument? Then one goes directly into the ingrown train of thought. The well-trodden path. Maybe it is that the people arguing for materialism does not think too deep about the problems. Instead they jump to a bunch of ready-made arguments, that are in such a frequent use, that they are all but too easy to make use of.
    I also think that there is another problem embedded here, and that is if you start to regard parts of your consciousness as not being real, then you will most probably also disregard the effects of your thinking and other mental aptitudes you have.
    That will have the effect that the person under this influence of thinking, weakens and her abilities will be less. What usually is referred to as alienation. In the end your debilitated state will make you more prone to accept what is generally stated, the so-called common-sense view will be held. In the end, this will become reality for the person. This is of course a deranged reality, that if it was possible to choose, one would never accept it, because you are diminishing yourself. If we say that perception is reality, then it would be like cutting of the branch you were sitting on by starting to think about yourself in a materialistic way. This would be akin to self-mortification, a way into a more destructive and not very healthy thinking. It could well be that this tendency will enforce the habit of 500 years even more. Could not samkhya be step into a more correct thinking that also is healthier for the person effected?

    Ashish Dalela

    Of course, Sāńkhya can help. I’m trying to make people understand its importance. You can also help by popularizing it.

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