Friday, July 18, 2008

Amit Goswami

Amit Goswami is a physicist who has written a book I would like to read. It has a somewhat delirious title "God Is Not Dead: What Quantum Physics Tells Us About Our Origins and How We Should Live" in any case I think it sheds some clarity on why the mind-body problem cannot be solve through a materilistic approach: free will cannot be conceived in well defined terms, as an object or system of objects. (The phenomenal aspect of consciousness, the feeling, is also beyond what can be described or learned by concepts, it has to be experienced.) Amazon provides a quick preview of the book, which might be interesting. I am going to quote just a portion of what is available at Amazon:

«This reminds me of a Zen story. A man meets a family of four (parents and two grown children), all of whom are enlightened. This is his opportunity to find if enlightenment is hard or easy to attain. So he asks the father, who replies, "Enlightenment is very tough." He asks the mother, who replies, "Enlightenment is very easy." He asks the son who replies "It is neither difficult nor easy." Finally he asks the daughter who says "Enlightenment is easy if you make it easy; it is difficult if you make it difficult."
If you think of consciousness as an epiphenomenon (secondary effect) of the brain, consciousness is a hard question indeed; you are making it hard. Consider that an objective model always seeks an answer to a question in terms of objects. Thus neurophysiologists seek to understand consciousness in terms of other objects: the brain, neurons, etc. The underlying assumption is that consciousness is an object. But consciousness is also a subject - that which does the looking at and thinking about object(s). This subject-aspect of consciousness exposes one weakness of the neurophysiological brain-based model.
The truth is that consciousness is not only a hard question, but also an impossible question for materialists. [...]»