Re: Conscious of the hard problem

Timothy Bates (
Sat, 26 Jun 1999 19:26:22 +1000

From: Rob Harris Cen-IT said
> Tim Bates' statement is not a simplification,
> it is totally incorrect.
> Good scientists are not in competition over "whose science is hardest
> to do", and Chalmers was DEFINITELY NOT suggesting that his branch of
> research is in some way superior to others.

I didn't say that. The Chalmer's school state unequivocally that they are examining a "level" which is autonomous of the neural world. This cannot help but lead to a sense of being "above" working on the brain as they are convinced that consciousness is quasi-independent of the neural level. It is in this sense that they say cognitive scientists are only working on the complicated but easy questions. The hard question, in their opinion, is not even approached by the most sophisticated neural theory as it resides in a different level - phenomenology. That is why there is such a big debate between Chalmer's and his chums on the one hand, and the eliminative materialists (Churchland's and others) on the other hand.

> As I said before, Chalmers
> presents this concept at length in his book "The Conscious Mind", as a
> pertinent observation, not as a juvenile throwing down of the gauntlet to
> cognitive psychologists etc.
I didn't say they were juvenile, I merely said that, and I stand by the claim that, "hard problem" philosophers believe that cognitive neuroscience is operating within a domain of complicated but non-hard problems. If you have a quote from Chalmers were he asserts otherwise just forward it to the list.


"Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind."

General William WESTMORELAND.

Dr Timothy Bates
Department of Psychology
Macquarie University
Sydney NSW 2109

fax 61 2 9850 8062
ph 61 2 9850 8623

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