Ghost in the Machine

From: Nicq MacDonald (
Date: Wed Nov 08 2000 - 17:43:12 MST

> Sometimes, studying neuroscience and working in a lab, I get mired in the
> minutia, and sort of lose faith. Then I read something that galvanizes my
> resolve. Goedel, Escher, Bach was one. Anything by Damasio works.
> is pretty good, too. This article was another.

I've been rather disappointed by Damasio's works. No matter what the man
attempts to explain through his adherence to physicalism, he is still left
without any explanation for why we can function as independent beings, or
what the true root of consciousness is. He explains nothing that hasn't
already been determined, and adds little to the philosophical dialogue
surrounding the concept of consciousness. Even the idea that all subjective
experience can be empirically measured still breaks down due to the fact
that reading into the precise meaning of every neural connection and
chemical pair would require the interpretation through a new symbolic system
based upon the structure of the brain itself, which would have to be created
by another mind- thus, we can never escape the subjective nature of
objective reality. Our brain just doesn't work that way.

Dennet's work, "Consciousness Explained", might better have been titled
"Consciousness Explained Away" (To borrow a quote from Ken Wilber's essay
series "The Eye of Spirit"). It is an objective, conscious attempt at
denying the existence of consciousness, through denying the validity of
subjective experience.

I don't believe that I've posted to this elist before. My name is Nicq
MacDonald, and I am a student of Philosophy and Psychology at the University
of St. Thomas, in St. Paul Minnesota. I became interested in the Extropian
movement after reading about it in an essay by noted "Ontological Anarchist"
Hakim Bey. After searching several web sites for data, and investigating
the core documents provided online, I noticed that the idea behind
extropianism is comparable to the backstory of a fantasy I had been working
on a few years ago, revolving around a future, "post-singularity" world in
which the great mass of humanity has forgotten how to command the
nanotechnological fabric that now supports the world, and is kept in the
firm grip of a dark age dominated by a transhuman demiurge, in which only
the gnostics who know how to wield the ancient technology have a chance to
escape into the transhuman realm. Although I certainly hope that our world
doesn't turn out that way, and I'm certainly not against the extropian
movement, being cautious can't hurt...

-Nicq MacDonald

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