Friday, July 3, 2009

Magical perspective of science

I've been reading The Ego Tunnel by Thomas Metzinger. This is from Ch. 2:

"To form a successful theory of consciousness, we must match first-person phenomenal content to third-person brain content. We must somehow reconcile the inner perspective of the experiencing self with the outside perspective of science. And there will always be many of us who intuitively think this can never be done."

Count me among the unenlightened masses. I find these kind of statements fascinating for their frank belief in the magical ability of science to transcend the human condition. We are all trapped in the Ego Tunnel it seems, except when we do science, for then we are transported into the "outside perspective of science." Just what is this "science" that has an outside perspective? Is it composed of actual real people? If the "outside perspective of science" must be reconciled with the "experiencing self", it sure sounds like science is conducted by something other than experiencing selves. But if science is conducted by experiencing selves, then the "outside perspective of science" is really the outside perspective of science as seen and interpreted through the inner perspective of the experiencing self; in other words, it is just the inner perspective of the self kidding itself that it has transcended its own condition through science.

Science is, of course, very useful in understanding the brain and the mind. But everything mentioned in science can be traced back to first-person phenomenal content, for that's the only way any data ever gets into science. "Third-person brain content" is a confused and misleading notion, because "brain" is itself meaningful only as first-person phenomenal content.


byronfrombyron said...

Man, science must be some kind of magic if it enables sense of self to be eliminated and still allow comprehension. Maybe even mystical.

David T. said...

yes, that's what I've thought. Thought without a thinker, or as Socrates might put it, flute-playing without a flute player.