Naturalists struggle to fit consciousness into their worldview because it seems obvious that consciousness is not material in nature.  Various attempts have been made by naturalists to account for consciousness.  One of the strangest explanations is offered by philosopher Daniel Dennett.  His solution is to eliminate consciousness so that it does not require an explanation at all.  He does so by claiming that consciousness is not real, but an illusion.

Of the myriad of ways one might go about showing why Dennett’s solution does not work, I think Greg Koukl has offered the most straightforward and clearest critique.  Koukl points out that in order to recognize something as an illusion, two things are required: (1) the presence of a conscious observer who is capable of perception, and (2) the ability to distinguish between what is real and what is illusion.

If there were no conscious observers who can perceive, then it is impossible to know there is an illusion because the non-conscious do not perceive or know anything.  So if consciousness was not real there would be no way to perceive that consciousness was just an illusion.  If consciousness is required to perceive an illusion, then consciousness cannot itself be an illusion.  Similarly, one would have to be able to perceive both the real world and the illusory world in order to know there is a distinction between the two, and to subsequently identify the illusory world as illusory.  If all one perceived was the illusion, they would not be able to recognize it as such.

Naturalists struggle to fit consciousness into their worldview because it seems obvious that consciousness is not material in nature.  Various attempts have been made by naturalists to account for consciousness.  One of the strangest explanations is offered by philosopher Daniel Dennett.  His solution is to eliminate consciousness so that it does not require an explanation at all.  He does so by claiming that consciousness is not real, but an illusion.

Of the myriad of ways one might go about showing why Dennett’s solution does not work, I think Greg Koukl has offered the most straightforward and clearest critique.  Koukl points out that in order to recognize something as an illusion, two things are required: (1) the presence of a conscious observer who is capable of perception, and (2) the ability to distinguish between what is real and what is illusion.

If there were no conscious observers who can perceive, then it is impossible to know there is an illusion because the non-conscious do not perceive or know anything.  So if consciousness was not real there would be no way to perceive that consciousness was just an illusion.  If consciousness is required to perceive an illusion, then consciousness cannot itself be an illusion.  Similarly, one would have to be able to perceive both the real world and the illusory world in order to know there is a distinction between the two, and to subsequently identify the illusory world as illusory.  If all one perceived was the illusion, they would not be able to recognize it as such. 

Advertisements