The Hard But Unserious Problem of Consciousness

Some fellow bloggers have dusted off an old paper by David Chalmers Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness. Since there is almost always some obligatory homage paid to the Chalmers “hard problem” whenever contemporary discussions of consciousness arise, one of the posts is appropriately called Chalmers Again. The other post Chalmers’ theory of consciousness tries to glean the outline of an actual theory of consciousness from the paper. I am not sure Chalmers’s intent was to provide such a theory. Chalmers reveals his intent when he writes:

At the end of the day, the same criticism applies to any purely physical account of consciousness. For any physical process we specify there will be an unanswered question: Why should this process give rise to experience? Given any such process, it is conceptually coherent that it could be instantiated in the absence of experience. It follows that no mere account of the physical process will tell us why experience arises. The emergence of experience goes beyond what can be derived from physical theory.

Chalmers may think of himself as a materialist or physicalist but in that statement, he shows himself to be a closet idealist.

Is Chalmers Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness all it is cracked up to be?

Chalmers begins with his classic differentiation between the “easy” and the “hard” problems of consciousness.

The easy problems are per Chalmers explaining:

• the ability to discriminate, categorize, and react to environmental stimuli;
• the integration of information by a cognitive system;
• the reportability of mental states;
• the ability of a system to access its own internal states;
• the focus of attention;
• the deliberate control of behavior;
• the difference between wakefulness and sleep.

Of course, none of these problems are really easy. As a matter of fact, we are only beginning to understand how the brain and our neurological systems can do any of these things. Before recent decades we had almost no techniques to observe how the brain operates in real time and even the techniques we have now – functional MRIs, for example – are still relatively crude.

So these problems are not really “easy”. Let’s use a different word to describe them – “serious”. They are serious problems because they are problems we can research scientifically. We can make theories about them and test them. We can usefully gain knowledge and understanding about them. As it is with all science, we may never have a complete explanation but we can progress with them and understand more about them. This is actually what Chalmers means by the word “easy”.

Let’s contrast this with the Chalmers “hard” problem:

The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect. As Nagel (1974) has put it, there is something it is like to be a conscious organism. This subjective aspect is experience. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations: the felt quality of redness, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field. Other experiences go along with perception in different modalities: the sound of a clarinet, the smell of mothballs. Then there are bodily sensations, from pains to orgasms; mental images that are conjured up internally; the felt quality of emotion, and the experience of a stream of conscious thought. What unites all of these states is that there is something it is like to be in them. All of them are states of experience.

Chalmers goes on to dress up his argument with some science and an attempt to suggest the outline of a solution with tantalizing hints of “extra ingredients”. But his heart really isn’t into it.

If a problem is not “easy”, it is “hard”. If it is not “serious”, it is “unserious”.

The Chalmers “hard” problem is an “unserious” problem.

The “hard” problem is by the way it is framed unsolvable. It is restatement of age-old argument about the ultimate nature of reality, whether everything is matter or mind. No scientific progress can ever be made on the “hard” problem because it is a philosophical problem. No matter how many brain pattern correlations we make we can never derive “experience” from them. We can never prove the ultimate reality to be mind, matter, some combination, or something else we will never have a clue about. If I had to make a choice, I would pick the last but anyone should feel free to make any choice they want and they can never be proven wrong.

That is what we can call a “unserious” problem.

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33 Responses to The Hard But Unserious Problem of Consciousness

  1. Steve Ruis says:

    I tend to think that “experience” is an artifact of the mental power of imagination. Imagination is a potent force in survival. Imagine a small antelope being stalked by a cheetah. If the antelope sees no movement and smells nothing, then they go about their business. If the antelope had the power of imagination, it might imagine attacks from predators that might be there, there, or even over there and avoid those areas and thus be safer, and more likely to pass on its genes.

    But where does imagination come from? Where do thoughts come from? There must be some sort of storage of those things that are important to construct the imaginings from. These may be what we call experiences (the experience of red, the experience of pain when not feeling pain, etc.) all of the things needed to make a fictional scenario that informs our possible futures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • James Cross says:

      I have been thinking somewhat along those lines too. There is an article on Nautilus about remembering and imagining.

      I am inclined to think that “experience” is closely related to remembering. For one thing, there is obviously a time lag between events and when we perceive them. There is also some evidence of a time frame relating to experience. Two lights flashed close together will be perceived as one. It is almost as if experience comes in frames and events happening in the same frame are merged together. So we are constructing the present much like we reconstruct the past but with more detail since we have more information in the short term memory. There is also the fact that experience is frequently tinged with memory as well as the fact that experience itself frequently consists of memories or imaginings which are almost like “future” memories per the article.


  2. I agree that it’s an unserious problem. But it’s a problem many people feel. And I’ve been accused of not taking it seriously enough, which is what caused me to return to the old paper. It’s old, but the main issues haven’t changed appreciably in the last 24 years, which in and of itself says something about them.

    While steady progress continues to be made on what you label the serious problems, progress on the unserious one, the problem of experience, has been nil. I think this is because the hard problem is a problem of intuition.

    It’s similar to the angst people felt when first learning that the earth is not the center of the universe and moves, despite their deep intuition that it’s stationary, or that humans are animals and subject to natural selection, or that biology is molecular chemistry and electricity. Like those old problems, the hard problem will never go away completely, but over time, like vitalism, increasingly fewer people will talk about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice article James. I share your pessimism in some ways, though remain an optimist in others. To begin, I like how you’ve put Chalmers back into substance dualism territory. He said:

    The emergence of experience goes beyond what can be derived from physical theory.

    Right. Other than by means of a second kind of stuff, what else could such a statement mean? You then cleverly converted a “hard” problem into an “unserious” one, and so maintained the quandary while avoiding the same fate. I’ve got another approach for you to consider as well.

    To be clear, the only “hard problem” I see here, is the “How?” of phenomenal experience. I think that I’ve got some pretty good answers for the “Why?” and the “What?” of it. And even though I’m utterly clueless on the “How?” side of things, as a very strong naturalist I do still consider it “serious”. Theoretically scientists could build something that feels “pain” — I just don’t expect them to. (Or if they do, it may be that they won’t understand that they have done so given how private this stuff seems to be).

    Thus my own approach is to note the orders of magnitude which separate our machines from evolution’s machines. Evolution has tremendous tools, tremendous time, and no need to ever “understand” anything. Conversely we have comparatively pathetic tools, little time, and are always constrained by the need to understand what we’re doing.

    I hear you on the apparent futility of philosophy. Two and a half millennia of western study, and today we have a community of professionals with zero generally accepted philosophical principles to its credit. But I’m an optimist as well. I believe that a small community of professionals will develop certain philosophical principles that they’re all able to agree upon, and that soft forms of science will use these principles to harden up. Thus this small band of professionals should become a large community, and with effective principles of metaphysics, epistemology, and value, science in general should improve.

    I’ve developed four such principles that I hope will help move this process along. It’s my single principle of axiology that pertains to this particular discussion however. It reads:

    It’s possible for a computer that is not conscious, to produce a value dynamic (punishment / reward) from which to drive the function of a conscious form of computer.


    • James Cross says:

      This comment was in spam and I’m not really clear why. I did notice what looked like a duplicate so not sure whether somehow posting twice got them both flagged. I also note you seem to be repeating phrases similar to my post that maybe some algorithm picked up as a bot throwing a bunch of parroted jargon into a post along with spam. Other than that, I don’t see why it would have been flagged.


  4. Lee Roetcisoender says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily call it unserious James. It is serious because of the conflict that arises between the two philosophies. Wars have been waged and wars will continue to be waged, so relative would be a better descriptor. And that relativity is a direct correlation to an individual’s level of comfort with not knowing the true nature of reality. Like you said, it’s an age old paradox. Without an articulation of the ultimate reality there will never be a framework from which to solve the riddle of causation or consciousness, leaving both materialism and idealism in a lurch.

    The war of words being waged between the two camps of materialism and idealism is serious and will continue, that is a certainty. There is one anecdote that I would like to add: Most people may not be aware that theism, and/or a belief in a god is a subset or a derivative of idealism. Theism falls under the same umbrella as idealism. One ontology that does not fall under the umbrella of either materialism or idealism, an ontology which is egregiously overlooked, is a model called transcendental idealism. The word idealism in this framework is not associated with the ideology of idealism. Transcendental idealism is a model which represents an “ideal” model. What makes the ontology “ideal” is that transcendental idealism has an explanatory power that transcends the explanatory power of both materialism and idealism, and yet, transcendental idealism accommodates isolated attributes of both materialism and idealism. So, there is another option available for those who seek to understand the true nature of reality. And that model is definitively outlined in Immanuel Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • James Cross says:

      Kant’s idealism is just another blend of mind/matter and as I said anyone can feel to make any choice they want on the matter without fear of being disproven.


    • James Cross says:

      To add one thing:

      All philosophies are mental fabrications. There has never been a single doctrine by which one could enter the true essence of things.



      • Lee Roetcisoender says:

        “All philosophies are mental fabrications.”

        I couldn’t agree more and Nagarjuna is definitely on my short list of geniuses. Here’s my position in a nutshell James: Even though the noumenal realm and/or the ultimate reality is unknown and will forever remain unknown, it is “not” unknowable. This is where I part ways with both Kant and Nagarjuna. The empirically verifiable experience of having a meaningful relationship with the unknown is not transferable from one individual to another like mental fabrications are. The only way one can have a meaningful relationship with the unknown is through the direct experience itself, it cannot be transferred nor shared.

        Our primary experience has no fixed patterns of punishments or rewards, the only perceived good is freedom. Keep hanging in there you old hippie……


      • James Cross says:

        If you took Nagarjuna to heart you would know there are no ways to part. 🙂


      • Lee Roetcisoender says:

        I mis-spoke James, so I stand corrected; thank you. Nagarjuna was a genius. i love the comment he made to the disciples when he was accused of nihilism because of his articulation of the ultimate reality being “emptiness”. It goes something like this: “If our
        known world, everything that is within it, including the locus of consciousness itself came from emptiness, then anything is possible.” It is a comment worthy of an Eastern Indian Maharishi.

        Pary on

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Wyrd Smythe says:

    “If it is not ‘serious’, it is ‘unserious’.”

    But you’re the one who equated Chalmers’ “easy” with “serious” — to continue that, why wouldn’t Chalmers’ “hard” be “more serious”? You’re seeing “easy” and “hard” only as antonyms, but they can also be seen as on a scale from “easy” to “hard.” On such a scale, “hard” equals “more serious.”

    Say it is idealism (which I’m sure it is). Okay, so it’s idealism.

    Isn’t there still a question of how it is “there is something it is like” to be human?

    You may not see that as a serious problem, but I think it’s something I’d like to understand given there’s no precedent for it in the physics.

    Maybe it’s only such a big deal in virtue of the sharp divide it seems to create?

    Liked by 1 person

    • James Cross says:

      I think more understanding of it can occur on the scientific and answerable sides of the problem but the way Chalmers has posed the ultimate issue is not answerable or approachable. You can’t get from matter to mind because mind and matter are in the philosophical realm and are by definition opposite.

      If you want to equate “easy” with something that can worked on scientifically and “hard” something that can’t then that would align with my “serious” and “unserious”.


      • Wyrd Smythe says:

        But doesn’t Chalmers hold that we can solve the problem of phenomenal experience (once we figure out the psychophysical principles)?

        Which is why I don’t see this as idealism… doesn’t that hold that mind is the source of reality (in contrast with realism)? Chalmers calls himself a “naturalistic dualist” which seems to suggest he has at least one foot in realism.


      • James Cross says:

        If he does, I don’t see how, given how he has framed the problem.

        Let’s say we have perfected brain scans to the point that we can map absolutely every scan to subjective experience. Does that explain experience? I think not in Chalmers formulation because “there is also a subjective aspect”. You can’t explain subjectivity from the outside because it is inside the experience.

        He may think of himself as a naturalistic dualist or even a panpsychist but I think there are many who simply don’t want to go down the idealist path because they don’t want to be branded pseudo-scientific. They want to keep one foot in the door of mainstream science.

        If we can’t explain subjective experience with science and can’t derive it from the physical universe, then the only real explanation left in this system is full-blown idealism. That in a nutshell is the argument of Bernardo Kastrup. Saying the universe is a little bit or this and a little bit of that only leaves open the whole question of how they mingle.

        Or, you can go out of the system, beyond the dichotomies to something like the philosophy ( or maybe “anti-philosophy” is a better way of putting it) of Nagarjuna.


      • Lee Roetcisoender says:


        Would you agree that going out of the system is a philosophy of anti-realism? In a nutshell, anti-realism was Kant’s ontology. Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason was fundamentally a western version of Nagarjuna’s Two Truths Doctrine, a doctrine which postulated an ultimate reality and a conventional reality. Kant canonized the ultimate reality as Noumena and the conventional reality as Phenomena.

        Utilizing Kantian vocabulary here, an ontology of anti-realism clearly resolves the dichotomies created by materialism and idealism. One doesn’t have to like the “color” I suppose, but it clearly gets us out of the corner we have painted ourselves into. Continuing: I can hear the wailing and self-flagellation going on over at Kastrup’s website when I post this: Idealism is a thing, nevertheless, idealism is “not” a thing-in-itself. In other words, mind is “not” the ontological primitive. The same is true of materialism. Materialism is thing, nevertheless, materialism is “not” a thing-in-itself”. In laymen’s terms, matter is “not” the ontological primitive. The only question remaining is: What is the “thing-in-itself”, what is the ontological primitive, and/or what is the true nature of reality if it is neither mind nor matter?

        With this post, I have successfully insulted both camps of idealism and materialism. I certainly hope I have not offended you James?


        Liked by 1 person

      • James Cross says:

        Like Chalmers (I guess) I am not an expert on Kant but I am looking forward to seeing you post over on the Kastrup forum.

        I usually “pose” as something of a materialist over that if for no other reason than to correct some of the excesses in the other direction. I am also frequently pointing out that one monism is more or less the same as any other monism.


      • Lee Roetcisoender says:

        I used to post on Kastrup’s site well over a year ago, that is until I got myself censored by Bernardo himself. Kastrup takes himself way to seriously and the dude is hyper-sensitive to criticism. I used to correspond with him directly through email. When he chose to censor me he went so far as to post a personal correspondence between us on the website. That move was clearly under-handed and I did not mince my words when I told him what I thought of that move.

        Anyway, I considered creating another account and posing as someone else, but getting censored was probably best. I have to chuckle because my posts clearly had an influence on the old guy Lou because he still brings up my name every now and then. Some of the shit that Lou comes up with is a little bizarre, but if you can get past the baggage, he’s the only one over there that has his head screwed on straight.


    • James Cross says:

      I agree about the site over there. Not just BK himself almost everybody else is hypersensitive to anyone expressing any doubts about the orthodoxy. It is almost like a religion to those guys.

      I have ordered a book on Kant – a short introduction before I try to take on any actual works by Kant himself.


      • Lee Roetcisoender says:

        Critique of Pure Reason as a read is difficult, and most commentaries are skewed, so don’t put much credence in what the “experts” say even though much of there analysis is on target. If you’ve got a good understanding of Nagarjuna, you’re already ahead of the game and you will come to see the correlations to what Kant is doing. Essentially, his critique was to counter the prevailing paradigm of realism, the same model everyone is still struggling with today.

        One more anecdote: Lou is an old hippie from the pacific northwest in his early eighties. He “thinks” he’s an idealist but really he isn’t, and he’s not a materialist either. His position corresponds to anti-realism by and large. Lee (myself) is the guy Lou refers to as the angry insulting commentator, the one who hammered on the genetic defect in the underlying form of reasoning and rationality.

        Good luck


    • James Cross says:

      I know Lou.

      He seems to something of a peace maker on occasion trying to find middle ground. I sometimes engage with him on some of the more political, human history stuff, as well as anything relating to the Amazon.


  6. Pingback: The difficulty of subjective experience | SelfAwarePatterns

  7. jjhiii24 says:

    We are only now, in this epoch of humanity, beginning to approach a pathway for a greater understanding of the nature of human consciousness, defining our cognitive functions, developing a comprehensive picture of brain physiology, expanding the scope and depth of neuroscience, and figuring out how it all works. And in spite of all this progress, there are still huge gaps in our ability to explain how all of the neurological functions and synaptic activity and the electro-chemical balance of the brain and nervous system might be responsible for the richly diverse subjective experience of being alive. None of the science so far has been able to satisfactorily explain how these vitally important systems alone might produce our human version of the experience of consciousness.

    One of the biggest roadblocks, in my view, is the reluctance to even entertain the notion that some form of non-material phenomena exist, which can have some degree of causal effect on the temporal. Obviously, figuring out a way to demonstrate an empirical cause and effect to a phenomenon with no corresponding physical existence is an equally vexing or “hard” problem for philosophers. I have noted repeatedly in my writing that whatever non-corporeal aspects of being might exist, that they will very likely resist all our attempts at empirical scrutiny, at least using any method of which we are presently aware, but I fail to see how this negates the notion that they may, in fact, exist.

    In theory, we are in the process of making discoveries and broaching new frontiers in the world of physics as we speak, some of which suggest the existence of dimensions not currently observable in our three dimensional world. And yet, in order for what has been called “String Theory” to be correct or at least headed in the right direction, these “extra” dimensions must exist. No one is shouting about String Theory from the rooftops just yet, but there are a heck of a lot a smart people, empiricist all, working to figure out how to show that it is true. There are some who believe it is simply a matter of time before we do. This requires nothing short of a quantum leap of faith just to acknowledge!

    It has been my contention all along that the richly textured subjective experience of consciousness involves so much more than simply being “conscious,” and “awake,” which describes the waking consciousness of a person “when the brain is fully connected.” Most of the mainstream thinkers on this subject would probably want to avoid such an oversimplification generally, although many can also get pretty bogged down in attempting a more comprehensive definition.

    No one disputes the essential nature of neurological functioning in achieving an awareness of experience. All one has to do is observe the devastating effect of trauma to the brain to establish how vital brain function is to maintaining the ability to interact meaningfully with conscious awareness. Without a nominally functional mental organ, there can be no access to the world of experience. It does not necessarily follow, however, that the subjective experience of consciousness is created by the brain.

    It would be a very narrow definition of what it means to be human to reduce us merely to the biological and cognitive processes that support consciousness. Our lives and our subjective experience of the world is dependent on a functional body coordinated by a functional brain, but what animates the organic material in our bodies and brains—what is essential to being human—cannot be comprehensively demonstrated by science alone. One of the most important differences between cognitive human creatures and any synthetically produced arrangement of circuits or data bits that might one day emulate brain function, is that none of them will be alive!

    Chalmers has framed the problem well enough to support the notion that physical systems alone cannot account for the subjective experience which accompanies their complex functioning, but as a professional scholar and “serious” person, he cannot suggest anything too metaphysical without losing some degree of credibility. It is, in my estimation, a “more serious” problem than the other “serious” problems that you enumerated, Jim.

    It is my belief that there must be a component to human consciousness, ascertainable by us, which is unrelated to any currently established physical laws. Any theory of consciousness cannot be truly meaningful, in my view, unless there is some element within the underlying explanation, which points to our existence being more than just the result of a totally random cosmic evolution. While we may not presently have the capacity to grasp all the implications of cognitive existence, or even to fully comprehend the broad scope of the processes which make it possible, I find it unavoidable to conclude that whatever constitutes the full explanation, it must encompass much more than neuroscience, and may cross over into realms which may not ultimately yield to empirical scrutiny.

    Liked by 2 people

    • James Cross says:


      We haven’t communicated it a while.Hope things are well with you.

      I think where you are going is exactly where Chalmers would go if he followed his arguments to their logical end.

      I think our conceptions of the world are necessarily mostly wrong. They could be compared to hacks of reality. They may work to some extent but in the end they are still hacks, Science is just an effort to make the hacks better.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Lee Roetcisoender says:

      “I find it unavoidable to conclude that whatever constitutes the full explanation, it must encompass much more than neuroscience, and may cross over into realms which may not ultimately yield to empirical scrutiny.”

      Being neither a materialist nor an idealist, I am in full agreement with this statement except for the last seven words. I agree that any meaningful discoveries will be made outside the field of neuroscience, and that research must include meta-physics. A renaissance in meta-physics will be able to solve the hard problem, and that rebirth will require dismantling the models we have inherited from the Greeks because those models are the very obstacles which stand in the way. Once a new meta-physics model has been reconstructed, that model will unravel the mystery, providing an explanation that will ultimately yield itself to direct empirical scrutiny.

      I checked out the posting listed John. That is one beautifully precious little granddaughter you are holding. Congratulations…..

      Be in Peace


      • jjhiii24 says:


        It would please me greatly should we, one day, “dismantle the models we have inherited from the Greeks,” and then produce “a new meta-physics model,” whose explanation “will ultimately yield itself to direct empirical scrutiny.” It would be an extraordinary accomplishment to “solve the hard problem,” and your confidence in such an outcome is laudable, even if it ends up being overly-optimistic. I do not share your confidence that such an outcome will be forthcoming, but would welcome it should it be possible.

        Many of my inclinations and ideas regarding the true nature of human consciousness have been encouraged by my study of the writings of Carl Jung, who wrote extensively and powerfully about the how his views were greatly influenced not only by his empirical approach to his every endeavor, but also by being open to potential explanations with a meta-physical component. In his reply to theologist Martin Buber in “Religion and Psychology,” Jung describes those with so many different opinions of him as “meta-physicians,” who “for one reason or another think they know about unknowable things in the beyond.” He goes on to say:

        “I very much doubt whether our conception of a thing is identical with the nature of the thing itself, and this for very obvious scientific reasons…No empiricist in his senses would believe his models to be the eternal truth itself. He knows too well how many changes any kind of reality undergoes in becoming a conscious representation.”

        This conversation here on Jim’s page is a tribute to his willingness to share the space with so many diverse and interesting views, and even though a variety of those participating hold starkly different positions on the subject, each of us welcomes the chance to learn and expand our understanding. I am clearly enthusiastic about such conversations and appreciate your comments very much. The arrival of my granddaughter into my current world and the development of our ever-increasing familial bond is, for me, a powerful affirmation of the existence of the human spirit. Holding her in my arms and gazing steadily into her eyes inspires and uplifts me in ways that make any suggestion of a materialist view being sufficient to explain consciousness simply…insufficient.


    • Lee Roetcisoender says:

      Thanks for responding John. I’m just a sixty-six year old hippie like yourself with shoulder length gray hair, a mustache and goatee. My enthusiasm and confidence is tempered somewhat by the fact that this old hippie has been to the brink of insanity and back. This is due to the fact that I’ve suffered from the debilitating disease of depression most of my adult life. As terrible as the experience was, (and I wouldn’t wish that experience on my worst enemy) it conditioned me to break from the discrete, binary system of rationality. Not many, if any of those who read my posts know that about me. That experience gives me an advantage that most people do not possess. I outlined that journey in my first book, “The Wizard’s Reign: An Inquiry into Acceptable Norms” which is a self-portrait.

      My second book, “The Immortal Principle: A Reference Point” is ready to go to press, but to be perfectly honest with you John, I am reluctant to make what I have discovered public. My wife of forty-five years advises me against going public. I’ve successfully dismantled the Greek architecture of subject/object (SOM) and built a new model. The study of consciousness was not originally on my docket, it was more or less an adjunct to my research. But when my theories finally coalesced after nearly forty years of effort and research, consciousness fell into place and became a part of my overall thesis. I’ve successfully accomplished what I set out to do. Much of my participation in blogs such as John’s, as well as others, has been a testing ground for my theories.

      At the end of the day I am compelled to consider: Does my theory account for causation; not some of the time, but every time? And the answer is yes. Does my model explain motion and form? The answer is yes. Does my model solve the hard problem of consciousness? And the answer is yes. Does my model define a core human nature? Again, the answer is yes. In short, my model works. Do I like it? The answer is no, because even though it has been thoroughly tested and can be both scientifically and empirically verified, I still don’t like because it is simply not what I expected the true nature of reality to be. So, I ask myself, what did you expect the true nature of reality to be? And the answer I have to offer myself is “I don’t know, all I know is that I didn’t expect it to be this.” So, if I don’t like it in spite of the fact that it works, sure as hell nobody else is going to like either.

      In many ways, I think humanity is better off believing in the myths that sustain us. At the end of the day, nobody is really being harmed by those myths because they give us comfort in an uncertain reality.

      From one old man to another, be at peace John


  8. ptero9 says:

    Love the discussion and topic here. I’m fine with letting the mystery be, but would add that our knowledge is obviously limited by the very vehicle that poses the question. If our response to the question, on the other hand, didn’t have any influence on each of us, and the culture at large, I suppose we’d have less reason to want to know, or at least entertain reasonable notions of why our answers are meaningful.

    The materialist view that there is no consciousness outside of the body is frankly irksome to me because I see that at root, it limits our ability to be sensitive to other forms of consciousness and sentience. We can much more easily pollute the planet, mistreat animals, children and each other when we are convinced of either their lack or deficiency of consciousness, or that the moral nature of their consciousness is somehow not worthy of out respect. For this reasoning alone, I will never place myself in the materialist camp.

    Thank you, James!

    (Always good to hear from you too, John)

    Liked by 2 people

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