Indeed, to even ask the question is to not know what consciousness is, which is to say, qualitative subject and not quantitative object. Why pretend it is possible to reduce the former to the latter? This constitutes the last word in reductionism, since it reduces and thereby eradicates the very entity that caries out the reduction. Truly, it is like jumping into a hole and pulling the hole in after yourself.
Why would you even want to do that? It renders your life quite literally meaningless, with no possibility of any purpose whatsoever.
No, that wasn't a rhetorical question. One could ask the same question of atheists more generally: why do you choose a philosophy that either denies the possibility of choice or renders it absurd?
Well, let's start with the principle that man is what he is, irrespective of what we imagine he is. And one thing man is is epistemophilic. In other words, man loves truth. It's in our nature, and there is no way of getting around it.
If you ask an average atheist if he loves truth, he may or may not admit it. But they always act as if they are devoted to truth, no matter where it leads, in contrast to religious folk, who are attached to childish, consoling, and self-deceptive fairy tales, myths, and superstitions. Atheists are the Adults in the Room, for they are willing to acknowledge Reality without compensatory hallucinations.
So the atheist loves truth as he sees it. Indeed, he loves it so much that he is willing to sacrifice himself on its altar, for he insists that "I believe this, even if it renders all belief, and my life with it, utterly futile."
The commenter with whom I engage below reminds me of this. I don't doubt that he is scrupulously honest -- honest to the point of self-immolation (his responses are indented, while my comments on my comments are in parentheses):
Computationalism is a priori demolished by Gödel, but its simpleminded adherents haven't gotten the memo. Sad!
(That was intended only as a concise little gag. It is literally and eternally true, such that it isn't worth wasting a moment of your life pretending the mind is a computer. I certainly didn't expect an argument against what is certain!)
(Oh and I'm willing to concede that I don't really understand Gödel. If so, then neither does Gödel understand me, and I'm in the right on this matter.)
Godel's Theorems are universal, applying equally to computers and to humans. They don't impinge on computationalism any more or less than anything else.
Yes, but in understanding the theorems we thereby transcend them. In Rebecca Goldstein's bio, she claims that Gödel's point is that man has access to truths that cannot be proved by the systems we construct.
Speaking only for myself, I know with 100% certitude that I have access to suprasensible truths that no computer will ever touch or even know about; they are translogical, not illogical. In short, the limits of truth and limits of logic are very different things: semantics cannot be reduced to syntax -- nor, for that matter, subject to object.
Besides, even if our minds were enclosed in logical tautologies, I would insist otherwise, if only because it's a more fun way to live, and it pisses off all the right people.
That's exactly what Godel proved is impossible. You can't have it both ways.
Use your right brain, man! You're free!
(By which I mean that the left brain is indeed enclosed in logical tautologies, while the right brain transcends all that. Which is why we have one. They are complementary, meant to work in tandem, but the left brain cannot contain the right, any more than the object can contain the subject. And no, I'm not reducing this to brain anatomy; feel free to regard it as an allegory.)
You know how Godel's proofs work? He proved the first Incompleteness Theorem using *arithmetic*. That's how fundamental it is.
It is quite literally inescapable, which is why it is regarded as one of the most important advances ever in the history of mathematics.
Gödel did not show what the mind is, but he certainly showed what it is not, which is to say, a logic machine.
If you take it one step further, among other things, he proved the existence of unprovable arithmetical truths: or in other words -- and this is just common sense -- that there exist things that are both unprovable and true. But only the best things in life.
(Again, literally true: none of the best things in life can be reduced to a logical system. You can try, but you'll be very lonely and bored.)
This is not really something you can have differing opinions on. Godel proved, as you say, that there are statements that are true but unprovable. But we are bound by Godel's proof too. We cannot ever know those statements are true. Sometimes we can know they're unprovable. Sometimes not even that. This is the reality of mathematics, and it's our reality.
The wonderful book Godel, Escher, Bach goes into the implications of this for human and machine intelligence - and art and society as well. I highly recommend it to everyone.
That is not what Gödel believed: he didn't believe his theorems supported reductionism, but rather, a la Plato, the existence of a suprasensible domain of eternal verities. Think of your own case: do you really not know any truths that cannot be proved by logic? -- for example, that man is free to accept or reject truth.
No, I don't know any truths that can't be proved by logic. If they can't be proved by logic, I don't know that they're true. If I don't know that they're true, why call them truths?
There are things I *believe* to be true that I cant prove, of course. But I could be wrong.
I think you're selling yourself short by enclosing truth within logical tautologies. For you, things are true because rational; for me, they are rational because true.
You say you know of no truths that can't be proved by logic. Well, it is impossible to prove man has free will, and yet, we do. One could cite many other examples, but just one suffices to blow up reductionism.
What do you mean by "free will"? There's certainly no evidence that we have any form of free will that contradicts reductionism.
If that's the case, then you were determined to say that, and truth doesn't enter into it. In other words, if we are not free, then we obviously cannot choose truth. Nor could you convince me otherwise, since I too would be bound to believe what I believe.
You ask what I mean by free will: most importantly, freedom to distinguish between truth and error, good and evil, beauty and ugliness, reality and appearances. This is what characterizes the human station. Speaking only for myself, I want to live in a system in which I am free to choose truth, beauty, and virtue.
Freedom is metaphysical, not physical, and is more than adequate proof of our transcendence. And of course, there is nothing compelling one to believe this truth. We are always free to reject freedom.
More to the point: is understanding Gödel's theorems just a logical entailment, or does it situate you outside logical systems? If it's just another tautology, then to hell with it.
That was it. One point I wanted to add is that determinism is for Marxists, Muslims, and behaviorists, not Americans. Especially on this Memorial Day, think about it: we are here because thousands of brave soldiers gave their lives for our freedom.
Yes, but What do you mean by freedom? There's certainly no evidence that we have any form of free will that contradicts reductionism.
Oh? This means that these warriors -- this one, for example -- weren't brave at all, merely foolish or deluded, sacrificing themselves to something that doesn't exist. Meanwhile, the atheist sacrifices his mind to the one thing that supposedly does exist: godless matter. But is there any merit in his sacrifice, being that he has no choice but to make it?
I'll say it again for emphasis: freedom is sufficient proof of our transcendence. And those who have given their all in its defense haven't wasted their lives but testified to its ultimate significance. Which is why we honor them.
(I can hear it now: What do you mean by honor? There's no such thing!)