It seems to me that once one leaves materialist view of consciousness, it is not easy to stop there.
One can’t stop on epiphenomenalism, because:
- If knowledge is connected to the physical domain, and consciousness is not, then knowledge of being conscious is impossible. But we know that we are conscious, and that’s why all those books, papers and thoughts on consciousness are there.
- Or when one tries to combine epiphenomenalism with evolution we get that evolution has:
- Created beings which act as conscious (e.g. talk about consciousness, write papers and books about it), and…
- Incidentally created them in such way that they are conscious.
The second possibility sounds like the pre-established harmony of Leibniz, but I can’t escape the feeling that there is something wrong with this situation. It surely goes against the intuitions of what proper explanation should be, as formalized by Occam.
And one can’t stop being non-materialist only about consciousness because:
If the causally potent (non-epiphenomenal) consciousness isn’t product of the physical, and the genetic build up work just on level of physical, and determine only the physical attributes of the organism, then this consciousness can’t be product of such evolution.
So, if we don’t accept dualism, and if we don’t accept that somehow consciousness developed separately from the rest of the body we will have to accept that genes, organisms, life and evolution will appear not as entirely physical, but including some otherness. (By otherness, I mean here something which would be analogous to consciousness in case of humans – something other then physical, but it doesn’t have to be consciousness). So this otherness would not be epiphenomenon of the physical, but actually something that affects/interacts with the physical.
But why stop there?
This post was inspired by the post “Jaegwon Kim comes out“, on Fragments of Consciousness weblog.