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December 31, 2007



Having been an epiphenomenalist since I first heard about it (over 50 years ago), I can say that I do not regard consciousness as an illusion. It is a reality of supreme importance to us but it does not itself cause any change in the brain - change is caused by its neural correlates only. Consciousness is an end in itself. However, it is an illusion of consciousness that colour and sound are out there in the world whereas in fact they are produced by our brain activity - out there are only colourless photons and silent vibrations. The physical world of primary qualities is revealed by science, which does not make use of the conscious qualities (qualia) in its explanations of physical processes. So you are wrong about evolution. Evolution makes no reference whatever to consciousness because consciousness cannot have any effect on evolution. Nor does evolution assert the equivalence of humans and animals. We should (as J.Bentham said) treat animals as if they could feel pain ie give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are conscious.

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