Re: virus: materialism and other worldviews

Robin Faichney (
Fri, 19 Feb 1999 20:11:32 +0000

In message <003d01be5c17$280e94c0$>, David McFadzean <> writes
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Robin Faichney <>
>Date: Friday, February 19, 1999 8:02 AM
>>But I'm not saying consciousness is unreal. I use it as a
>>working hypothesis all the time myself, and I'll eat a
>>complete PC if anyone can prove that there is a generally
>>superior strategy for humans to use. All I'm saying is
>>that there is no *objective* evidence for consciousness,
>>which should worry anyone who believes in objectivity as
>>the ultimate (or even "an ultimate"?) goal.
>Is there any *objective* evidence for electrons?

Good point.

>Do we not
>infer their existence and properties from observable
>behavior? Isn't this exactly what we do with consciousness?

Not really. It's true there's no such thing as absolutely objective evidence for anything (which is why idealism is as plausible as materialism -- though no more so). But there's still a difference between things that are "out there", and subjective stuff like consciousness. The evidence for electrons, though not conclusive, is at least all "out there", ie it's internally consistent. But when you look at another person, the only reason you have to believe them conscious is your own personal, private, individual experience of consciousness -- plus your natural assumption that in such basic things, people must all be the same.

But remember, I'm not a dualist, and I'm not saying there's an absolute difference between subjective and objective phenomena -- it's a relative thing. The only time I feel I have to emphasise it is when I'm dealing with materialists, to make the point that there's something they're failing to explain (ie consciousness).