What is consciousness? Can a computer be conscious? Is your pet cat or dog conscious?
I came to this question of consciousness as part of writing a book about setting intentions. I love to research and I love science. I planned to use current, scientific research to lend credibility to the concept of setting and accomplishing personal, family, and community intentions.
This approach, however, led me to a roadblock. I ran right smack into motionless, dogmatic Materialism. If the materialist conception of the world is correct, then humans have no free will, therefore intentionality, as I intended it to mean in my book, could not be possible. We are nothing but a bundle of neurons, according to the fated materialist view, and each and every thought, act, or emotion is predetermined.
Physicist Daniel Levy asserts that “whatever free will might be, it is a phenomenon of mind, and phenomena of mind must, in my physicalist conviction, be understood in relation to phenomena of the brain.” In his book Neural Holism and Free Will Levy asks: “Shouldn’t this make us despair—this realization that we are automatons with no powers of deliberation, no choices, relentlessly driven to perform mechanically, like a robot or computer? Not in the least. Under the proposed description, our responses (optimally) reflect all of our beliefs and desires, as represented in our neural states.” I don’t know about you, but his explanation doesn’t make me feel all that great; and how does consciousness fit in?