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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why a Mechanistic Evolutionary Theory Is Logically Incapable of Explaining Consciousness

The very attractiveness of Darwinian and NeoDarwinian theories of evolution was that they show how mechanisms can reproduce with alterations that continually fit them to the environment. The process was posited to take place without any design, and with no conscious intention on the part of the mechanisms to survive or to modify themselves. All teleology is forbidden.

It should be obvious that while such a theory might account wonderfully for the appearance of ever more sophisticated and complex mechanisms, it is logically, not empirically, incapable of explaining why any of those mechanisms should ever become self-aware. All of the action in the theory is in the mechanisms: self-awareness cannot possibly make any difference to the fitness of these mechanisms, by the very postulates that made the theory attractive in the first place. At best, consciousness is some sort of accidental, weird by-product of mechanistic evolution, something totally useless with which we are nonetheless saddled.

Unless, "Well, it just happened" is to count as a good scientific explanation, a mechanistic theory of evolution cannot explain consciousness.