Sam’s two brief essays on the mystery of consciousness pack more good sense about the mystery of consciousness than the veritable tomes of muddled thinking that have been written on the subject. He has established two very important things:
1) consciousness is not an illusion.
2) materialism cannot explain consciousness.
In fact, though materialism is an apparently coherent and complete explanatory model for objective reality, it has no explanation nor need for subjective consciousness. Material phenomena require (and only require) material explanations. Material explanations can explain (and can only explain) material phenomena.
Yet he left the discussion at an impasse. Consciousness is a mystery. I suggest he take the analysis one step further.
The mysteriousness of consciousness involves the unspoken assumption that materialism and our conception of matter, though in need of constant refinement, are not ultimately in question. That is, we believe in the reality of matter. But when examined closely we must recognize that this is a faith-based belief. I suggest that, while consciousness has zero chance of being an illusion, the actuality of matter has a finite chance of being illusory. So from a strictly logical perspective I suggest that there is a solution to the mystery of consciousness that requires no faith of any kind.
1) Consciousness (experience) is real. Indubitably.
2) Matter, world, others, self - everything we think exists - are “constructs” or “content” of experience.
3) Therefore the mystery is solved not by suggesting that experience is an illusion, but rather suggesting that its contents are illusions.
What does this mean? It’s not very attractive, but it means there is ONE subjectivity, within which there is the illusion of self, world, others, other minds.
This conceptualization is a non-starter, but not because it is incoherent, not because it is impossible logically, both of which charges can be levied with impunity against materialism and dualism. It is a non-starter STRICTLY from an esthetic perspective. It annihilates everything we hold dear.
I look forward to Mystery of Consciousness III - the mystery solved!
Then we are left, as he said, with the ultimate mystery: why is there SOMETHING (experience) and not NOTHING. Good luck with that one!
Elkin NC 28621