Sunday, 12 January 2020

Donald Hoffman on Consciousness, Reality... and Mathematical Models

Sorry about flogging this dead horse again.

Donald Hoffman keeps on attempting to distance himself from those New Agers who have very similar views on consciousness and "reality". How does he do that? By using the words "precise mathematical model"... again and again and again.

For example, Hoffman claims that he offers us a "precise mathematical model of agents having subjective experiences". Yet he doesn't explain that mathematical model. And neither does he explain what he means by "mathematical model" (or give any examples) in all the other cases he mentions them. Instead, he simply keeps on using the words "precise mathematical model".

Hoffman seems to believe that many philosophers are (still) Identity Theorists (in the Old Style, circa the 1950s). I would say that there are about one or two who hold that position. (I'm being rhetorical here.) I even doubt that there are that many neuroscientists who are (strict) Identity Theorists; though some anti-physicalists pretend that all neuroscientists are. (Hoffman doesn't at all tackle the existence of elminitivists.)

Hoffman's knowledge of philosophy is very poor. His philosophising is poorer still. That doesn't matter - he's a scientist (i.e., a cognitive scientist/cognitive psychologist). However, he's a scientist who not only repeatedly uses philosophical terms: he's also a scientist who's offering us a thoroughly philosophical position on consciousness and reality.

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