Leib­niz Cam­pus Lec­tu­re: Donald D. Hoff­man: 24.4. 18 Uhr, Licht­hof im Wel­fen­schloss


Donald D. Hoff­man, Uni­ver­si­ty of Cali­for­nia, Irvine/USA:
Mill, Mind and Monad:
Leib­niz and the Pro­blem of Con­scious­ness

If I have a visu­al expe­ri­ence that I descri­be as a red toma­to a meter away, then I am incli­ned to belie­ve that the­re is, in fact, a red toma­to a meter away, even if I clo­se my eyes. I belie­ve that my per­cep­ti­ons of spa­ce­time and objec­ts are, in the nor­mal case, veri­di­cal-that they accu­rate­ly depict aspec­ts of the real world. But is my belief sup­por­ted by our best sci­ence? In par­ti­cu­lar: Does evo­lu­ti­on by natu­ral selec­tion favor veri­di­cal per­cep­ti­ons? Many sci­en­tists and phi­lo­so­phers claim that it does. But this claim, though plau­si­ble, has not been pro­per­ly tested. In this talk I pre­sent a new theo­rem: Veri­di­cal per­cep­ti­ons are never more fit than non-veri­di­cal per­cep­ti­ons which are sim­ply tun­ed to the rele­vant fit­ness func­tions. This ent­ails that per­cep­ti­on is not a win­dow on rea­li­ty; it is more like a desk­top inter­face on your lap­top. I dis­cuss this inter­face theo­ry of per­cep­ti­on and its impli­ca­ti­ons for one of the most puz­zling unsol­ved pro­blems in sci­ence: the rela­ti­ons­hip bet­ween brain activi­ty and con­scious expe­ri­en­ces. Leib­niz anti­ci­pa­ted this work by two cen­tu­ries, with his famous gap, mill and mona­do­lo­gy.

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