When they confine their attention to the chemical, physical and physiological facts they are inclined to take the view that men are ‘conscious automata’, i.e. that all our mental states, including processes of deliberating, imagining, reasoning etc, are mere by-products of the brain, which are themselves completely determined by physical and physiological antecedants. But their daily lives and all their professional activities in designing, carrying out, and interpreting experiments presuppose a view which is shared by plain men and which seems prima facie to be incompatible with the ‘conscious-automaton’
It’s fine to hold that there might not have been such a thing as consciousness as Bergson does. One can go on from there to ask: ‘But we have consciousness, what is it for?’but to deny that we have consciousness after using the apparatus of consciousness seems to be wrong-headed. To sanctify that error by baptising it with the intelligible and descriptive title of ‘eliminative materialism’ is to ask for puzzlement and rejection. It would have been much better to choose a sonorous and opaque name such as monistic materialism.
In a recent interview Patricia Churchland atTPM
appears to be having a Prufrock moment about eliminative materialism:
That is not what I meant at all,
That is not it, at all.
Pace Dennett of Consciousness Explained, another disbeliever in consciousness, is this a Stalinist or an Orwellian move? Interesting however.