Scientism is weak on the origin of consciousness

This loaded statement came from RationalWiki:

We do not know why or even when consciousness evolved.

But that statement assumes that scientism and naturalism should be taken literally!

Now compare that with the following:

If we make a really conscious robot, if we ‘synthesize’ consciousness and the unity of consciousness from non-conscious materials, what we have done is to assemble components that form a unified physical thing at which consciousness is manifested.  But this neutral description of what we have done leaves open two possibilities:

  1. The one is that consciousness simply comes into existence without cause at that complex configuration of physical components but is in no way caused by or emergent from that complex configuration.  In this case we have not synthesized consciousness from nonconscious materials; we have simply brought together certain material components at which consciousness appears.
  2. The other possibility is that consciousness comes into manifestation at the complex configuration of physical components ab extra, from outside the natural sphere.  A crude theological way of thinking of this would be that a purely spiritual being, God, ‘implants’ consciousness in sufficiently complex physical systems.

On both (1) and (2), consciousness arises at a certain level of material complexity, but not from matter. On (1) it just arises as a matter of brute fact. On (2), consciousness comes from consciousness.  On neither does consciousness have a natural origin. On (1) consciousness does not originate from anything. On (2) it has a non-natural origin.

Quote sources

  1. RationalWiki (2014). Consciousness. Available http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Consciousness. Last accessed 1st Aug 2015.
  2. Vallicella, B. (2013). The Relevance of Conscious Robots for the Philosophy of Mind. Maverick Philosopher. Available http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2013/08/the-relevance-of-conscious-robots-for-the-philosophy-of-mind.html. Last accessed 1st Aug 2015.
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