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The Case Against Conscious Realism

Book Report

The Case Against Reality by Donald Hoffman

Hoffman proposes that objective reality is really networks of consciousness. He calls this conscious realism. Unconscious objects are just an interpretation of the experience of external conscious agents by a conscious agent. The book frames this up by diving into why traditional definition of objective reality is wrong. It proposes that we do not perceive reality, that our senses work to interpret the world in terms of survival as opposed to objective truth. He plays around in quantum physics a lot, and this is where I get resentful. We certainly have a very powerful field of science there, but it certainly is the most mysterious. Lately I've been struck at how contemporary bullshit artists are so willing to call this unreal realm the most real. He implies that elementary particles that exhibit a binary nature (spin, polarity) may be elementary consciousness and you would only need two such agents for the rest of the universe to be constructed. And he claims this can be modeled mathematically and even has the algorithm in the back of the book. To me it seems like it might be a more complex version of an old AI theory called Do-What-Do.

My objection from a logic point of view is this: instead of trying to model consciousness by taking unconscious matter as the starting point and consciousness as the end point, conscious realism is just a flip flop and then assumes unconscious matter is an illusion. He is attracted to it because he believed he has reduced it all to one thing, consciousness, as those that love Occam's razor like to do. But he denies the objection, that one could just as easily say consciousness is an illusion. I can't understand how he can claim his unified model of reality proceeds from a pair of binary entities without some comment on that absurdity, and some Pythagorean numerology.

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