RE: Objective versus subjective reality: which is primary?

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Wed Jul 20 2005 - 17:46:08 MDT

Well, *my* interpretation of the "hard problem" is "explaining how/why there
is a connection between subjective conscious experience, on the one hand,
and particular physical phenomena like electricity flowing in brains on the
other hand."

Chalmers may have put it in an overly objective-reality-flavored way, but I
suppose this is the essence of what he was getting at.

More later,

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf Of Norm
> Wilson
> Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2005 7:14 PM
> To:
> Subject: RE: Objective versus subjective reality: which is primary?
> Ben,
> > What you're pointing out is basically the (in)
> > famous "hard problem of consciousness", isn't it?
> It's been a while since I read Chalmer's paper, but I seem to
> recall the hard problem being described in a way that presupposed
> the primacy of objective reality and placed the burden of
> explaining the "something extra" of consciousness on the
> proponents of the hard problem. I feel that this emphasis is
> arbitrary and that an equally valid approach would be to
> presuppose the existence of subjective reality and require that
> any would-be physical explanation of reality provide for (or at
> least not preclude) the obvious fact of subjective experience.
> It seems clear to me that subjective reality is primary from a
> subjective standpoint; whereas objective reality is primary from
> an objective standpoint. I think you hit the nail on the head
> when you said "each has their own validity, and each gives rise
> to the other in a certain sense." There are clearly interactions
> among them, but to posit one as more primary than the other (in
> the sense that one subsumes and explains the other) would be unwarranted.
> Of course, all of our observations, thoughts and logical
> arguments regarding reality originate from a subjective
> perspective, relative to which objective reality is in the
> deepest sense an unprovable hypothesis. Relative to subjective
> reality, objective reality is a construct of our own subjectivity
> - an abstraction on the horizon which can be approached but never
> reached. We can never "know" objective reality, but can only
> deduce it indirectly as a function of how it relates to patterns
> within our own subjectivity. Any understanding of the objective
> world is necessarily incomplete and inextricably bound to our own
> subjective points-of-view. In short, I think we are stuck with
> the fact that subjective reality is primary, at least from our
> perspective, because we are bound to the subjective
> point-of-view. While we can build strong cases for the existence
> of objective reality, in the end it would be begging the question
> to position objective reality as primary. Any theor!
> y of reality that fails to explain subjective experience is
> necessarily incomplete.
> Norm Wilson

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