Saturday, February 25, 2017
One of my favorite contemporary philosophers is Daniel Dennett. (He looks the part, doesn't he?) He tackles the problem of illusion this way: We experience a world full of other people, plants, animals, home runs, problems, opportunities and mistakes. To scientists, the world is made up of molecules, atoms, electrons, gravity, and all that Steven Hawking stuff. Dennett seems fully aware that most of us will say: "Okay. So what?" and move on with our day.
So, for us complex creatures, he introduces the idea of competency without comprehension. This was the genius of Steve Jobs, et al. Make it easy to use and carry around, and the mind-numbing complexity of the systems behind it all are of no concern. Thus, illusion keeps it going.
What about our subjective inner lives? Are we ready to see them as illusions? Are we ready to succumb to the furniture vs. the molecules?
I agree this is eye-rolling stuff, but these are the kinds of questions we will have to deal with politically now that the robots are among us, taking over our work, and maybe being in the process of developing minds of their own.