Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Talk at Istanbul Technical University, Mark Steen (Boğaziçi University), “God’s Consciousness of Our Consciousness: Why Theists Should Be Materialists About the Human Person”

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Tuesday, December 8, 1:30pm
Insan ve Toplum Bilimleri Seminer Odasi
ITU Fen-Edebiyat Fakultesi, Maslak
“God’s Consciousness of Our Consciousness: Why Theists Should Be Materialists About the Human Person”
Abstract:
Does God know what it is like to be us? According to traditional Abrahamic monotheisms, God is omniscient–or knows everything which can be known. This would include knowledge of all mental states of all of His creatures. But it seems reasonable to suppose that one can only ‘know what it is like’ (KWIL) to have experiences (e.g. the taste of cantaloupe) by undergoing them (or undergoing ones like them). So, God either i) undergoes or KWIL to have every creaturely experience, ii) undergoes or KWIL to have only some creaturely experiences, or iii) does not know what it is like to have any creaturely experiences. I will argue that (i) is untenable–there are multiple reasons for denying that God undergoes every experience. I will also argue that (ii) is ad hoc. So we are left with (iii), that God doesn’t KWIL to have any creaturely experience. But this apparently goes against traditional theism by denying God knowledge of His creatures’ experiences. I argue that a good way to accept both that God doesn’t KWIL to be us and God’s omniscience is to be a (token) physicalist. God knows everything about our mental lives by knowing what all of our physical states are. We, and all of His creatures with mental lives, are wholly physical beings. There are no ‘qualia’, or non-physical experiential states which are irreducible to physical ones. I then deal with some objections, such as the possibility of non-physical beings with mental lives (e.g. angels), and the worrying possibility that God is a zombie (i.e., a being with no phenomenal consciousness).
sources:
Alter, Beyer, Foss, Jackson, Knight, Merricks, Milliere, Nagel, Lewis, Nagasawa, Nemirow, Mander, Zagzebski
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Written by markedwardsteen

December 1, 2015 at 6:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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