In 1991, Daniel Dennett published his tome, Consciousness Explained.1 Yet, ten years later he penned an article titled ?Are We Explaining Consciousness Yet??2 If he had to ask the question, the answer seems obvious. English-speaking philosophers and psychologists have been trying to understand consciousness at least since John Locke introduced the word into the English language in the 17th century. But despite the best efforts of those who?ve thrown their hats into the ring, we haven?t made much progress. Obviously, a different approach is needed.
Towards a Materialistic Resolution of the "Hard Problem" of Consciousness - An interview with Haim D. Heilprin, Ph.D.
Let us begin with what is arguably the toughest question of all, the question of subjective experience. Please pardon my skepticism, but it is my understanding that you purport to offer an explanation to the "hard problem" of consciousness?
Yes. The nature of consciousness is one of the most fundamental enigmas of science, on par with the ultimate nature of matter. Yet unlike the study of any other scientific subject, in the case of consciousness we seem to be clueless even as to where to begin our investigation. It's as if consciousnesses lies beyond the scope of science, or indeed, as some argue, even beyond the scope of our intellectual grasp.
I believe that we can understand consciousness, and that the answer to this enigma lies with the consistent application of Occam's razor to the plain facts at hand. I start out with a few necessary postulates which, following a short and rather straightforward mental expedition, nonetheless lead to one the most profound conceptual revolutions in the history of science.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, intelligence has been conceptualized
as a qualitatively unique faculty (or faculties) with a relatively fixed
quantity that individuals possess and that can be tested by conventional
intelligence tests. Despite the logical errors of reification and circular
reasoning involved in this essentialistic conceptualization, this view
of intelligence has persisted until the present, with psychologists still
debating how many and what types of intelligence there are. This paper
argues that a concept of intelligence as anything more than a label for
various behaviors in their contexts is a myth and that a truly scientific
understanding of the behaviors said to reflect intelligence can come only
from a functional analysis of those behaviors in the contexts in which
they are observed. A functional approach can lead to more productive methods
for measuring and teaching intelligent behavior.
Copyright Psychological Record Winter 2003