The Manifest Model and the Pythagorean Intuition

  • Jeffrey Foss


The last chapter traced the genesis of the riddle of consciousness via the history of science. The riddle arises when we attempt to construct a scientific model of consciousness that includes our experience of the sensuous qualities of things. We encounter an apparent impossibility: the ontology of science is restricted to geometry, but geometry cannot model the obviously non-geometric sensuous qualia of our everyday experience. Thus the riddle: that in the very process itself of finding a way to explain the things around us, we have made ourselves impossible to understand. Whereas our intellectual forbears, including the founders of modern science itself, were willing to accept that impossibility, we are not. They were willing to postulate a realm outside the reach of science, a supernatural realm to house those phenomena of consciousness that cannot find a place in the natural world. Again, we are not. The evidence for materialism seems very convincing. And in any case, how could reality be split into two separate realms of mind and matter? The world must be one.


Auditory Cortex Scientific Model Spatial Property Perceptual Consciousness Manifest Image 
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Notes to Chapter 3

  1. [1]
    Kathy Akins (1996) presents some of the scientific findings I will employ concerning our sensory processing of thermal information. I am also influenced by her telling characterization of this sensory process as “narcissistic.” But whereas she portrays individual sensory systems as responding only to those things in the world that have interest to them (the sensory’ systems themselves — her view a cousin, apparently, of Dennett’s 1991, pp. 237–42, “pandemonium” model of consciousness), it seems generally more accurate and plausible to me that separate perceptual systems each provide ranges of information relevant to the single organism or self to which they belong. Surely natural selection would favor such a centralized arrangement over anarchy of the senses. Akins also sees the evidence of sensory narcissism as indicating the necessity of distinguishing these systems “sensory motor” functions from their “ontological” (that is, representational) functions. Thus, she reads the evidence as placing the goal of a naturalistic account of intentionality even further out of reach. I will argue (Ch. 7), to the contrary, that the self-centeredness of manifest perception suggests a quite promising approach to a scientific account of intentionality.Google Scholar
  2. [2]
    Indeed, I do mean to say that our current scientific model of our manifest modeling of thermal properties does explain thermal qualia, that is, conscious phenomena — if only in part. But this is not the place to get into this issue which will be the focus of Chapters 5 and 7.Google Scholar
  3. [3]
    I will argue in Chapter 5 that under the influence of drugs such as Demerol, the apparently seamless blend of the sensation of heat-and-pain, along with the urge to release the object causing them, can come apart. This fact, however, does nothing to undermine the usual unity of these things in the manifest model.Google Scholar
  4. [4]
    The Gauss Contest is composed and administered by The Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computation, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada.Google Scholar
  5. [5]
    From “If P, then not-P,” we can validly conclude “not-P.” After all, the first sentence is equivalent to “Either not-P or not-P,” which obviously entails “not-P.”Google Scholar
  6. [6]
    It is an interesting fact — and a very relevant one as far as the riddle of consciousness is concerned — that explanations of qualia, intentionality, or consciousness are met with the response that they do not make qualia, intentionality, or consciousness necessary. Chalmers (1996) has the virtue of being quite explicit on this point. But this is to set an entirely inappropriate standard (as shall be argued in the next chapter).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey Foss
    • 1
  1. 1.University of VictoriaCanada

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