His article begs the question, Are Dr Fields’ views an example of the conclusion science has come to about the source of all human experience in general and, from our point of view, mysticism in particular? Is he saying science can’t explain MER so shouldn’t bother?
DR FIELDS: “The ‘hard problem of consciousness’ (HPC) as originally stated by David Chalmers in The Conscious Mind (1996) is the problem of explaining how experience is possible. How is any experience, anywhere in the universe, possible? From the perspective of the HPC, a single experience of a flash of light is as mysterious as a full human experience of a summer’s day or the most profound mystical experience of the most enlightened monk.” (Our italics).
Dr Fields says there are three responses to the hard problem that reflect different ideas about experience. He asks if the hard problem of consciousness can be solved by either approach:
“The possibility of experience (i.e. consciousness) is derived or emergent from something else … it could be fundamental rather than derived (man made) with only some having it sometimes; all entities have it in different kinds.
He says assuming response #1 we could take either of two tactics. One is to define consciousness as some other property but this does not explain how experience is possible. He says it “dodges the HPC instead of solving it. In short, the hard problem of consciousness seems unsolvable using response #1. It can be dodged, but not solved.”
In response #2 the problem is to explain how or why some systems have experiences but others do not. What is the basis for explaining this? What facts could possibly be relevant?
(So far no one has discovered a single common qualification for having the mystical experience of Reality, (MER). (Our italics).
Dr Fields says without such “independent criteria” the question is unsolvable. “If a system is conscious, it is conscious by its very nature, not for some other reason.”
He says response #3 says that all entities – everything that exists – has experiences. “There is no reason why or how. They just have them. End of story.
“The hard problem of consciousness (MER?) is therefore either unsolvable or unstatable. Knowing this, how should we respond? In my view, we should quit worrying about it. It is irrelevant to any possible science of consciousness.”